More than a few of our "traditional" flies, particularly some of the prettiest Atlantic
Salmon ties call for the use of Jungle Cock eyes. These are made by tying a Jungle
Cock "nail" in at the head of the fly as the uppermost component.
This truly is a great finishing touch, and these patterns just are not the same without them.
The capes from which these feathers come vary greatly in price, and quality. It is not unusual
to find a better grade cape selling for $125.00 or more. A lot of money just for eyes, isn't it?
It gets even more expensive when one considers that not all of the nails, as they are removed
from the cape, are usable. Many are split, or may even have a small section missing from them.
Today's tip deals with repairing the split nails and returning them to very usable condition.
The late and famous Colonel Joseph E. Bates, who knew more than just a smidgen about Atlantic
salmon flies, used the following method.
After removing the nail from the cape, stroke it gently between the thumb and index finger. A
couple of light strokes will usually get everything going in the right direction again.
Next and this is a neat part as it actually does two very desirable things at one time, is to take a
small, even tiny brush loaded with pure orange shellac and paint the feather sparingly. Now,
again stroke the nail gently until the shellac begins to set. You will know this is happening,
as the friction will increase dramatically.
If you will take your time, this is a really great method of saving most if not all of the nails on a cape.
Oh yeah I said this technique did two things at once. The second is giving the nail a very
nice sheen, which is also quite desirable in these flies.
If you can't go for a whole cape, there are numerous outlets that will sell you pairs of nails.
These do get expensive for any volume tying. But they are very economical for smaller
quantities. These also benefit greatly from this trick, so feel free to use it on those nails as well.
At some point in the future perhaps we will show you how to repair a nail with barbules
that are actually missing, or torn.
A small can of orange shellac should be available in almost any good paint store.
If you have any tips or techniques, send them along, most of this
material has been stolen from somebody, might as well steal your ideas
too! ~ George E. Emanuel
(Chat Room Host Muddler)