Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hackle Organization

Here is a real time saving tip for any of you who tie a lot of hackled dry flies. Can't remember the specific book that I got the idea from, but I'm sure it was from A.K. Best. The basic idea here is to pre-separate hackle feathers by size and color so when it is time to tie flies it is one less step to slow you down.

Step 1: First step is to buy a nice cape of hackle. Expensive capes offer a great range of sizes, usually #10 - 24! If you only need a few sizes and colors you should buy saddle hackle that is packaged in specific sizes, and then you can stop reading as they are separated for you!

Step 2: Get a hackle gage and a piece of paper with some sizes drawn on it. Bend the cape and start cutting. Try to cut low on the feather stem and also from all parts of the cape to get a variety of sizes. You can also skin the whole cape at this step.

Step 3: Measure every single hackle feather and place in appropriate section. Make sure you measure the middle of the feather as there will be a small variance in size at both ends of the feather. This variance increases with cheaper hackle so take your time measuring if you have a low quality cape.

Step 4: Place the measured hackles in a marked package. I use cut envelopes because they are cheap, just the right size, and you can easily write on them.

Step 5: Repeat with all your colors.

Pre-separating your hackle will help you tie multiple flies much faster, and it will ensure your patterns are consistent. Enjoy, and have a great winter tying season!

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