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turbineblade 11-17-2012 12:55 PM

Pokey hackle thingy -- how to avoid
Hi, when tying woolly buggers or any other pattern where you are palmering a hackle, how do you guys prevent that hard, pokey piece of feather from sticking out from the body? I'm finding that I get this alot and cannot get the scissors close enough to get a close cut to avoid this.


Ard 11-17-2012 01:13 PM

Re: Pokey hackle thingy -- how to avoid
You must mean the quill, that's a tough one to answer without doing a demo.

If you are wrapping the feather 'Palmer' style then you are tying it in at the rear by the tip and winding forward. That quill will become thicker as you get closer to the base of the feather. You either need to find hackles with really long fibers (like Schlappen) or find a way to avoid wrapping all the way to that thick butt end of the quill.

Try to make the point where you tie the feather off on the bottom and use plenty of thread tension to bind it down as tightly to the hook and body materials as you can.

The scissors are part of the result, what type do you have? I have been using the same pair of Dr. Slick curved blades for over 20 years and they'll still trim a quill pretty close. After you have the quill strapped down tight, be careful not to cut your thread when trying to get close. Oh, you already did that huh :D If not just remember it is a danger and is always a bummer when it happens.

So: Good long hackle fibers; Plenty of tension at the tie down; Good scissors and be careful; After you have it trimmed put a few more really tight wraps over the butt.

The only other trick I could point you to is to soak the hackles. This will soften the quills and they won't want to splinter or break on you (hardly ever) Learning to tie with wet hackles is another part of fly tying but I do it every time I tie. Every salmon fly I make I use wet hackle so that I don't have to deal with either a feather breaking when I'm almost done, or those real stiff butts that just don't want to tie down.

Keep me posted on whether any of this turns out to be helpful.


Rip Tide 11-17-2012 01:53 PM

Re: Pokey hackle thingy -- how to avoid
You have to look for the "sweet spot" on the quill
The point where the stem just does not want to bend well and then plan on using only the flexible part. That might mean tying in somewhere up the hook shank rather than at the normal logical tie in point.

Then there's superglue... the duct tape of fly tying :rolleyes:

When you're getting close to what should be the tie off point, dose the hackle stem with superglue and hold it in place. When it's secure, clip the "pokey thingy" and then tie it down... or not.
If the hackle is glued in well, you won't even have to tie it. :grin:

turbineblade 11-17-2012 02:54 PM

Re: Pokey hackle thingy -- how to avoid
Awesome -- great tips guys! :)

I'll give it a try and see what happens. My favorite flies are smaller #12-14 woolly buggers at this point....tied with "bugger pack" hackle and "woolly bugger marabou". I'm using peacock herl bodies and that weird ice dubbing because I think it looks more interesting than chenille :). My flies are getting better and better....WAY better than the 1st bugger I tied....boy, you guys should have seen that mess. It looked like something Dali would paint.

billyspey 11-17-2012 05:25 PM

Re: Pokey hackle thingy -- how to avoid
The quills for the saddle is not as large or as stiff as hackles from the neck.

ted4887 11-17-2012 06:33 PM

Re: Pokey hackle thingy -- how to avoid
If you have real steady hands, you can use a safety razor to slice it off. Although, you need to be VERY careful to not knick your tying thread. Nothing will bum you out more thn watching your new bug come unraveled because you slipped a little bit.

Probably best to stick with Ard's info. In fact, just as a general rule of thumb... always pay attention to what he has to say. You're bound to learn something new.

s fontinalis 11-17-2012 08:18 PM

Re: Pokey hackle thingy -- how to avoid
Search sparkle ghost bugger on the forum. It shows how i Tie the hackle on a bugger

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