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  1. Default hackle questions

    hey guys, i want to buy some black hackle to tie some wooly worms and black ants. im new to tying and have never bought hackle before. I'm buying off cabelas and im just wondering what would be good for my application.

    i was looking at this

    Cabela's -- Jay Fair Premium Saddle Strands

    and this

    Cabela's -- Whiting 100-Pack Saddle Hackle - Size 12

    the whiting farms are sized for each size fly but i want to tie different size flies. can i cut the hackle to length or no. and how many flies should i get for a hackle. sorry for all the questions but i need help.

  2. Default Re: hackle questions

    Hi, both hackles you are looking at will work just fine. I buy most of my stuff from Cabela's as well. You can get at least 100 or more flies from those packs you are looking at. When the package sais a certain size hackle, you can get smaller sized hackle from the same saddle as well. I have only been tying for about a year now and I am just speaking from my personal experience. The feathers seem to last forever. I look at mine and it doesn't even look like I have put a dent in them. That is my opinion. I hope that helps you. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Central Florida

    Default Re: hackle questions

    Hi eagles,

    If you are wanting your Woolly Worm to float and fish as a dry fly the hackle you are looking at will work. It is dry fly hackle. If you are wanting to fish your Woolly Worm sub-surface it is not the best hackle. I use to use a Woolly Worm for Grayling but I fished it as a wet fly. The fly had lead wrapped on the shank to sink the fly. I used a little wider and softer Saddle Hackles.

    If you are going to tye any Sub-Surface Woolly Buggers or worms the dry fly hackle is not the best choice. For wet Woolly Worms and Woolly Buggers you need a softer hackle than what you are looking at. Some of the best Woolly Bugger hackle is the Whiting Bugger Packs. They are selected for tying Woolly Buggers.

    You can tell from the photos very well but the Bugger feathers are shorter, softer and tapered. You can see in the Dry Fly Packs how long, and narrow they are with no taper.


    Whiting Bugger Pack

    Whiting Dry Fly Packs

  4. Default Re: hackle questions

    thanks for all your replies guys.


    i wanted to tie both dry and wet wooly worms so ill need different hackle. But for the ant, its a dry fly so ill need dry hackle right or will a soft hackle float it ok because isnt an ant supposed to float in the film of the water not directly on top.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Bedford County, Penna. ....pretty rural

    Default Re: hackle questions

    You're correct about the ants. Dry hackle for the top or a sparse soft hackle for a slightly submerged ant. I've used the black, irridescent (sp.) feathers from a cock ringneck neck for that as well. What are you tying the ant body from? Of course foam will work for the top patterns, or are you dubbing the body from dry fly dubbing or just forming the body with tying thread?

  6. #6

    Default Re: hackle questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Whiton View Post
    Some of the best Woolly Bugger hackle is the Whiting Bugger Packs. They are selected for tying Woolly Buggers.I recently ordered several of the "Bugger Packs" from Blue Ribbon Flies and was extremely impressed with the quality and feather count of the packs. For $14.00 a pkg, you cannot beat this.

    You can tell from the photos very well but the Bugger feathers are shorter, softer and tapered.

    As far as "cutting the hackle to length", no you do not want to do this as it will give the hackle tips a squared off end that look unrealistic. Not saying that there are not instances where you can't do this, but for the application intended I would say not to.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Re: hackle questions


    Your best bet would be to find a local fly shop to buy materials. They can help you select the right materials to get you started, and also can give you some tips on tying patterns. This time of year many shops or local chapters of Trout Unlimited and Federation of Fly Fishers will be giving beginning fly tying classes. This is by far the best way to go, you’ll learn a ton. You can find local chapters in your area here:
    Council/Chapter Search | Trout Unlimited - Conserving coldwater fisheries
    Locate a Club

    Buying materials can be really confusing, as you’ve noticed. A good fly shop will guide you through this, and you can ask a ton of questions, examine the material to make sure it’s the right size etc.

    Just to throw some ideas out there for you, for dry fly hackle, the Whiting 100 packs have great hackle, but you only get one size and one color for about 13-15 bucks. They’ll tie about 100 flies, using the long saddle feathers to tie several flies apiece. Instead of a 100 pack, you could get a Whiting Bronze ½ Saddle for about 28-30. A Whiting Bronze Saddle will generally have most of the feathers in 2 sizes with some bigger and some smaller. Most seem to run mainly 14-16, with some 12’s and 18’s and maybe a few 10’s. Saddles from other brands usually run in bigger sizes, with most feathers in a 2 or 3 range of sizes. A Bronze ½ neck should give you enough feathers to tie around 250 flies. Because the ½ saddle is cut length wise, you’ll get a full range of sizes. (A ¼ Saddle is cut lengthwise and across its width, and you’ll end up with a more limited range of sizes either bigger or smaller because of the way feathers grow on the bird.)

    Another good buy is a Herbert Miner Pro Grade neck for about 25 bucks which will have a range of sizes most down to 18, but Whiting saddles might be easier to work with (more flexible thinner stems) and easier to find.
    Since you’re just starting out, I think you’ll find that black is kind of a limiting color for most dries besides ants and a few caddis. You might want to start out with a grizzly, brown or medium dun (medium gray) instead.
    Any of these colors would work with ants, and will likely be more useful for a lot of the other patterns you’ll be tying down the road. And since ants have short legs, I’d tie them with a smaller feather than the hook size, using a 14 feather on a 12 hook.

    For wet fly hackle, you’ll want to use softer, webbier and less expensive stuff as other folks have pointed out. Woolly Buggers (with a marabou tail) typically run larger than Woolly Worms and might be a better pattern to start with. They are also very effective. A Bugger pack would be good for them (about 13 bucks), or you could get a pack of black strung saddle hackle for about 3-5 bucks for either woolly buggers or woolly worms.

    Again, actually being able to pick stuff up in a fly shop and having someone work with you to select stuff out is a great advantage, especially with natural materials like fur and feathers because of all the confusing choices as well as the wide natural variation between individual critters in terms of size range, number of twisted stems, color etc.

    Hope this helps.


  8. Default Re: hackle questions

    I just use the cheap strung chinese saddle hackle you can get for $5 a pack. it works good enough for me on my buggers but might not work on smaller buggers cause sometimes the hackle tends to be longer than the more expensive whiting hackles.
    "Hey, you.Get your damn hands off my herl !!!!"

    owner of the GL Fishing Forum.

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