Using larger feathers on small soft hackles

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by zen leecher aka bill w, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 2,974
    Moses Lake, WA
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    Years ago I knew how to twirl an oversized hun feather on a small soft hackle and make it appear properly sized. Now.. my memory fails me.

    Does anyone have a link to a video or instructions on how to do this and not have either oversized feathers or feathers that lay flat against the hook?

    It might just be that I've gotten too good at binding down feathers and can't spin them under the thread any more. Right now I'm tying #16 and #18's.
  2. Chad Lewis NEVER wonder what to do with your free time

    Posts: 872
    TriCities, WA
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    The method I use is from 'The Fly Tier's Benchside Reference' book. The feathers you want to use are stripped from the quill (after making sure they're oriented 90 degrees from the quill and the tips are aligned). Measure your length against the hook and hold the feathers against the side of the hook closest to you- I find this easier than holding them against the top of the hook. Then, use the tying thread and your fingers to encourage the feathers to spread themselves around the hook as you wrap the thread. You are using the thread to push the feathers around the shank, binding in a few as you go. Takes a little practice, but I like the results. They do lay flatter against the hook than a wound feather- not sure what you could do about that. But so far no complaints from the fish. With flies that small, the hackle is probably very prominent anyway.
    I also use 12/0 thread on flies this size. I tried a couple different methods, but this was the best for me. I tie up little black soft hackles (size 20,22) for RF using this method. They like the flies just fine, but landing one without bending out the hook is a bit of a trick.
  3. chewydog Active Member

    Posts: 116
    Golden, Colorado
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    I do it different. Tie the barbs in pointing past the hook eye. Leave a heads worth of bare shank behind the eye. Tie the fly. Pull hackles back to desired position and build head in front. Kinda like a comparadun wing.
  4. Norm Frechette Active Member

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    Norwich, CT
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  5. Mark Walker Active Member

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    So. Cal.
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    Nice clip, Norm!
  6. Jamie Wilson Active Member

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    Arlington WA
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  7. Preston Active Member

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    The method shown to me by a tier at the Fly Tiers Expo in Oregon a number of years ago (I believe Dave Hughes describes the same method in one of his books) is as follows: Lay down a thread base then wind on the hackle at a point somewhere along the shank of the hook. Exactly where will depend on the hook size and the length of the hackle fibers; this is largely a matter of judgement and will become easier with experience. Stroke the hackle fibers forward along the hook shank and wrap them down with the tying thread to a point just behind the eye of the hook. At this point, all of the hackle fibers will be pointing forward over the eye of the hook (in appearance rather like a reverse spider). I usually apply the body at this point (dubbing, floss, biot, whatever, and rib if desired). Tying off the body material behind the eye of the hook, spread and arrange the hackle fibers and stroke them back, take the thread through the hackle fibers and form a small head to hold them back in the proper position.

    This method works well with most soft-hackle feathers, particularly all of those oversized partridge feathers. Just looked at Norm Frechette's video which appears to show the same (or similar) method.
  8. bitterroot Love vintage graphite!

    Posts: 1,426
    Snohomish, WA
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    Great video, Thanks!
  9. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 2,974
    Moses Lake, WA
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    Thanks for the tips. These will work. I did see one years ago that involved cutting a "vee" in the feather tip, placing it on the hook in the correct orientation, taking a couple of loops of line over the feathers and allowing them to spin around the hook. My stuff sure won't spin these days. Must be the pre-waxed thread. I will use the methods Norm and Preston posted.
  10. silvercreek Active Member

    Posts: 308
    Ratings: +176 / 0
    So we have the method shown by Charlie Craven and the overwrap method on the YouTube Video. Here is a third method:

    You can make a dubbing loop and put in Soft Hackle Fibers using the Marc Petitjean Magic Tool. I post it because it uses a home made version of the Magic Tool.

    You actually don't need the tool. You will need a thick foam blocks (from a thick pair of foam sandals), a credit card, and a set of bulldog paper clamps. Cut a straight slit in the foam blocks from end to end. The slit has to reach to both ends of the foam blocks to be able to release the fibers later.

    Put the Soft Hackle fiber stems over the slit in the foam block and use the old credit card to push the fiber stems into the slit.

    Use the paper clamp in the place of the transparent Petitjean clamp to hold the end of the soft hackle plumes. Open the slit in the foam block to release the fibers and you are in business. The soft hackle fibers are lined up, cut off the stem(s) and place the fibers into the dubbing loop.

    With this simple set of homemade and cheap bought tools you can do what the Magic Tool does.

    See the method below:

    See also these URLs which uses CDC with the foam block method. Just substitute soft hackle for the CDC.