Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Soft hackle feathers part one...mottled

In the craft of tying soft hackle flies one of the alternative types of feathers to use is the game bird. And in the selection of these feathers are the feathers that have a mottled effect which give what I believe  that added life look. The photo above shows several types of feathers from different game birds. The top left shows the woodcock. It's soft brown color and super natural movement in water make it one of the best feather choices for soft hackle flies.  The feathers right below are those of a Grouse. These feathers are a deep brown to almost red. The feathers at top right are partridge. You can see distinct colors in the feathers which were all taken from the same bird. There a dark and light feathers. The partridge is probably the best know feather used in soft hackle patterns. Below are a few soft hackle flies tied with the various feathers above. They all feature a orange silk thread body with natural hare dubbing.

 

 

The Orange and Woodcock
 

The Grouse and Orange
 

The Partridge and Orange using a gray shoulder feather.
 

The Partridge and Orange using a brown feather from the back of the bird.
 

 

23 comments:

  1. Classics all Alan and beautifully tied. Have you ever tried a Red Clock spider? The old English classic is tied with a Pheasant neck feather, orange silk and peacock. It's on the large side for a spider due to the Pheasant hackle but the #12's have been very effective for me recently.

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    Replies
    1. Dean F
      Thanks
      Dean I have not tied this fly. I assume the feather is from a male pheasant. I like using hen pheasant in several of my soft hackles. As far as large sizes I think they have a place in everyone's fly box.
      I'll tie one up so look for it...

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  2. Replies
    1. billp
      Thanks
      Bill great flies, and small stream killers.

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  3. Alan,
    Absolutely beautiful, I can hear the sound of running water just looking at them.
    Stay safe, John

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    Replies
    1. The Two Terriers
      Thanks
      Yes sir John....I have seen some of those pike you tangle with and they are awesome.

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  4. I have grouse coming out my ears; it's been a helluva' season. I wish we had more woodcock, they're so scarce up here these days that I don't shoot them anymore. I could be perfectly happy just using those two feathers. I'd be even happier if my flies came out as nice as yours.

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    Replies
    1. mike
      Thanks
      Mike woodcock here are also sparse. I had a reader send me a mess of woodcock wings and they were gorgeous. With the two birds, grouse and woodcock you could have all you need.

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  5. Alan,
    A perfect presentation above of your skill at the vice! Your samples above are perfect examples of how a soft-hackle should look (at least in my eyes!)! You also have an incredible knack for picking the right hackles (size too!) to get the job done! Your work is clean and crisp and is, simply stated, just right! I like the partridge hackles in the upper right of your photo! When they are all together like this, it is easy to see the differences in color and tone! My favorite? The "dark" ones! Their markings are so fine and beautiful! There is never enough of them on a pelt!
    We can't wait to see part 2 and 3 and 4 and beyond! Keep them coming friend!
    Dougsden

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    Replies
    1. Dougsden
      Thanks
      Wow all that coming from a master fly tyer himself. I like the distinct lines in the partridge feather. Other game bird feathers do not show that. Part two will include various chicken feathers as well as quail.

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  6. Also, I like your very sparse dubbing's at the shoulder of each pattern! I am the chief culprit of too much dubbing at this point! Your dubbings are just right and do not take over or captivate the overall look of the fly! Very well done!

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    Replies
    1. Doug I try my best to keep it sparse. It's not always the case though. But even the heavily dubbed ones still work.

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  7. Hi Alan,

    You can't beat the simple beauty of a North Country Spider and those are 'Top of the Pops'!

    There is something about the barring on the hackle from a game bird which just shouts life. My favourite is Golden Plover, unfortunately I have never had chance to tie with it (yet!). Looking forward to a post onn solid colours soon.

    Take care and stay safe

    Alistair

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    Replies
    1. Alistair
      Thanks
      Alistair those hard to come by feathers will be just a thought for me. I hope you manage to get some.

      Delete
  8. Alan
    Outstanding work at the vice and ready for testing. Thanks for sharing

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    Replies
    1. Bill Trussell
      Thanks
      Bill they have been tested over the years and the results are two thumbs up.

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  9. One of my favorite flies is a bit overtied but I like it like that; on a size ten gamakatsu octopus hook I wrap about ten fibers of black gallus gallus rooster tail behind a ruby red clear glass seed bead, finished with a soft hackle. The partridge and pheasant soft hackle are my go to, but I would love to try out that woodcock!

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    Replies
    1. Nathan Camp
      Thanks
      Nate I think you gave me one of those flies. Woodcock is a great feather for soft hackles...such movement. What's the little angler like for flies?

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    2. Orange, orange and orange.

      If it doesn't scream orange she won't touch it. (It IS her favorite color)
      That being said she will swing towards wool wraps as being "comfy"

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    3. Nate I would have thought pink.
      Orange is a very good choice as you and i know.

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