Whiting farm hackles quality

yuhina

Tropical member
#1
Hey Guys...

need some help here...

I am on the market of buying dryfly hackle now... saw some PRO grade hackle from whiting farm, are they old hackles? I can't remember they still using Pro-grade? I thought everything now is Bronze, Silver and Gold?
I only interested in fresh hackles... (recent prepared pelts)

Also I heard there are NO difference in hackle quality between grades... the difference is total numbers each pelt can tie... is this true?

Thanks in advance!

Mark
 
#2
Yuhina, I don't tie many dry flies, but my buddy who runs a fly shop says the Pro Grade hackles could be fresh, depending on where you buy them. Two independent breeders I know say that there is no marked difference in hackle quality between the grades, what your paying for is usable feathers.
 

yuhina

Tropical member
#4
Thanks Ron,

I appreciate the great information. That's great to know there are some fresh Pro grades available. I have bought some Pro grade hackles before, and they are old (cheap). I can tell from the feather and the pelt (a little bit oily).
 

yuhina

Tropical member
#5
Hey New Tyer1

Thanks for the information! I just checked their website and remember this family owned business... What caught my eyes are those whole rooster pelt... very interesting and nice! http://www.conranch.com/specials.html

I do tie wetflies and streamers also, I am really interested to have one. I wonder do you have any experience with those hackle? Thanks!

Mark
 

Big E

Active Member
#6
Hey New Tyer1

Thanks for the information! I just checked their website and remember this family owned business... What caught my eyes are those whole rooster pelt... very interesting and nice! http://www.conranch.com/specials.html

I do tie wetflies and streamers also, I am really interested to have one. I wonder do you have any experience with those hackle? Thanks!

Mark
I'll vouch for the quality of Conranch, great stuff. Denny is retiring soon and is tranferring his flock to someone else. He is selling off his inventory and may not have the colors or grade of what you want. The specials on that page were gone soon after they were posted (couple years ago) and it was just left there for pics of interest. He is a small time outfit so there is sometimes a wait for what you wanted and it is best to call or email him to discuss what you want.

The new breeder plans to continue selling capes and saddles just as Denny did but it may be awhile before the new website is up and they are cranking them out.
 
#8
I have spoken to Denny on a number of occasions and he is a really great guy but, I was given a bunch of materials from an old farmer friend of mine and don't think I will have to any hackles or turkey biots for the rest of my tying career and there is more yet to come. You can't go wrong with him though, top grade stuff all around
 
#9
Hey Guys...

Also I heard there are NO difference in hackle quality between grades... the difference is total numbers each pelt can tie... is this true?

Thanks in advance!

Mark
Not true.

Hackles are an agricultural product, and agricultural products whether beef or feathers need to be graded.

Tell who ever told you that to look at siblings in a large family. They have the same mother and father but each will have different physical attributes.

Pro quality hackles are the pelts that do not meet the standard for bronze.
 

yuhina

Tropical member
#10
Thanks everyone's contribution...

I just did a little bit research about the genetic hackle and found a very interesting history about the hackle bloodlines ... really a nice read from the cgtu.org http://cgtu.org/
see line below... (thought you might be interested to see this... and if you have a bit extra more history... I will be all eared! )

http://cgtu.org/documents/publications/genetic_hackle.pdf

The most important genetic work of the early period of hackle raising in the United States came from Catskill fly tier - Harry Darbee, who produced the best available stock of the day. Though others in both the United States and England had been experimenting with raising birds for their hackle, his efforts in the 1940s and 50s built the foundation for much of the commercial hackle we use today. Darbee selected his stock based mainly on color, but he was also a commercial fly tier and considered factors like hackle length, barbule stiffness, and the amount of webbing. Harry Darbee started with Thompson Barred Rock roosters (an American breed), and mixed them with Old English Game, Blue Andalusians, and several other breeds. Darbee used what he called a "shotgun approach" for his breeding program, crossing a dozen different colored hens with a single duncolored rooster to produce colors like blue dun, bronze dun, rusty dun, honey dun, and many others....
 
#11
Denny Conrad has some very nice feathers. He and I have been fishing buddies for some years now. If you can get your hands on one of his full skins, let's just say I have two of them and they are so pretty I hate plucking a feather from them. I hate it, but I do it. Denny is in his 70's now and taking care of his breeding stock is a lot of work. He deserves his retirement.
 

Rob Ast

Active Member
#12
Not true.

Hackles are an agricultural product, and agricultural products whether beef or feathers need to be graded.

Tell who ever told you that to look at siblings in a large family. They have the same mother and father but each will have different physical attributes.

Pro quality hackles are the pelts that do not meet the standard for bronze.
This may be true, but in this case the item being graded is not the individual feather, but the whole pelt. A size 16 hackle from each of these pelts will be the same, but the higher graded pelt will have either longer or a greater number of the more desireable sizes - hence the different grades.
 
#13
If I understand the grading correctly, in addition to feather length and density on the skin, there are a couple other characteristics that are looked at in grading a dry fly skin: 1) the amount of secondary barbs on each lateral barb; these make a feather hydrophilic, so the fewer the better, and 2) the degree of cupping or concavity on each feather; the flatter the feather the better. Genetic breeding also has given us thinner more flexible quills, so that they wrap more easily.

It may be the Fly Tiers Benchtop Reference that has a good discussion of hackle parameters. Reading it was eye opening. My first dry-fly hackle purchases were made blind. Pick it off the rack, pay for it, go home and tie flies. After a little while I was struck by how different the feathers were on the brown and grizzly capes that I had bought at the same time and paid the same price for.

Now I always pull capes/saddles from their package and carefully examine the skins, the feather density, and individual feathers. Grading at the manufacturer is, no doubt, a pretty quick and dirty affair, and I've been rewarded by finding a few very nice skins that were undergraded. I talked with a fly shop owner a number of years ago who told me that he personally assesses every skin they get into their shop and pulls the undergraded ones to either use for himself or to sell to shop employees and friends. He suggested that most shops do this, so that it will be uncommon to find undergraded skins for sale. Somehow, I don't think all shops do this, however, and I've found some bargains in local shops here in the Seattle area.

D
 

yuhina

Tropical member
#14
If I understand the grading correctly, in addition to feather length and density on the skin, there are a couple other characteristics that are looked at in grading a dry fly skin: 1) the amount of secondary barbs on each lateral barb; these make a feather hydrophilic, so the fewer the better, and 2) the degree of cupping or concavity on each feather; the flatter the feather the better. Genetic breeding also has given us thinner more flexible quills, so that they wrap more easily.

It may be the Fly Tiers Benchtop Reference that has a good discussion of hackle parameters. Reading it was eye opening. My first dry-fly hackle purchases were made blind. Pick it off the rack, pay for it, go home and tie flies. After a little while I was struck by how different the feathers were on the brown and grizzly capes that I had bought at the same time and paid the same price for.

Now I always pull capes/saddles from their package and carefully examine the skins, the feather density, and individual feathers. Grading at the manufacturer is, no doubt, a pretty quick and dirty affair, and I've been rewarded by finding a few very nice skins that were undergraded. I talked with a fly shop owner a number of years ago who told me that he personally assesses every skin they get into their shop and pulls the undergraded ones to either use for himself or to sell to shop employees and friends. He suggested that most shops do this, so that it will be uncommon to find undergraded skins for sale. Somehow, I don't think all shops do this, however, and I've found some bargains in local shops here in the Seattle area.

D
Richard,

I agree , always inspect the pelt before purchase!

But I am not sure if whiting farm use that many characters for grading...
I thought they use that detailed characters only for breeding program...
 
#15
Richard,

I agree , always inspect the pelt before purchase!

But I am not sure if whiting farm use that many characters for grading...
I thought they use that detailed characters only for breeding program...
Hm-m-m-m-m, if they are breeding for those traits, why wouldn't they grade for them, as well, when pricing their products?

D