I need Hackle!

Information and tips for tyers, as well as information on hatches.
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I need Hackle!

Post by jedwuuba » Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:52 am

Where does everyone get their hackle?

I have a big Whiting's variety pack, but I need some smaller and better stuff for Midge, BWO, Caddis, Adams, etc.

I don't know much about purchasing hackle; I'm mostly concerned with finding a good deal and making sure I have the right stuff. Considering the stuff isn't cheap, I would like to get by without having to spend too much unless necessary.

What are the most common sizes and colors that everyone is using?

Also, what size for soft hackle wet flies?
Cast. Catch. Release. Repeat.

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Post by Perry » Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:43 am

You can find good hackle on a budget, but you have to be patient and watch for good deals. I bought a lot of hackle when fly shops were moving or going out of business. Sometimes fishing clubs have swap meets, or silent auctions associated with their banquets. Are you going to the Great Waters Expo at the end of next month? Each year there has been a feather merchant there with lots of stuff at decent prices.

I've gotten a lot of soft hackle from ruffed grouse, sharptails, and woodcock which are legal game birds. I've bought chickens from farmers and skinned and dried the capes and saddles. We have some hens of many colors, which are mainly kept for the eggs, but they moult more soft hackles that I'll use in a lifetime. We had two roosters in this group of chickens; they were delicious, and their capes have kept me in red and buff soft hackles for the winter tying season.

I'm pretty particular about my hackle, and while the easy way is to buy it online, I will never buy hackle without seeing it first. The product of a live animal is just too variable to know what you're getting until you see it.

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Post by ted4887 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:42 am

Go to eBay and find yourself a Whiting Introductory pack. They come with 4 half capes, and you'll get hundreds and hundreds of flies out them. I'd find one that has grizzly, brown, medium dun, and black (or an extra grizzly).

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Post by jrs » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:23 am

Hackle is expensive and there's just not a way around that. I've always bought capes (or half capes), but a lot of guys like the Whiting 100 packs (enough hackle in a single size and color to tie 100 flies for about $20). In any case, you're going to want mostly smaller sizes 14-20. The hatches around here are mostly smaller and smaller flies tend to get beat up faster. One thing you can do to save some money is buy fewer colors. Three or four colors, like Ted suggested will cover your needs really well. In fact, you could probably get by pretty well with just grizzly in a good range of sizes. I would definitely focus on a range of sizes more than range of colors if you have a budget constraint.

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Post by BlackDog » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:49 pm

Consider using CDC instead of regular hackle. It's a lot cheaper and it's easy to tie with. I've got a lot of dry fly hackle and I honestly don't use it that much any more.

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Post by D.A. » Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:28 pm

Cdc is neat stuff, but the only downside is keeping it buyoant, espcially once the fish have slimed it up a bit. Get some grizzly medium blue dun, some brown, and some ginger, and you should be set. I echo the 100 pack suggestion. Most of what I tie doesn't call for a great deal of larger hackle.
You're a daisy if you do.

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Post by BlackDog » Tue Feb 19, 2013 9:06 am

D.A. wrote:Cdc is neat stuff, but the only downside is keeping it buyoant, espcially once the fish have slimed it up a bit.
True that, but dessicant like Frog's Fanny works really well. Rinse the slimed fly in water, apply dessicant, dry, and you're good to go. Just trying to give Jed some lower cost options to get thim started. However, a couple packs of 100's in the main colors would be a good option too.

About 8 years ago the GM's up here in the Cities cleared out their Whiting hackle for something like $3 for a 100 pack, and I bought a lot. And as Perry mentioned the hackle sellers at the Expo have great prices too, and I bought a couple 1/4 saddles there. Overall, I probably have more than I'll ever use. But what fly tyer doesn't? ;)

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Post by BlackDog » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:23 am

If you get a 100 pack, or use saddle feathers, you'll also need some sort of tailing material. I'd be interested to hear from others what they use for tailing.

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Post by brntrout » Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:53 pm

For dry fly tailing I use Ultra/Micro-fibbets, they come in a wide ranges of good usable colors and they are indestructible. They also work extremely well for may fly type nymph's. I use them a lot for baetis type nymph's and PT nymph tailing. If you use them for nymph tails, you never have worry about nymph tails being GONE after the first fish caught ever again. I like tying flies that are durable and stay in the same condition as they were originally tied as long as possible. Micro/ultra- fibbets are a fly tying material that helps fills the bill quite nicely.

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Post by Troutchaser » Fri Feb 22, 2013 7:39 pm

Jedwubba, if you haven't sourced your hackle yet, JS Stockard offers A) 4 half capes, or
B) 2 half capes and 2 half saddles, or
C) 4 half saddles.......................at $65.95 for your choice.
These are Whiting hackles for this price.
Their web site is JSFlyfishing.com, and you could order a catalog, but for now you could just use code 2013CAT5 to save $5 off your first order.
They are just one source out there...but reliable. Feather-Craft in Missouri is also good to work with.

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