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Old 01-11-2017, 12:07 AM
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Default Hackle question

Hello,
I am just getting into fly tying and at some point I am going to have to buy some hackle, so I have been looking around trying to figure out what manufacturer to buy and what to get. So the question, does anyone have any experience with the introductory packs from whiting farms? I have seen them on multiple sites, including orvis and jsflyfishing, js has them for 65. just wondering if they are good quality hackle or if I would be better off buying a cape or two instead. Also if it is a good option should I buy the one that is 4 half capes or 2 half capes and 2 half saddles. Sorry if that got a little bit wordy.
Thanks
Kevin
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Old 01-11-2017, 12:32 AM
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Default Re: Hackle question

The answer(s) to some of your questions depend a lot on what you tie and in what quantity. When it comes to buying hackle I'd recommend, if at all possible, that you do so in person so you can handle and examine whatever you're after. That way YOU get to see the color and quality of the feathers and not leave that up to the stock person filling your order.

As for brands, I've used Metz and Whiting for years, and a few Collins hackles also, and have been very satisfied with their products. I recently purchased 2 saddles from Keough and both are of exceptional quality, .....and at a comparable price. Worth a look for sure.

Plenty of guys here that tie more and better than I do that should be able to help.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:14 AM
 
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Default Re: Hackle question

Quote:
Originally Posted by kevjr View Post
Hello,
I am just getting into fly tying and at some point I am going to have to buy some hackle, so I have been looking around trying to figure out what manufacturer to buy and what to get. So the question, does anyone have any experience with the introductory packs from whiting farms? I have seen them on multiple sites, including orvis and jsflyfishing, js has them for 65. just wondering if they are good quality hackle or if I would be better off buying a cape or two instead. Also if it is a good option should I buy the one that is 4 half capes or 2 half capes and 2 half saddles. Sorry if that got a little bit wordy.
Thanks
Kevin
If you have someone who knows how to grade hackle, have them personally examine and buy the hackle for you.

Secondly, you MUST decide what flies AND in what sizes you are are going to tie.

For example, a size 14 parachute adams is the most popular hackled fly sold. If you are going to tie mainly size 14 and 16 adams, saddles are what you want to buy because saddles will be centered around a few hackle sizes and saddle hackles are longer and will tie more flies.

But if you are going to tie all sizes of adams and the numbers are going to be evenly spread out, then a neck is what you want. I bet if look at the used necks of 100 fly tiers, 95% of then will have bare spots in the 14/16 sized hackles and lot of 8, 10, 20, 22, 24 sized hackles left on the necks.

Secondly, I buy "Pro Grade" hackle and grade the hackle myself. I can find the best value that way with the size I want to buy.

Thirdly, you can order from one of the growers that sell their own brand. They generally are a good value and they will pick out the hackle that best fits your needs.

Finally, you can tie flies that don't use hackle like comparaduns and sparkle duns, X caddis rather than a hackled EHC.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:29 AM
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Default Re: Hackle question

Cabelas has it for $56 and free shipping.
Whiting Intro Cape Pack : Cabela's

That said I bought one a while back. The dun and cream are excellent. The grizzly and brown were terrible. I bought them sight unseen online and tied with them for a while. I still use the dun and cream with great success but I went out and bought a Whiting Bronze grizzly and MEtz #1 Brown as well as a black, coachman brown, and ginger half neck.

If you can get a look in person that's your best best.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:31 AM
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Default Re: Hackle question

If by whiting introductory pack you mean the 1/2 cape of one color and the 1/2 cape of another. That is exactly how I started with a furnace and grizzly one. I also bought a whiting 100 pack of size 20 dun so I could tie Blue Wing Olives.

It was a fine way for me to start but I will echo what SilverCreek said. IF you are going to tie a small size range of one particular dry fly then maybe get a 100 pack or saddle to narrow that window of hackle size.

Since the original purchase Ive bought a 1/2 saddle of grizzly , a full cape of dun, a few misc smaller capes for buggers and EHC. I also bought a few hen saddles for soft hackles.


TO answer your question though its not a bad way to start and Whiting is good, you probably wont be disappointed.


However to be safe ask your self what flies you intend to tie 99% of the time and start there. Me its a size 18 parachute adams and size 20 parachute BWO , thats where I started.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:50 AM
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Default Re: Hackle question

Also, depending on the size fly you typically fish with, I'd recommend buying at least one whiting 100 pack. They're not the best deal in the world, but an equivalent full saddle is ~$100 and only allows you to tie a few sizes. That said once you tie with top quality materials you'll realize the limitations of the intro or cheaper hackle.
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Old 01-11-2017, 12:44 PM
 
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Default Re: Hackle question

Quote:
Originally Posted by hokiehunter07 View Post
Cabelas has it for $56 and free shipping.
Whiting Intro Cape Pack : Cabela's

That said I bought one a while back. The dun and cream are excellent. The grizzly and brown were terrible. I bought them sight unseen online and tied with them for a while. I still use the dun and cream with great success but I went out and bought a Whiting Bronze grizzly and MEtz #1 Brown as well as a black, coachman brown, and ginger half neck.

If you can get a look in person that's your best best.
$56 sale price ($80 regular price) for 4 half saddles or $14 each is an "unbelievable" price.

I say "unbelievable" since you confirmed that 2 of the 4 (the grizzly and brown) were "terrible." Realizing that only 2 of the half necks were "terrible", may I suggest that the regular effective price was $80 for 2 useable half necks or $80 for a single neck. The $56 sale price for 2 useable half necks is OK but not the bargain that is advertised.

It is interesting to me that the brown and grizzly were the terrible half necks since grizzly and coachman brown are the two most popular colors since they are the colors used for an Adams. I do not think that is by coincidence.

Why were grizzly and brown the ones the bad necks? I wonder if it is because the graders "pass" these off as pro necks even when they do not meet the grade for pro necks. Or is it because fly tying companies buy all the sub grade brown and grizzly necks and saddles they can get for tying commercial Adams flies? What ever the reason, I do NOT think that it is a coincidence that the grizzly and brown were the worst of the bunch and unusable.

This example confirms the importance of actually "grading" the hackle before buying. I know than when I grade pro hackle I can occasionally get great values. The graders do not often make mistakes but when they do, I get a better grade of hackle for a lower price. And when they correctly lower the grade of very good hackle because of broken off or some bent tips, I get the benefit of premium hackle that is left; and I can still use the good portions of the damaged hackle.
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Last edited by silver creek; 01-11-2017 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 01-11-2017, 01:04 PM
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Default Re: Hackle question

Exactly silver. I bought a full pro grade neck from LRO in townson TN that is second to none. Easily a silver or better with lots of hackle in the sub-20 size. I'm talking a single feather tying 2-3 flies good. Barring might be a little light for some but I love it.

My griz and brown from the intro pack had short stubby feathers with minimal barbs and softer webby fibers. I wouldn't even classify the brown as brown, it was almost ginger it was so light. The metz #1 is a good Cape but a little light and focused more on 18 and up.

A great tier can make substandard hackle look good, but great hackle can really help you feel good about your ties as a rookie. That's why I recommend the 100 packs. You'll feel like a million bucks after your first Adams.

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Old 01-11-2017, 02:43 PM
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Default Re: Hackle question

Quote:
Originally Posted by kevjr View Post

I am just getting into fly tying and at some point I am going to have to buy some hackle...
Kevin,

You may want to pump the brakes on that thought. There are different types of hackle for different fly types of course, but with respect to classic dry fly hackle (necks/capes), I have yet to purchase my first and I have been tying for a couple of decades now.

That's not to say that I don't spin hackle, but for the few occasions that I need it there are enough options in the way of; patches, 100-packs, partials, etc. to where I have never seen the need to own an entire cape.

That's just me and I recognize that there is a need for these. That need however will depend greatly on what flies you will need to tie and how many.
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:01 PM
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Default Re: Hackle question

Thanks everyone for all the helpful advice I'm not ready to buy anything today but doing research so I know what I want when I am. So I appreciate all the helpful comments
Thanks
Kevin
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