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Thread: Soft Hackle

  1. #1

    Default Soft Hackle

    How does everyone buy their soft hackle feathers? I was tying some wet flies today and I was using some Hungarian partridge feathers that came in a bag as individual feathers. It seems like 50% of the feathers are just fluff and unusable. Is the $25 skin worth the investment? What other types of soft hackle feathers do you prefer?
    Cabot

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Soft Hackle

    Hi Cabot,

    Ring Neck Pheasant, Hen & cock, chuckar partridge, and if you shop carefully you will find Hun's on sale now and then. I picked up two at Sportsman's Wearhouse here in Wasilla over the winter for 7.99 ea. Take a look at Indian hen capes in chinchilla or cree also, you can find them by doing a goggle search.

    Hope that helps,

    Ard

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Soft Hackle

    Quote Originally Posted by bekiu002 View Post
    How does everyone buy their soft hackle feathers? I was tying some wet flies today and I was using some Hungarian partridge feathers that came in a bag as individual feathers. It seems like 50% of the feathers are just fluff and unusable. Is the $25 skin worth the investment? What other types of soft hackle feathers do you prefer?
    Cabot
    Most quality Hungarian Partridge skins will range from $25 to $35 depending on the shop's mark up. They are well worth the cost because you can pick and choose the feather that you want.

    I use different birds for different reasons.
    Hungarian Partridge - This is the preferred feather for most soft hackle patterns. The shoulders and neck are perfectly sized for size 10 to 14 hooks. The mottling effect is beautiful.
    Chukar - Chukar has a beautiful dun color. I like using chukar feathers for mayfly soft hackles.
    Hen - If you size hen hackle correctly, you can find feathers for larger and small flies. Also hen can be found in a variety of colors.
    English Grouse - I wish I could find a skin in this. English Grouse has an irridescense that makes for great looking BWO soft hackle.

    MP

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Soft Hackle

    I'm a big fan of Partridge, due to the mottling, and substantial size of the barbules that yet still remain very pliable. I really think buying them on the skin is the way to go, and I've seen some shops selling half skins instead of the full bird.
    http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-..._1276302_n.jpg

    I'd rather hunt fish than bait deer any day.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Soft Hackle

    Take a look at a thread I started a month ago: Simple Charlie Craven Soft Hackle
    The link to Charlie Craven's site is in my second post. Charlie's soft hackles
    seem to be swept back more than mine, and I prefer them more perpendicular to the hook shank.

    I have several bags of loose partridge and grouse feather, and the method
    described above makes every feather a winner.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Soft Hackle

    Hi bekiu002,

    There are lots of soft hackle feathers available.

    1. Guinea Skins

    2. Whiting Hen Saddles

    3. Starling Skins

    4. Bobwhite Quail Body Feathers. Valley Quail will work also and may be a little larger than the Bobwhite.

    5. India Hen Backs and Necks. I have some India necks I bought back in the seventies really cheap. They came in a bunch of colors.

    6. Of course Partridge Skin of some type.

    Frank

  7. #7
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    Jun 2008
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    Default Re: Soft Hackle

    Cabot-

    Those packs of loose partridge and grouse feathers often have barbs sized 2-12 - except for a few 10's and 12's too long for most trout fly sizes when wound around the shank.

    Frank's thread is a great link for working with feathers with long barbs.

    But if you're looking to get into soft hackles, you'll want to pay attention to barb length to match up with the sizes you'll be tying.

    To start you might want partridge and starling skins:

    Partridge skin-- will have feathers from size 14 to 2 about 25-30 bucks

    Starling for small flies size 16-24 about 5-6 bucks

    Gamebirds

    If you hunt or know some that do, all kinds of stuff from woodcock, pheasant, different partridge, grouse, and quail have great feathers. In addition to the "cape area" (neck) look at the feathers from the wing coverts


    Hen
    Capes will generally have a more useful range of sizes for soft hackles than saddles. "Genetic" hen capes raised for fly tying will generally have more useful size ranges for softhackles than imported "Indian" capes but will be more expensive. In addition to Whiting hens, the JV Hens (juvenile hens) from www.conranch.com are exceptional for softhackles with flexible easy to wrap stems and great barb length for trout sized flies.

    Looking at some of the stuff I have lying around here to give you an idea of feather sizes and prices:

    [COLOR="Silver"]
    Last edited by peregrines; 05-27-2010 at 09:23 PM.
    Mark

  8. #8

    Default Re: Soft Hackle

    I will have to give Frank's method a try, I have been doing something similar to make legs for nymphs and emerger wings. Where I pull it through and lock it down. I have never thought of spinning it. I really like tying soft hackle wets, so I guess I'll have to invest in a skin. I have been tying a lot of possie buggers and ultra wire emergers lately. But it won't be easy explaining why I want to spend $30 just to bring a dead animal into the house...

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Soft Hackle

    Spinning doesn't always work, but you can always tie two feathers in almost as quickly as one. I like the Craven method for two reasons: I already have tons of feather bags, and I can get an exact length from any feather. There have been times when I've been able to find small feathers in those bags, but I never thought it was quicker/easier than the Craven procedure. Did I mention that I have LOTS of feathers in bags?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Soft Hackle

    One of the places I like to use for soft-hackles is Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone. Craig sells a premium skin as well as other materials. he can also get you the best hide patch for tying primo Sparkle Duns. Here's his link: Blue Ribbon Flies \\ Merchandise \\ Fly Tying \\ Soft Hackle Materials

    Charlie Craven's site is also one of the best and he has some top supplies.

    Kelly.
    I fish, therefore I am - but I gotta go to work first..."piscari ergo sum"

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