schlappen in dark dun (like blue heron) [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: schlappen in dark dun (like blue heron)

07-20-2003, 01:30 PM
Does anyone know a source for schlappen dyed to resemble blue heron color? dark dun with a touch of blue..

07-23-2003, 12:43 AM
49 views and no public input. I think this qualified as an "open niche" for those good with RIT and interested in a few bucks

07-23-2003, 05:12 AM
I am of the non-schlappen spey hackle camp. It's too webby and 'sticky' for my tastes. Blue eared pheasant is naturally a dun-nish color and makes a very close approximation of the real thing. It also comes dyed in various colors. Another hackle I like is the burnt goose, which has a thick stem and brittle barbs but for some reason I've caught a lot of steelhead on flies tied with these feathers. You have to pick thru them to select them on the supple side with a thinner stem. These come in a broad range of colors.

For smaller spey flies, I use dyed mallard flank feathers stripped on one side. They also come in a wide range of colors, are cheap, and work fantastic. In fact of all the speys I fish the most effective have been small summer speys hackled with dyed mallard - the BEP is too large for these little swingers. I like the black, purple, woodduck, olive, and sedge orange colors - mallard is inexpensive and dyed in tons of colors.

BEP is best but has a very high price tag and is harder to find in the proper sizes and colors.


07-23-2003, 07:09 AM
The last two times I went to order BEP the supplier was out - no back orders. BEP must be under pressure for some reason. I like the Mallard solution but the whole problem raises the question of whether getting into dying feathers is a reasonable alternative. I don't know of anyone that does it routinely but I have heard it extolled as the entry way to a whole new world of tying.
The other thing that I have experimented with a little bit of success is steaming feathers for winding spey style patterns. Probably a cheap alternative to some other approaches but I haven't used the flies tied extensively - no feedback on durability.

07-23-2003, 01:19 PM
Without getting into the subject of when to use very soft materials like schlappen...

Plain old Rit black, by itself, will get you very close to what you want. Leave it in the dye until you get the darkness you desire.

Years ago I read a piece by a famous fly tier--perhaps Polly Rosborough?--that to get a true black with Rit you needed to add some Rit brown to the black. It's true. With plain Rit black you get a bluish cast--a pretty nice dun.

I haven't tried dying schlappen, but this approach has worked very well with dry fly hackle.


07-23-2003, 10:26 PM
I always end up burning the stuff to get rid of some web/cling. That fades the dyed color:(
If you plan to do some home dying, it might pay to burn the feathers first, & then dye.
Just my $0.02

07-23-2003, 11:08 PM

Rit will not get you the nice dark, blue dun you are looking for. And as you have already found out, no suppliers are providing Schlappen with the dark blue dun coloration. To get the proper color, you will have go dye white schlappen with Fly Dye's Dark Dun dye. Use vinegar in the dye bath to set the dye, and use 1/4 teaspoon of the Fly Dye dark dun dye. Heat the dye bath to about 160 degrees (about the time you start seeing some steam come off the dye bath but before it starts to form bubbles). Put the white schlappen in the dye bath and let it stay in it for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then dump it into a strainer and rinse with luke-warm water until the water runs clear. Set aside the dyed schlappen to dry and you will have a beautiful dark blue dun spey hackle.

Fly Dye is available directly from the manufacturer and the web address of the company can be found in fly fishing or fly tying magazines. An once of the dye sells for about $7.00 and an once will dye about 2 pounds of schlappen.

07-24-2003, 12:43 AM
I had a question for you. Is the "spey feathers" they have out there (like Deke Meyer) burned goose. I had used some before I got a line on BEP. But was curious what feathers they were. Then, in one of my catalogs, they had "burnt goose spey feathers" and look identicle to the Deke Meyer and other misc companies out there selling these "spey feathers". One in the same??? Just curious.

07-24-2003, 01:37 AM

I deferred for awhile to flytyer's greater experience and fly tying skill. But, being contrary, and being a decent fly tyer myself, I had to test out the Rit on the Schlappen...

I was quite happy with the results. I just used Black Rit, with medium-hot water, left it in for quite awhile--I'll admit I'm not scientific about this--and fixed it with a bit of white vinegar at the end. I obtained a dark, attractive dun. You can get it darker or lighter, obviously, by adjusting the time in the dye bath.

So, while I believe based on fly tyer's suggestion that you could get a nicer color with Fly Dye's Dark Dun, I stand by my earlier opinion. You might be totally satisfied using Rit black.


07-24-2003, 12:14 PM
Do you guys have dedicated pots to do your dying in? I can only imagine the hell that would break loose if our wives ( if we had wives) found us using the good cook ware to dye feathers.:devil:


07-25-2003, 01:56 AM

I bought some stainless steel pots at a yard/garage sale many years ago to use for dying. Before I picked these up, I used 3 pound coffee cans, which are good for 1 time use. The stainless pots are much better and the dye doesn't react with the stainless either so your colors are much "clearer and vibrant".


Your observations are correct on what are being sold as "spey feathers" by most suppliers. They are burnt goose. And you already know why I don't like burnt goose. Coche feathers (rooster tail) is what the original spey feather was (this information can be found in Knox's "Autumns on the Spey", and Kelson's "Salmon Fly") and they are far superior to burnt goose.


You are right about being able to get a fairly acceptable dun coloration with RIT black in either a weak dye bath or with cooler than normal temperature dye bath (as you indicate you have done); however, it has a hint of purple in the coloration that I find unacceptable. The Fly Dye dark dun does not have the purple overtone present with the RIT. With the Fly Dye, you get a good, bright, dark blue dun (the same color as Bleu-eared Pheasant or natural Heron) with ease. And the cost difference between a package or bottle of RIT and an once of Fly Dye is only a couple of dollars.

Keep in mind that RIT dye is not composed of the same dye stuffs as good quality acid dyes. RIT dyes are "shop" dyes that are formulated to work on fabrics, most of which do not react favorably with acid dyes because they are commprised of celulose or a nylon derivitive. Thus you have to use half a package to get a weak dye bath, or use more time in the dye bath, or more heat. And the colors obtained with RIT are inconsistent unless the time in the dye bath is kept to within 1 minute each time.

Quality acid dyes, like Fly Dye or Jacquard) are true acid dyes that were formulated for use with animal fibers, not celulose; thus, they require only 1/4 teaspoon of dye in a dye bath to dye several onces of material. And they are not sensitive to time in the dye bath. In fact, acid dyes should be dyed to exhaustion of the dye (meaning that there is little or no dye left in the bath-the water is either clear or nearly so) and lighter shades are simply a matter of using smaller amounts of dye in the dye bath. Acid dyes are also far more colorfast than RIT because the bond with the substrate molecules (animal fur or feather) extremely well.

After having used a good acid dye for the first time some 22 years ago, I have not used RIT since except for one special purpose: that is for dying white ringneck neck feathers yellow orange prior to overdying the tips scarlet for Indian Crow substitutes. This is done by using RIT golden yellow in a strong dye bath (1 complete package for 1/8 once of feathers) and left in the dye bath until the feathers have started to turn a decided orange hue. Then the feathers are removed from the dye bath, rinsed and after the water runs clear, dipped (tips only) in a strong scarlet dye bath for 10 to 30 seconds each feather, then the feathers are given a final rinse and placed on newspaper to dry.

The quality acid dyes do the job faster, have consistent colors, are easier to use, are colorfast, and can be mixed together for different shades without worrying about the resultant shade being "off" or "weird". RIT is really a very inferior dyestuff to use for dying feathers or fur.

Yes, I know that a very well-known tyer wrote and had publised a book (a book I have in my library only because I bought it sight unseen and I was expecting better information-in other words, I would not have bought the book if I had seen it first) on using RIT for dying fly tying material. I wish he wouldn't have because it has served to muddy the waters with having solid information on the dying process interspersed with his reliance on RIT. Even A.K mentions a preference for Veniard dyes (which are acid dyes but they suffer from most of the colors being a mixture of different dyes thus most of them are very time and amout sensitive), which he calls super powerful dyes because so little is needed to get great colors.

Although I do like and use Veniards hot orange, hot pink, and kingfisher blue-the best kingfisher blue available IMO); but that the Veniards dye is not easy for him to find. It is not available at the local grocery, K-Mart, or Wal-Mart store like RIT.

07-26-2003, 10:43 AM

Thanks for the comprehensive response. Very educational, and appreciated.


07-27-2003, 05:34 AM
I echo Bill's sentiment. Very interesting and informative.

07-27-2003, 05:41 AM
What exactly is Burnt Goose? What is the process of turning a goose feather into the Burnt Goose state? This thread has been very helpful - thanks

07-28-2003, 05:22 PM

Burnt Goose is goose nashua (flank) feathers that have been burned with a weak bleach and water solution to remove some of the feather web. Most of the so-called burnt goose that is available commercially has not been burnt by the bleach and water. It is dyed white goose nashua (flank) feathers and it is left to the tyer to bleach them to make them useful.

Burnt goose makes a very nice spey feather; however, keep in mind that the stem of the goose feather is rather thick and as such is very prone to splitting as you wind the feather. To make the goose feather supple you have to soak it in water with some hair conditioner added to it. Then when dry, it remains supple and the stem doesn't split when wound.