Hackling a Fore and Aft Fly Pattern
Ever since reading an older book by a tier I admire, I have been tying my fore and aft style flies with a shorter hackle aft than that in the front. The author I refer to made a point to reference the 3 point float line (at least on those tied with a tail).
Anyway, I wonder if this is a minority view?
I tied these "not so good looking" generic flies to compare the fly tied with shorter aft hackle v. one tied with equal length hackle fore and aft.
The fly on the left has the shorter aft hackle.
Let me know.
Talking with the shop owner who I tie a regular order of these for he says that they always loose the rear hackle first. To help with this he wants a small tag of tying thread behind the rear hackle, with a spot of head cement on it. This, he says, gives the hackle a little protection. If you find the same it may be an idea to try it.
I can see the logic in a smaller rear hackle if a tail is included. As his don't have, I use the same feather for both. The few I have tied for my own use have the same small / large hackle arrangement. It is however, only a half size smaller or less, just as in your example. Though these days I tend not to carry this style of fly. For me there is no noticeable advantage over a palmered fly, which I can tie much faster. This is a factor as my fly boxes are never full! Its a case of the cobblers kids being the worst shod!
I go back and forth on this in my own tying. Even with tailess ones (e.g. a Renegade) I'll often put a slightly smaller hackle in the back. I don't think it's a minority opinion; I've seen it recommended in too many "recipes". My own take on it is that it's not so much for "three point" floatation (which I think is BS anyway) but with a shorter hackle in back it's easier to hook fish. Yours are faily sparse compared to some I tie, and that rear hackle sometimes seem to prevent hookups.
Alan - I always include the tag on a Renegade for much the same reason you use thread there.
Bob, I always put the tag on Renegades and others, but more for attraction than fly longevity. I have not had problems losing the aft hackle.
As to the "minority view", most of the fore and aft flies I see when googling them are tied with the same hackle feather - much as AlanB mentions he ties commercially.
I just googled "fore and aft fly pattern" and clicked on "images" in the results. It looks to be roughly 50/50 about the smaller rear hackle (of those images which were actually of fore and aft flies. It doesn't seem to matter whether the pattern has a tail or not.
I can certainly conceive of using the same hackle for both parts and having the back smaller -- tie in by the tip at the rear, wrap, put down a body over the middle of the stem, and wrap the front. Not that I would do it that way, but it could be done, and probably has been.
I think the fly looks better with equal size hackles.
Seems like it would depend on what you were trying to achieve with the fly. The shorter rear hackle would make the fly sit lower on the water more like a freshly hatched dun. However, the longer rear hackle would make a better fly for skating like an egg laying caddis.