Choice of hackle feathers ? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Choice of hackle feathers ?

07-25-2004, 12:49 PM
Recently I have been playing around with my choice of feathers for collars on wet flies. I have tried everything from chinese necks, rooster / capon necks, and more recently soft hen necks.

I'm curious what other people find to be there preference. I'm also curious if you find it depends on conditions. I tie a size 2 variation of the Polar Shrimp with very soft webby hackle that kills in Nov and Dec on bigger Lake Ontario tribs, but when I tie it with a chinese neck or similair hackle it doesn't seem as effective.

On the other hand when I have fished summer run out west I have tended towards a thinner hackle with less web.

I'm curious what others feelings are.


07-25-2004, 05:37 PM
Basically, these days, it is best found on common, ordinary barnyard chickens, NOT the genetic stuff. Check a few chicken farmers in your area.


07-25-2004, 06:15 PM
Can't say I use one collar feather, it really depends on the fly.

Guinea fowl, wood duck, mallard flank, gadwall, teal, they all get the nod sometimes. Standard hackles - furnace, dyed all types. Even marabou collars on some flies. On buggy nymphs nothing beats partridge.

I am not a big fan of shlappen. I don't use it at all, too webby and it sticks together without the pleasing curved form I strive for with my steelhead fly hackles.

07-26-2004, 01:28 AM
Chinese Rooster necks, Whiting American Hackle rooster neck, and Spencer's Hackle lowest grade rooster hackle are the way to go for most salmon or steelhead flies. The Whiting American Hackle rooster neck is the nicest large, small stem, with some web hackle I've ever used for salmon and steelhead flies. They are genetic hackle specifically bred for wet fly, streamer, salmon, and steelhead flies. They run around $20.00/neck.

Metz, Hoffman, Spencer's, and Keough hen necks (saddles too on flies larger than #6) are very nice for salmon/steelhead spiders and flies like Bob Arnold's Spade, the Burlap, or the Brindle Bug. The hen hackle is really soft so it comes into its own in slower water.

Schlappen is way too limp and webby along with fibers that are too long for anything other than spey hackle on spey and dee flies. If it is prepared properly, it does not clump together, instead it fans out and separates. Schlappen is prepared by stripping the left side of the feather (this is the left side when holding the feather with the shiny or convex side up) and then using your thumb nail pressed into your 2nd finger's pad to stroke the feather fibers and break down the barbs that hold the fibers together before it is tied in. The feather is then tied in by the butt and wound foward next to the ribbing.

Whiting Spey Hackle (whether necks or saddles) is a superb genetic feather that Whiting developed for spey and dee flies. They run from $15.00 to $30.00, which is a lot lower than my favorite spey feather, the blue-eared pheasant that runs $150.00 to $225.00 per skin.

Good marabou is also used as a hackle when tying marabou spiders.

07-26-2004, 07:31 AM
you mentioned the whiting american hackle rooster neck. Have you tried the whting american hen neck or does that strike you as being to soft for a collar on a steelhead fly ?


07-26-2004, 03:33 PM

The Whiting American hen neck and sadddle is fine for slower water. I didn't mention it separately because it is just like the other hen neck and saddle (with the exception of Whiting's Hen Spey Hackle) is quality and use.