What makes a hackle a good hackle? By that I mean,
what is the right size and shape of a good hackle
feather for fly tying? If you don't exactly know
the answer to that question, you're not alone. The
answer depends on what you want to tie and how the
hackle is going to be used.
First you need to ask yourself is what you want to tie.
Are you tying an Adams? What size is your fly going to
be? It might surprise you to discover that many of the
hackle growers concentrate most of their genetic efforts
on sizes most of us rarely use or need. The trick here
is how they convince us that their "popular sizes" are
just what we need.
I sell thousands of dozens of flies where I work in the
span of one summer. The most popular dry fly size is 14
followed by 16. It doesn't matter a lot what the
pattern is; most of our dry fly sales are in those two
sizes. In fact, my size 14 sales exceed the combined
sales of all the other sizes except 16. I closely watch
this trend to insure that I order the right flies for the
coming year. It works well, and I rarely have a huge
mess of flies in the wrong sizes, to carry over to the
So, why do the two best known, major hackle growers try
so hard to sell us hackles that tie sizes 18 and 20? Sure,
I tie a lot of small sizes and so do others, but I also tie
a lot of flies in the 14 and 16 sizes. That being the case,
why do I need that $150 micro, super duper, dry fly saddle
that ties sizes 18 and 20 with ease? Actually, I don't.
For the last few months, I've been tying a few flies with
necks and saddles from Conranch. I'm quite impressed.
I haven't found a hackle feather that wraps easier than the
feathers off their necks and saddles. The necks have hackles
small enough to tie flies I can't see with my over-forty eyes
anymore. The saddles are just right for size 14 dries, so
I'll get to use them up fast. Ok, relatively fast; I haven't
had a lot of time at the vise recently, but that will change
in the months ahead.
This isn't a product review; that will come a little later.
However, if you are looking for that perfect neck or saddle
for Christmas, you need to click on Conranch from the
sponsor's page. Be sure to
describe the color and size you need. Dennis is a fly tier,
so he will be able to select the perfect saddle or neck to
suit your needs.
This isn't an advertisement either. It's just a tip from a
fly tier to you. As usual, if I find something that works
well, you'll be the first to hear about it. ~ AC