Partridge for soft hackle flies

weiliwen

Active Member
#1
I'm getting quite frustrated with my soft hackles. I have to say, Hans Weilenmann and Davey McPhail make it look easy. Anyway, every time I try to wrap my partridge feathers, they're quite webby, and don't work well at all. Am I just using crummy feathers, or the wrong ones, maybe? Any sources for really good, non-webby feathers?
 

jersey

livin' the dream
#2
Are you stripping one side of the feathers before palmering? Sometimes it allows for easier wraps.

Are you using feathers from a bag or do you have a skin? The bags really are frustrating, as the usable feathers are limited.
 

weiliwen

Active Member
#4
Yup, I'm using a partridge skin. I tossed out my bag of feathers some time ago out of frustration. Perhaps I'm using feathers from the wrong part of the skin. And I am stripping one side first. I have a feeling it comes down to:
1 I am using the wrong technique, or
2 I am using the wrong feathers from the skin.

I notice that the two tiers above go about their ties completely differently. Hans does strip one side of the feather, and mounts it with the stem facing rearward. Davey just uses a short double-sided section, and mounts it with the tip rearward. Both end up looking much better than mine! Oh well, I'll keep plugging away until I start coming up with ties that I like. Thanks for your advice!
 

ScottP

Active Member
#5
For me, the webbier, the better; I never strip the "inside" fibers (like Hans W. often does), preferring a fuller look. Do you tie them in by the tip? I've found that allows the fibers to lay the way I like them; it's also easier, and causes less breakage, than tying the feather in by the butt and holding the fragile tip in the pliers. Stroking the fibers back with moistened fingers before/as you wrap helps, too.

Regards,
Scott
 
#6
I'm working with small feather from a partridge and pheasant neck feathers right now and I find that stripping one side helps a lot. I have often broken the tip and had to take it off and start over but I honestly believe it goes with the territory. Years ago I tried to salvage the feathers and came up with crummy looking flies. Now I just take it off and start over. I'm learning patience.:cool: And I would never even mention my name in the same sentence as Hans or Davey. They are two of the best in the world.
 

Buzzy

Active Member
#7
Yup, I'm using a partridge skin. I tossed out my bag of feathers some time ago out of frustration. Perhaps I'm using feathers from the wrong part of the skin. And I am stripping one side first. I have a feeling it comes down to:
1 I am using the wrong technique, or
2 I am using the wrong feathers from the skin.

I notice that the two tiers above go about their ties completely differently. Hans does strip one side of the feather, and mounts it with the stem facing rearward. Davey just uses a short double-sided section, and mounts it with the tip rearward. Both end up looking much better than mine! Oh well, I'll keep plugging away until I start coming up with ties that I like. Thanks for your advice!
I share your pain (well, frustration) and think perhaps I need to buy a partridge skin (I tied from an old Hun that I killed). Maybe all Hun skins are not equal?
 
#8
Scott nailed it, always tie in at the tip so both sides (unless you're stripping one side) want too or can be forced to lie facing back, moisten fingers and fold back and squeeze them together, one or two wraps should be enough. Some times I'll pre fold the feather before tying in, extra step but will allow crappy feathers to lie correctly.
 

GAT

Dumbfounded
#9
I'm not sure what you mean when you say the feathers don't work well. Do you want the fibers flare to the rear of the pattern as with a traditional wet fly or do you want them to flare outward at less of a degree of angle?

I tie some of my soft hackles more like a traditional wet fly. Others I tie with the fibers flaring more outward similar to a dry fly. So far, I've caught trout with both styles so while it may make a difference to what the soft hackle looks like to fly anglers, the fish don't seem to care.
 

Tim Cottage

Formerly tbc1415
#10
When selecting feathers from the skin pay attention to the feather's natural shape. Feathers to the right and left of the midline tend to have a natural curvature to the right and left. Also feathers from different parts of the body tend to be cupped along their length as opposed to flat along their length. Use these natural attributes to your advantage.
After you have wrapped a webby feather and before you apply head cement take a few seconds to separate and spread the fibers with the pointy end of your bodkin.

TC
 

IveofIone

Active Member
#13
The "Bag of Feathers" reminds me of a funny story. One of my nieces married a guy that boasted of being a mighty hunter and one year he was letting everyone know he was going on a big elk hunt. I wrote and asked him to send me some elk hair if he got one. He did get an elk that year and afterwords I got a shoe box sized package from him. I opened it up expecting a lifetime supply of elk hair and to my surprise I found an entire box full of elk hair that had been trimmed off of the hide!
 

ScottP

Active Member
#15
View attachment 163822
This is what I aspire to...

This is tied by a guy whose moniker on the UKFF site is Colinc1978. Pretty good fly tier, from my perspective.
Very sparse, very nice. The grizzly hackle on that fly appears to be tied in by the butt - the hackle fibers being more perpendicular to the hook shank. If you want your partridge to look like that, I'd tie it in by the butt, too. Make sure you have a smooth thread underbase to wrap the hackle on; otherwise results will be problematic.

Regards,
Scott
 

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