Duck neck or back feathers?

Discussion in 'Cast & Blast' started by Kent Lufkin, Mar 3, 2010.

  1. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    An old timer recently showed me how to tie a killer soft hackle nymph he developed over the years.

    Through trial and error (and being a waterfowl hunter himself) he settled on duck neck or back feathers for the collar hackle as being much more durable than the usual but more fragile grouse or partridge. He says that either mallard of pintail work equally well. On the examples I've seen, the hackle feathers are a uniform medium to medium-light gray in color with a slight barring pattern. They're not dark or colored.

    Problem is, unless one is a hunter, such feathers are virtually impossible to obtain commercially.

    If anyone might be able to point me to a source (or even send a few plucked feathers along) I'd be eternally grateful. Heck, I'd even share the pattern!

    K
  2. Upton O Blind hog fisherman

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    out of state now
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    Kent,
    I'll check and see what I've got. I ran across some feathers the other day. You're welcome to them.

    Karl
  3. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Thanks Karl. Please send me a PM to coordinate.

    K
  4. Jeff Hale B.I.G.F.F.

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    Bainbridge Island, WA
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    Kent-

    i will keep you in mind for next year; I throw out so many good feathers because I can't use them all, but would be happy to save bagfuls of pintail and mallard feathers for you. let me check my last bag of Pintail. Jeff
  5. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Thanks Jeff!

    K
  6. D3Smartie Active Member

    Posts: 1,987
    WA
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    I have a bunch of mallards in the freezer that could be plucked for your purposes. Exactly what feathers are you wanting?
    You might also think about teal feathers as they have some very nice flank feathers. I have bags and bags of flank feathers already plucked but not sure if they will have what you are looking for.
  7. D3Smartie Active Member

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    WA
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    how big are the feathers you are looking for?
  8. floatinghat Member

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    near enough to Seattle
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    Can you describe the pattern? Soft hackle and nymphs are different styles / stages. Would you fish these as a nymph or emerger?
  9. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    The pattern I'm trying to replicate is a soft hackle. It's ridiculously simple, tied on a size 10 2x long nymph hook with a dubbed body over lead wire wraps and a collar hackle tied off with a thread head.

    The duck feathers I'm looking for will be used for the collar hackle. I've got plenty of mallard flank feathers which are way too large for the fly in question.

    Having not seen duck neck or back feathers in person I can only best describe the shape and size of feathers from other birds that I'd use for the same purpose. Feathers from a pheasant rump, or a grouse, partridge or hen would be about an inch wide and shovel-shaped (once the stem and webby underfibers are trimmed). The hackle fibers on the finished fly need to be about 3/4" long.

    Thanks again for your consideration.

    K
  10. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    Posts: 1,694
    Outer Duvall
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    Kent
    Mind if I add a visual here?
    The originator of the fly wants to keep the pattern under the radar. With respect for his wish I have cropped a photo of the fly to show only the hackle feather in question. This is neither a mallard or pintail flank but it may still come from another part of the body of a Mallard or Pintail. It could very well come from a female or a different duck entirely.

    The color is basically brown with black barring. As usual the underside of the feather is lighter that the top. It has a bit more grey to it. Sorry for the crappy photo but you can still see the color and barring.

    Thanks
    TC
  11. Smalma Active Member

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    Marysville, Washington
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    A nice mature drake widgeon has some very nice feathers (from the flanks as well as the bird's shoulder) for tying soft hackles. While there are not a lot of feathers for a given size from a single bird I get some that I use on flies from size 12 to size 2.

    They are dark brown in color which provides an interesting change from most soft hackles. Soft hackles/spiders tied with those feathers have been go to change of pace pattern for me several decades.

    Tight lines
    Curt
  12. Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

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    Outer Duvall
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    Is this your basic American Widgeon.



  13. Slipstream Member

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    Goldendale, WA
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  14. Upton O Blind hog fisherman

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    Those two photos are from drake and hen mallards. You want some, let me know. Some are available outside of hunting season since dog trainers use domesticated strains of mallards in their field work. You need some? I can see what is available.
  15. Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Thanks to Karl Shaffer, we discovered that widgeon feathers are the secret ingredient I was looking for in the mystery pattern. Karl has graciously offered to get some skins for me this fall but I was wondering if anybody might have some of these that they'd be willing to send me in the meantime?

    Thanks in advance,

    Kent

    [IMG]
  16. mtelford Mike Telford

    Posts: 16
    Bend, Oregon
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    I used some neck feathers off of a widgeon feathers to make great looking, smaller soft hackles. The feathers in the pic are flank feathers.