Long hackle fibers (intruders/spey flies)

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Ed Call, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    I've watched tons of tying videos on tying intruder type and spey type flies. I've collected a few materials suitable for spey hackle and intruders that provide long fibers. My current supply has a bit of amherst center tail feather, ostrich herl in several colors, pheasant tail and body feathers, some probably low quality mallard and teal, blood quill maribou, turkey shoulder feathers and a few blue eared pheasant feathers. What, if any other feathers are you all using for your long intruder fibers or spey hackles. I'm currently enjoying the tying of sparse flies that have a larger profile. (I don't have any Rhea as of yet, but I do have that on my list of materials to try).

    Now that my tying space is somewhere warm I'm going to try to tie a few different things each night.

    Thanks for your input (and possible sources if you are willing to share).
  2. stilly stalker

    stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

    You can do a lot with good schlappen.
    Rhea is hard to find, I know avid angler still has some, but its expensive, and Im not thrilled with the colos they have.
    You can get dyed peacock fibers, Ive been using purple dyed lately and love it. Its stiff, glittery and cheap as hell. put it in a loop, or just tie it in.
    Blake Harmon likes this.
  3. bouface

    bouface Member

    stilly stalker,

    Are you talking about peacock herl, tail feathers, or something else?

  4. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    I have some peacock eye feathers, not just herl, but from the tail covering feathers. That stuff is a new addition to my kit and will find its shimmering way into some dubbing loops for sure. I do have some long schlappen, wish I could find some with longer fibers though.
  5. stilly stalker

    stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

    Im talking about herl, I suppose, but you want the nice fibers off tail feathers that have a taper to them. I don't like that most herl you get is uniform with no taper
  6. scottflycst

    scottflycst Active Member

    When you're looking for something specific (or know what you want), give Dave a call at Waters West. His shop has always been a tiers shop with materials that other shops don't carry. I remember seeing some nice spey materials there.
  7. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Scott, I actually have some stuff coming from WW that he custom dyed...another day or so to dry. I just wondered what other options there might be. I'm trying to broaden my scope beyond maribou and ostrich herl only.
  8. g_smolt

    g_smolt Recreational User

    Rhea, burnt schlappen (spey hackles), burnt ringneck tail, black bear, jumbo-xl-superbitchin'-"shhh" guinea (available at a hefty price), peacock sword, xl arctic fox, heavy temple dog...

    The trick is to tie a new material onto a shank then throw it in the bathtub on a line, drag it around a bit...does it wiggle? Does it pulse? Does it look like it would piss off anything it happened to swing in front of?

    If the answer is yes, incorporate it into your fly tying.
    stilly stalker likes this.
  9. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Awesome info Mr. G_Smolt. Bathtub...na, how about the 80 gallon aquarium that I relocated into the basement to allow my desk to move into the heated house? One circulating pump in there to create current and I should be tank testing most what I tie from this point forward! Thank you for the materials suggestions. I'll try to find a few of those and wrap them on a shank for size.
  10. Mark Yoshida

    Mark Yoshida Active Member

    Your a hoot. Next is to raise or bring some fish home to put them in the tank and really test your flies. I need to meet Ms Mumbles someday. She must have wings!!
  11. Jeff Dodd

    Jeff Dodd Active Member

    I stopped and purchased Rhea at Pacific Fly Fishers last Friday. They had many colors @ $6/feather. They also had a good supply of Lady Amherst sections about 5" in length so you could buy multiple colors at a lower price.

    Now that I've got these, I'll be tying more intruders. I forget to buy Schlappen, duh. Hate driving off the island
  12. stewart dee

    stewart dee Guest

    OK Mumbles take your Ostrich and mix 50/50 bleach and cold water. Drop the Ostrich in and swirl it around for 3 min. (you will find the exact time you like). Then as soon as you remove the feathers, then dip them in white vinegar mixed with some water = that kills the burn of the bleach from further damage. Then rinse in cold water, dry for a while and brush it gentle with a soft toothbrush on a flat surface. The barbs will be gone and the remaining feather IMO looks and flows better that Rhea for a third of the price.
  13. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Jeff, thank you. I know my local shop is browsing some options for me. Last I was in there he had the dyed peacock eyes, I thought the long shimery fibers looked good, like Stewie's burning recommendation only full of shine!. Thanks Stewart Dee, I'll mix up some bowls...maybe tomorrow.
  14. kelvin

    kelvin Active Member

    Rhea or Blue Ear Phe$ant
    Nature's Spirit makes some nice dyed peacock eyes that would do the trick as well I think
  15. constructeur

    constructeur Active Member

    I figured I'd throw this vid in to accompany Stewarts post for those that learn better visually.

  16. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks again Stewart Dee and Constructeur. Visual helps a lot. I was wondering if the materials were dyed if the bleaching and burning process will affect the coloration. Am I opening pandoras box into modifying or customizing materials, dying and all that jazz. One never knows what kind of things I'll try.
  17. Paul Huffman

    Paul Huffman Lagging economic indicator

  18. FT

    FT Active Member

    The best feathrs for ease of use, availability, and long-mobile hackle fibers with thin stems are in no particular order:

    1) Blue-eared pheasant for natural blue-grey heron substitute.

    2) Whiting Spey Hackle (not Whiting Bird Fur) preferably rooster neck due to the range of hackle size on the rooster neck. But Whiting Spey Hackle saddles are great if only tying larger spey and dee flies, and Whiting Spey Hackle Hen Necks are terrific for smaller spey flies.

    3) Good quality schlappen. This means that you will be tossing out 15%-20% of the feathers in a package of schlappen. However, it is readily available in a huge number of colors and when prepared properly makes a very good spey hackle.

    4) Coche feathers. These are long, thin-stemmed, side-tail feathers from roosters. They are availabe is a large number of colors, including the very hard to find 'bronze black' some of the old spey flies used. Many of the antique spey flies were tied with this feather as hackle. It is not easy to find though it is worth looking for.

    5) Rhea has very long fibers, but most of its stem is rather thick. This means that the feather has to be split to be able to use most of this rather expensive feather. To split it soak it for a few hours in room temperature water that has some hair conditioner added to it. Then bend the feather right where the stem starts to thicken and bend it far enough to break the stem. Grab both sides of the split stem and gently, firmly, and carefully pull it apart all the way down the stem. Clean some of the pith from each side of the stem by rubbeing it with the inside edge of your scissors and you now can use nearly the complete rhea feather. Rhea also has fibers that are much too long for all but the largest flies.

    6) Large Chinese Pheasant (ring-neck pheasant) rump feathers. Hareline Dubbing has offered white Chinese Pheasant skins for several years and they make for very good spey hackle in brighter colors.

    7) Turkey tail, ostrich, Amhearst tail, Golden Pheasant Tail, Chinese pheasant tail, heck pretty much any individual feather fiber can be used for spey hackle. They need to be bleached as per the directions provided before by another poster and they have to be put into a dubbing loop, tied around the body as spread out fibers at each body ribbing point, or make into a "hackle" by placing between 2 strands of very fine brass wire which are then spun to form the "hackle".

    8) Bleached goose shoulder. This feathers has a rather thick stem so it is difficult to work with. Splitting it will help.

    9) Duck flank feathers from any species of duck natural or dyed.
  19. Ed Call

    Ed Call Mumbling Moderator Staff Member

    I've begun to acquire a few of these mentioned items. Thank you greatly. I had some, now I have more. More is almost always better...almost.
  20. Ed

    When tying this pattern, remember, the profile you need is viewed from behind the fly. When in water, view from back should be the size of a dime to a quarter.