Golden Pheasant Crest question [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Golden Pheasant Crest question

05-27-2004, 03:25 PM
So last night I was tying my bastardized version of a spey fly and had a Red Golden pheasant crest as a tail and wanted to put on on the head that went right back to the tip of the tail. I had a problems getting it to lay straight to the back without twisting or laying to one side. Any tips? I am sure some of it is just practice which I don't mind doing just thought I'd ask though.


05-27-2004, 06:28 PM

If I read your question correctly, you are talking about how one puts a G.P. crest feather (called a topping in the old atlantic salmon books and by the majority of modern-day featherwing tyers) over the top of the wing.

To tie a G.P. crest feather on as a topping and not have it twisted off to one side or the other is actually very easy once it is done properly. This is how to do it:

1) The first thing you need do with the crest feather is choose one that is the proper length. The length of the crest feather should have the tip of the crest hit or land just a wee bit in front of the tip of the tail and end where the fluff on the feather's butt begins when looking at the feather from the tip. If you use a feather that is longer than this, it will almost always twist and it is very difficult to get it to lie straight. That is why choosing the correct length crest feather is so important.

2) You must flatten the stem of the feather where it is going to be tied in by squeezing it with a pair of small, smooth-jawed, needle-nosed pliers. If the stem is not flattened, the crest feather will roll under thread pressure when tied in and it will be "twisted" to one side or the other.

3) After the crest feather stem is flattened and before you release the pressure from the smooth-jawed pliers used to flatten it, bend the crest feather up to put a "kink" in the feather stem so the feather is at an upward angle.

4) Tie the crest feather in so the first turn of thread is right on the "kink" you put in the feather in the last step. If you have any thread wraps move back toward the wing so the "kink" is covered (even in the slightest), the crest feather will be pushed down onto the wing instead of following the wing's curvature and this will cause the crest feather to hit the hook instead of the tip of the tail.

5) After making 3 to 5 thread wraps over the crest feather's butt toward the hook eye (don't use more than 5 turns of thread unless you want to have a large head or have the topping distort by moving upward from the topping pivotting from the thread pressure on the feather butt).

6) Check the crest feather to make sure it is lying straight over the top of the fly and adjust it to one side or the other by very carefully nudging the stem under the thread wraps with your thumb nail (side closest to you if cocked to the left and side away from you if cocked to the right). DO NOT DISTRUB THE FEATHER'S FORE AND AFT POSITION IF YOU NEED TO ADJUST FOR STRAIGHTNESS.

7) Hold on to the crest feather and wing with the thnumb and forefinger of your left hand, then cut the butt off close to the last thread wrap (remember you only use 3 to 5 thread wraps). If you don't hold the wing and crest feather in place, the wing and topping will twist to one side of the other when the butt it trimmed.

8) Cover the feather's butt with flattened thread wraps, wrap the thread back so it is one wrap in front of where the "kink" is, put thin or medium viscosity cement on the thread wraps, and whip finish over the cemented wraps before they dry. the cementing is what holds everything together and allows a smaller head with good fly durability.

Hope this helps all who are working on putting a topping on a fly.

05-28-2004, 10:48 AM
This is great stuff, Flytyer, keep the "instructions" coming!

05-29-2004, 08:13 AM
As usual, Flytyer has nailed it - I would like to add one other thought: when viewed from the side all crests have a nice curve, however when viewed from above the crest should be straight - not all are straight in this plain & if the one you select isn't then it will not lie straight on top of the wing. While one can try steaming or wetting with saliva and leaving to dry inside a wine glass in my experience it is probibaly easier to discard the "crooked" crest and find a straight one.

05-29-2004, 03:49 PM

Thanks for including the info about needing to use a crest feather that is straight to begin with. I toss out at least 1/2 of the feathers on a G.P. crest because I have learned from experience (sounds like you have too) that if a crest feather is not straight from butt to tip to begin with, it will not stay straight when put on a fly.