Pattern Trying to tie with Spey hackle

I am trying to expand my tying horizons. I bought some spey hackle and I'm giving it a go. Please critique my efforts, your comments will only serve to help me get better.

I am particularly interested in some tips that will help me finish the flies with a smaller head.



All 4 of those are tied on a Teimco 7999 size 4. The ones with black heads have 8.0 UTC and the ones with Red heads have 6.0 UTC



Active Member
Great flys Warren,

To keep your heads small, stroke or fold yorr hackles back as you wrap them on your collars, when you add a turn or two of teal or other throat or collar feathers keep working them forward to hide previous materials,*plan ahead for your head area and leave this area clean, and when finishing do not tie back your collars, or if you must only slightly, only use minimum wraps necessary for the job.
, this will help keep your heads smaller.Another trick is when you tye off one material used in the collar or elsewhere and then are ready to tye in another material you can often unwrap a turn or two or three of the previous wraps before tying in the next, this keeps things smaller in profile as well.

Having said all that-- sometimes some buildup in the head is preferable for "fishing" flies either for effect (such as for brightly colored heads) and or often they may be more durable.

Hope any or some of this makes sense as I am way rummy on my pain killers writing this tonight.


Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!!!

Very nice looking flies. In addition to the comments already made, comment on the heads is that they seem to be "spilling" forward on you. I note long necks in front of the head proper to the eye of the hook. Two things you can do to prevent this and thereby reduce the length of the head are: a) untwist the thread so it is a flat floss-like ribbon before tying the head off and b) make your whip finish from the front of the head backwards toward the rear of the hook to prevent the thread from "falling" forward. Hope this is of some help.

Thanks to all for the great tips, It is always good to get advice from those with more experience.

All I have to do now is apply what you all have been generous enough to tell me and keep on practicing. With any luck I will be able to tie like a pro in no time.

A special thanks to REE and FT who took the time to PM me with spey tying primers

Hello Warren:
In addition to the great advice above, I might add just for your consideration that 2 things that help me keep my head like a bullet and short, are some advice I picked up in some old salmon fly books:
1. 2-3 wraps side by side = 10 wraps overlapping + less bulk and:
2. Always finish the head off at the rear of the head-a neat little trick (per Mr John Hardy 1907)
Hope these help!
Hi Warren,
They look good from here! Like everything, prep is the key. If your spey hackle has not been burned, you need to burn it. It takes a water and bleach mixture to "burn" the hackle. This process removes the fine fur and separates the hackle. I will find the correct mixture for you when I make it back home.

Once the hackle is prepared, you tie in the hackle by the tip not by the quil. Then you "fold' the hackle. This is done, by wetting the hackle with water. Okay to use spit. Fold the hackle so that it has an A shape as you wind it onto the hook. You want to keep the turns almost on top of each other.

Try making a few marabou speys for the Nisqually chum!

John Shewey's book Spey Flies and Dee Flies has helped me a lot, and the flyshop I frequent LOL.

It is a must read for the serious tyer.

To burn your spey hackle, use a 1 part bleach to 3 parts cold water. Burn the hackle one at a time. Holding the stem, use your off hand to preen the hackle in the opposite direction, which separates the fibers.
Rinse in cold running water.
You might want to test this using a throw away hackle.

Good luck!

When you are burning, you might also want to have something like baking soda and water mixture handy too. This stops the burning as the feather can continue to burn even after you take it out and rinse. I have found this helps keep the hackle from getting too brittle when the bleach hides in the nooks of the stem. Looking good so far though.


Active Member
Actually, since bleach and baking soda are both alkalines, baking soda is not a good thing to use to stop the burning action of the bleach, despite what AK Best said in his book on dying and bleaching. To stop the burning action of the bleach, you need to put the feathers into a weak acid such as common white vinegar because to stop an alkaline from continuing to react with something, you need to use an acid.