Novice Fly tying question

Question for all the fly tying gurus-
What is the best kind of hackle to get for dries and what are the three best colors to have for starting a fly tying kit?

JAson, the novice fly tyer

:dunno :beathead
Jason your question is not very definitive but I will reply in general and then maybe you can refine your question.
But before you go out and buy a lot of material buy at least one good book that shows the recepies and maybe a how to section. Then figure out what you want to tie. You can go into the archives on this sight as there have been discussion about what flys do you use. Also check out the pics in the fly swaps, some really gifted tiers on the sight.
Then find a fly tieng class or find a good tyer to mentor you.
In general for trout type dries I use the grizzly and furnace almost exclusively. I almost always buy the #2 patch but a #1 is generally preffered by most. A lot of shops will actually have hackle listed for dries, wets or nymphs written on the packaging. If you live in the Federal Way area you might go and visit Puget Sound Fly company. They sponsor this sight and are god guys. I don't think they would over sell you on a product.


You will probably have to be a bit more specific especially in regard to the hook sizes you want to learn on, how much you are willing to spend etc. Absent any other information I would consider stating with a Metz Dry Fly Multi-Pack in the medium (size 12-16). These packs feature three different color combos each-again absent any further info I'd start with the pack that has grizzly, brown, and light dun. See Cabela's 2004 Catalog p. 96. Possibly the local fly shops have something similar.

Good tying :p
I admit, my question was quite vague. Right now I have Whiting bronze half neck in a brown color and two small packs of grizzly and black hackle for a size 14. I hate those little packs though because the hackles are only 2" long! I gather from your information that if I want to tie stuff like march browns, mayflies, and adams I should get a good variety of grizzly. thanks for the info.


"10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish." Happy fishing!

Rob Blomquist

Formerly Tight Loops
Brown, Grizzly and ginger or pale blue dun.

I really like buying half necks of silver grade hackle. I get a whole bunch of feathers in sizes from #6 to #20. and they are usually $20-25 each.

Metz and Whiting dry fly hackle is both pretty good. But quite frankly you are taking on the hardest flys first. I would get into Carey Specials, Wooley Buggers, and some nymphs before I was planning to tie dry flies. They can be a real pain if you don't have the basics down.


Kent Lufkin

Remember when you could remember everything?
Rob's right about starting with nymphs first for several reasons. In most commonly-fished sizes, they're generally larger, which means more forgiving of a beginner's technique. Their proportions are also not as critical as dries. Finally, as you've found out from pricing necks or capes, dry fly hackle is much more expensive than the hen hackle, pheasant, grouse, partridge or marabou commonly required for nymphs.

You might consider buying a book that has step by step instructions for a variety of patterns starting with simple ones and working up to the more difficult. Randall Kauffman's 'Tying Nymphs' is teriffic for the beginner as is his 'Tying Dry Flies' for more advanced tyers.

"A true gentleman is someone who knows how to play the accordion, but doesn't." ~ Anonymous
Everything thats already been said I agree with. I prefer a grizzly which I use about 75% of the time. My other two choices would be a dun and furnace. I also prefer to use saddle over necks. The benefit is longer feathers the down side is you usually only have 3 to 4 hook sizes to work with. A neck gives you a mych larger variety of hook sizes but the feathers are not as long. I also prefer to use Whiting. Good Luck and Happy tying:D
Good advice so far and mostly I can just confirm what has been said. Since you already have a brown half neck, I would look at definitely getting a grizzly half neck, and then maybe a medium dun. Some might say a ginger of some sort, but I think around here the medium dun will see more use. Personally, I like the Whiting silver grade, but the bronze will work just fine if you don't have the $$.

Fortuna and Rob are right, dries are typically much more difficult than nymphs, but don't let that intimidate you. You have to attempt them at some point, and the more you tie the better you get.

This site is a great source of info, so ask questions when you are at a loss. Good luck and happy tying. :thumb
I got to agree with those who voted for a Grizzly, brown and dun. Those are the colors I use most anyway. Being on a limited income I try to get the most bang for my buck, so I buy my hackle from Denny Conrad over in Elk, WA. It's a family run business that sells directly to the tyers, no stores. You can check his hackle at or call him at (509) 999-7472. Let Denny know what your tying and he won't sell you stuff you don't need. A real straight shooter. Before you buy though, do a Google search for Conranch Hackle and read some of the product reviews.

I don't have any interest in Conranch except Denny is a good guy and I like his hackle.

Ron Eagle Elk
Thanks everyone for the advice. I do have a book but it does not go through step by step and show diagrams of how to tie specific patterns. All it does is show how to do certain techniques. I do tie lots of streamers and wooley buggers but I'm still working of getting it down really good. I tie a size 10 and size 6 with a red glass bead head, olive and black chenile, olive maribou tail and pheasant rump for the hacle. I've caught lots of big ones with this patter. I'm also pretty comfortable tying olive and black nymphs and some chronomid variations. I just recently learned how to whip finish thanks to which has really improved my tying ability. I have just recently tried a couple of dries. Two size 16 brown flies turned out alright and I will probably give them a go this summer when I am hiking. I am planning on getting a book about still water patterns from Kauffmens so I will have a good book to look at very soon. Thanks everyone for your suggestions and imput. I'm always looking for new places to find great quality fly tying supplies, so thank you all very much for giving me some names of places.


Mike Etgen

Not Quite A Luddite, But Can See One From Here
New River Mike

I've been out of town so came into this discussion late. I did want to add that as a relative newcomer, a book I've gotten a lot of value from is Skip Morris' "Flytying Made Clear and Simple."
I picked up a copy through Amazon that was nearly brand new and about half the price of a new one, and the book itself is well organized and thought out, concisely written, and well-illustrated. Following it has improved my tying confidence and ability immeasurably.
Beyond that, all these others have directed you well. In fact, I should have been asking the same question a year ago!


AKA: Gregory Mine
If you can find it, Cree is a great multi color hackle. It has brown,tan, and grizzly all in one feather. It is getting harder to come by, but it is out there.


Active Member
The easiest and best quality hackle for dry flies today come from 'Whiting Farms' Saddles. They are extremely easy to work with due to the length of the feathers, thin stems and density of fibers.
The three most widely used colors are Grizzly, Brown and Dun.
If you do not want to invest in an entire saddle consider a 1/2 saddle, or the '100 packs' that are now available.
These are very high quality and very long (10"-12").

If you have any more questions feel free to contact me
at Puget Sound Fly Company, by e-mailing me or calling(253-839-4119)
everything said here is right on. I agree with the Whiting farms saddles. it's the best I have every worked with. I would invest in at least Half a saddle of the three mentioned above, also I would go ahead and get the 100 pack of Ginger. Like everybody says you just don't use that color alot but there is a call for it on light Cahill's and I have had pretty good luck with those. You might want to check out the video "tying western flies" by lanny Waller. I got alot of good info there, even though he ties alot of hair flies, like the irresistable he shows very good placement for wings and wrapping hackle. when you get more experience you are gonna have to try the irrestable Adams it is an excellent fly to tie.
The problem with saddles, and the hudred packs, is the fact that you will end up with a very limited number of sizes. If you know you'll only be tying say, only 14's and 16's then they are definitely your best choice. On the other hand, if you're like most of us, you'll be tying anywhere from 10's to 20's. In that case you'll want to buy necks. The Whiting 100's are relatively inexpensive, but if you need 6 sizes in three colors it will get expensive very quickly.