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Thread: Soft hackle question

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  1. #1
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    Default Soft hackle question

    I have started tying soft hackle flies, and other than partridge for the hackles, Dave Hughes' book recommends looking at hen necks. I did, and the price--if they are available at all--is a glass of ice water in the face. How about India Hen saddles? I have a pack, and they look about right. They also come in various dyed colors. What do you think?
    Thanks for sharing your opinions,
    GGH

  2. #2
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    Actually, I find India Hens necks to be the best for soft hackles even over partridge, mainly because the stem is thinner and easier to wrap around the hook. You can get some terrific colors that me beautiful soft hackles which are one of my favorite flies to tie and to fish.

    Jim Smith

  3. #3
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    Default

    Starling - woodcock.

  4. #4
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    I have used starlin, quail, woodcock, hen back, hen neck and partridge. All of them will work fine.
    Warren
    Fly fishing and fly tying are two things that I do, and when I am doing them, they are the only 2 things I think about. They clear my mind.

  5. #5

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    Try to stay away from pre packaged feathers. Try to buy whole skins. The pre packages have a lot useless feathers.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ggh View Post
    Dave Hughes' book recommends looking at hen necks. I did, and the price--if they are available at all--is a glass of ice water in the face.GGH
    ??? Collins hen sets (neck + back) are about $15. That's about half of what a partridge skin is going for in most places now. Compared to dry fly hackle, hen is practically given away.
    Bob

  7. #7
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    If you know anyone who shoots game birds just about any will do. If you offer to skin the birds and oven prep them you'll get the skin for nothing most of the time. By far my favourite is Golden Plover, but that is hard to get and expensive.

    Something I don't understand is these flies have been called "spiders" or "North Country Flies" for over 400 years. Why the sudden name change?

    Cheers,
    C.
    "Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical
    minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which
    holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a ****
    by the clean end"

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanB View Post
    Something I don't understand is these flies have been called "spiders" or "North Country Flies" for over 400 years. Why the sudden name change? Cheers, C.
    Some of us are afraid of spiders, truthfully I have seen spider patters and thought they were different than soft hackles. Most seemed to have reverse hackle on them.
    It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled. Mark Twain

  9. #9
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    Definitely a difference between a soft hackle and a spider. I think what we call a soft hackle, W.C. Stewart called a "fly." The spider was tied so the "legs" would go every which way. There is also question as to whether the spider was palmered over the front 1/2 to 1/3 of the hook.

    (Not to mention that a spider in the U.S. is a dry fly).

    From the Practical Angler:

    Dressing a spider is a much simpler operation than dressing a fly, and therefore it is better to begin with it.

    This done, take the feather, and laying it on with the root end towards the bend of the hook, wrap the silk three or four times round it, and then cut off the root end.

    What remains to be done is the most critical part of the whole operation: still holding the hook between the forefinger and thumb of your left hand, take the thread, lay it along the centre of the inside of the feather, and with the forefinger and thumb of your right hand twirl them round together till the feather is rolled round the thread; and in this state wrap it round the hook, taking care that a sufficient number of the fibres stick out to represent the legs ; to effect this it will sometimes be necessary to raise the fibres with a needle during the operation.

    Having carried the feather and thread down to where you commenced, wrap the silk three or four times round the end of the feather, and if there is any left cut it off, and finish with a succession of hitch-knots, or the common whip-fastening. If the legs of the spider when dressed are too long, there is no remedy for it; cutting injures rather than improves them.

    This is a very rough and simple mode of dressing a spider, and does not make it so neat as if the feather were put on by a pair of nippers, but it is more natural-looking, and much more durable, as the feather is fastened on by the thread the whole way down.[/B]

    In dressing a fly, commence in the same manner as in dressing a spider, carrying the thread up to within three or four turns of the end of the shank; then take the feather, of which you are to form the wings, firmly between the forefinger and thumb of your right hand, lay it to the bare end of the shank, whip the thread firmly round it two or three times, and then cut off the root end of the feather as close as possible.


    [/B]

  10. #10

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    AllanB I think it comes from both Dave Hughs and Allen McGee's books, While both are great books and they do include North Country flies most of the rhetoric is about heavy bodied flies. Not the simple flies tyed with game hackle, a slight dusting of dubbing and silk. Whenever I talk I about s/h's I try to differentiate between NC flies and others. Leisuring and Hidy also called their flies as wet flies and soft hackles and later Hidy named flies flymphs to indicate a different type of fly.

    Many of the new tyers and writers are not familiar with N.C. flies and their great history.

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