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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 01-11-2017, 09:10 PM
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Default Re: Hackle question

I've known a lot of people who went whole hawg, bought the best, most expensive capes, just to let them get old and brittle. In short, money wasted. For just personal, fun tying, those Whititng 100 packs work great, and last longer than one might think. Glad it's what I did.

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Old 01-12-2017, 12:32 AM
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Default Re: Hackle question

I don't know what you'll be tying and this would help to know. Trout flies, streamers, bass flies?......

Metz and Whiting are definitely the industry standard with A+ quality. Keough hackle is good also, just a tier below the other 2. I just caution you that if you wanted one of each good quality dry and saddle capes in brown, black, grizzly, light / dark dun, white or the odd chartreuse, pink, blue or purple saddles you're looking at hundreds of dollars.

I started out 30 years ago with a Cabelas starter fly tying kit and still have those sub-par black and brown capes. Cabelas capes are lower tier as far as quality goes...... Not worth your time or money if you really get into tying and want to make nice quality patterns.

Capes are a long term investment for the average tyer and you'll have them your lifetime. I've yet to use one up. Just don't scrimp on quality. You'll regret it later.

So for a starter..... 100 packs, I'd say no. I'd suggest the half capes route. And go somewhere to see them in person to compare the various grades. And go to a smaller shop as Cabelas or Bass Pro will only have limited selections and quality. This will be an invaluable research project for your future fly tying efforts.

As others have suggested, look at CDC puffs for your drys. I use CDC for my dry flies exclusively now in comparadun patterns. For $6/3 gram box you'll have enough puffs for half a lifetime. Montana Fly Co bulk packs is the route I went. There are 15+ colors so wide array of opportunities for patterns. I tie very few traditional catskill dry style flies any more. So my dry capes are just collecting dust. Saddles I use regularly for egg sucking leaches, buggers, intruders, and other streamers but you can get these anywhere for cheap.

Another suggestion is to make sure you have them in zip lock baggies and throw a few moth balls in with your feathers and fur. I had a few capes destroyed by bugs. I cried once i saw the damage those little critters did. Just an FYI.....

Cheers,

ft09
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Old 01-12-2017, 12:43 AM
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Default Re: Hackle question

I am planning on tying trout flies primarily and maybe eventually venturing into some of those beautiful flies that you guys tie, which I look in awe on the what did you tie today thread, but that's a while away. So I'm primarily focused on dry flies nymphs and streamers for trout. Hope that helps
Thanks
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Old 01-12-2017, 01:12 AM
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Default Re: Hackle question

I just purchased some spey hackles from here:

Feather Emporium's Bargain Bin | Fly Tying Feathers | Classic Salmon Fly Tying Materials
Index of /Fly-Tying-Feathers

Some great pricing on some quality stuff and a wide variety. The TU 1/2 5x cape special for $75 seems like a steal to me. For $3 he sells Whiting top capes for 16s to 24s size patterns.

For other fur and feathers.... I'd suggest you ask around at work. You can get some great materials from your duck, goose, turkey, grouse/pheasant/quail and deer hunting buddies. You'll have to learn to cure the skins yourself.... but a little borax and salt is all that's needed. Not to say it's not a lot of work.... but will save you a ton. If you have no upland game hunting friends....... call one of the local outfitters that cater in upland game hunts. They throw tons of these feathers away after every single hunt and I'm sure if you ask nicely... they would hook you up. Just an idea.

It all depends on the level of intensity you think you'll get into with the hobby. Just don't expect to save money. We all learn that this sounds like a great plan but quickly implodes.

Good luck in your search.

ft09
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:48 AM
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Default Re: Hackle question

There almost always has to be someone who is going to post something out of sync with the group and this often falls on me. Here it comes

Quote:
Originally Posted by cab View Post
I've known a lot of people who went whole hawg, bought the best, most expensive capes, just to let them get old and brittle.
Hi Craig,

Last thing I want to be is in disagreement with you but in my experiences the good stuff shouldn't get brittle. I use feathers every winter while tying some of which come from Indian Game Cock capes I bought circa 1980 - 81. It may come down to the way the skins were handled and prepared in relation to their longevity.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Definitely a whole hogger here guys

It is a possibility that I've taken the road less traveled when it comes to most things related to tying and I guess fly fishing in general. I don't profess that possession of materials makes someone a better tier or a better fisherman but in the strange workings of my mind these things have collected (approaching 50 years) have represented my idea of a sort of wealth.
It could be that when I was gathering materials form my beginning steps in fly tying there were no half capes. There were those cellophane packets of Indian hackles but you learned early and quick that they didn't offer much so you bought whole capes. And whole capes were cool, even today I love the looks of a good cape. In the mid seventies what we now take for granted in hackle, genetically controlled premium hackles were almost nonexistent at least in my area so you used Indian Capes and tried raising a few barred rocks and Rhode Island Reds to see if you could get a good bird. When the Metz hackles started to make the Indian capes obsolete I bought 50 mixed capes for 48.00 and still have about 25 left. I use the larger feathers from them and from Genetic capes for streamer wings like on this Dark Spruce.
Click the image to open in full size.

I don't think I ever used a saddle hackle for winging on a streamer fly, I use those large feathers around the bottom of capes for wings. It's possible too that I'm either a collector or eccentric but half capes never attracted my attention at all. I realize that for a large percentage of people this all comes down to cost, to money spent but seriously............ If I were concerned with what I was going to spend on fly tying or rods, or reels, well I would have ditched this idea before I turned 20. I could have easily banked another 50 thousand over the years just on tackle and materials. Had I done that I wouldn't be me so I guess things take their course and I just went along for the ride.

I would buy capes, good capes in every shade or breed I figured I may need. If you find that you are knocking the heck out of the barred rock then get one anytime you have some extra dough. When I was living in Pennsylvania and fishing all around the lower 48 I had 3 of everything because I used more then. Here I use almost no dry fly hackle so I haven't bought a cape in 12 years. It takes time to build an inventory but once you have it in possession they just may last a lifetime, Mine have
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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 01-12-2017, 05:47 AM
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Default Re: Hackle question

Like Ard, I've seldom had a good cape or saddle become brittle. Then again, the feathers that come into this house usually find themselves wrapped on a hook in short order.

That said, I do have some good hackle with a little age on it, and they're still as nice to work with as the day they were purchased. As Ard pointed out, it just may be that the hackle growers in question knew how best to handle/prep their hackle for longevity.

And, speaking of feathers, it's time that I finish wrapping a bit more. Have a good one, guys...

Jerry, aka hairwing530

PS Nice Dark Spruce, Ard... JW
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Old 01-12-2017, 02:24 PM
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Default Re: Hackle question

Quote:
Originally Posted by kevjr View Post

I'm primarily focused on dry flies nymphs and streamers for trout. Hope that helps
Yes, that helps quite a bit actually.

So I primarily fish for trout, nearly 100% of my time. I carry a fair amount of dry flies, but the majority of which have no hackle at all - Comparaduns and/or Sparkle Duns for mayflies, and Deer Head Caddis for, well, caddisflies. Now in the case of the latter, it's a Plan B for those times when they will not grab a soft hackle or flymph... both of these require hackle by the way, but much less expensive (wet fly) hackle (partridge, grouse, and hens).

I do carry some attractor patterns as well. Mainly Royal Wulff's, Humpy's, and Stimulatorss... all of which require more traditional, stiff hackles. For the few that I use/tie/carry however, I can get away with partial patches or 100-packs.

My main body of dry fly fishing for trout relies on a relatively inexpensive patch of coastal deer hair for wing material.
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Old 01-12-2017, 04:57 PM
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Default Re: Hackle question

Quote:
Originally Posted by hairwing530 View Post
I do have some good hackle with a little age on it, and they're still as nice to work with as the day they were purchased. As Ard pointed out, it just may be that the hackle growers in question knew how best to handle/prep their hackle for longevity.
One thing we can do if ever you discover a skin getting dry is to rub in just a wee bit of mink oil treatment on the back / bare side of the cape. The feathers themselves seem to remain resilient for a long time.

I see that the original poster is tying nymphs and streamers and so would recommend finding a good source for Indian Game Cock capes. Until you get into nymphs size 20 there should be enough usable hackles to make them worth the 5 - 7 dollars they sell for today. Those large feathers around the bottom will make great streamer wings etc.
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  #19 (permalink)  
Old 01-12-2017, 05:45 PM
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Default Re: Hackle question

When I first tried to tie Catskill style dry flies the only hackle I had was from a starters package. It contained a black and brown neck, which I believe is not hen, but is not of good quality. I had a difficult time making a decent looking dry fly with hackle. I was discouraged.

I purchased a Whiting 100 saddle pack and when I tied my first fly....oh, the light came on. Then I finally found a decent hackle pliers and then everything came into place.

I do not believe I am yet qualified to select a good cape, when I am I will purchase one. For now, for me, the Whiting saddle 100 packs are a great starting point.

...and the good news is Cabelas currently has them on sale for $17.50. Which is a darn good deal. I think you will be pleased with how much better your dry fly will look, and how much easier it will be to tie when using a quality hackle.

Cheers

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Old 01-12-2017, 09:29 PM
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Default Re: Hackle question

Hi, Ard,

No argument here. If I were to advise someone to not spend the money and get the good stuff, it would be hypocrisy of the highest order. Those 100 packs would let the OP test the waters, so to speak. Should one like tying enough, by all means invest in quality capes. And that's how I see it, an investment.

CAB
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