Split-thread hackle SBS


Active Member
Another way to use those big feathers for soft hackles.

tied here on a basic Pheasant Tail

this feather would be perfect for a #8 but I'm interested in something more like a #18

insert the barbs in clip (extend about shank length); Petijean's is a nice tool, and makes it easy to show the process in photos, but any clip will do the job

trim the butt ends close, but leave enough to grab with the thread

split thread (UTC 70 used here)

insert clip

slide thread down till it captures the barbs and release clip

spin bobbin to lock in feather barbs

wet fingers, stroke fibers back while wrapping "hackle"

half hitch, SHHAN

Craig Mathews
and Walter Wiese
have put together excellent instructions using oversize feathers, but for the life of me, I can't spin one like Mathews and when I use Walter's method, I often get uneven distribution around the fly (more a matter of lack of ability on my part). Using the split-thread really doesn't take much longer and I've found it produces consistent results for me; YMMV.



Active Member
This one with an aftershaft (pheasant)

insert feather in split thread

try to capture it close to quill

trim quill side away

spin bobbin to trap fibers

wet fingers, stroke fibers back

although fibers are a bit matted here, they get real buggy in the water

Nice thing about the aftershaft feathers is they work just as well on even smaller hooks. This one's a #16, but I can go down to a #22 scud hook easily; just a matter of adjusting how far they protrude.



Active Member

Thanks for the alternative method (Walter), I have been using the Mathews method but they are not coming out to my liking for the exact reason you mentioned.
I learned the method that Walter Wiese demonstrates. It works, but does have the problem of not usually giving uniform distribution of hackle barbs, but as he points out, that doesn't matter to the fish. A modification of the method he shows is to nip the stem of the feather back down a bit from the tip, leaving a 'V', then pinch the barbs together pointing forward and tie it down as he does with a clump of barbs pulled from one side.

I bought a Pettijean kit several years ago and played with it a bit, but haven't used it much. I think it affords some really creative possibilities, if one experiments with it for a while.