Hackle Tip Spey Wings [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Hackle Tip Spey Wings

10-05-2004, 11:34 AM
I have been experimenting with different sources of feathers for hackle tip wings. Curious what types of feathers people have had success with. I have tried everything from small feathers on chinese necks to narrow saddle hackle.


10-05-2004, 12:06 PM
I like the whiting american necks in silver grade. They are the nicest and most uniform you can get. Flytyer turned me onto to them, they rock.


robert l.
10-05-2004, 12:18 PM
I use a lot the feathers of a gold pheasant (chest)

Robert l.

10-05-2004, 01:19 PM
Are you using the hen necks or the rooster capes


10-05-2004, 01:41 PM
The rooster capes. The hens are not the right shape and too webby for a hackle tip wing.


10-05-2004, 02:25 PM
Like Sean said, "I like the Whiting American necks...."

I've been using the Whiting American Rooster Necks since they became available about 4 years ago. They have a huge range of hackle sizes, have nice small stems while still having some substance to them (unlike rooster saddle, which has a stem that is a bit too soft for hackle tip spey wings), are of uniform shape, have a lot of hackle of each size, and are fairly cheap too boot! Personally, I don't care if I get Silver grade (about $30.00/neck) or Bronze grade (about $20.00/neck). The only real difference between the two grades is the size range of the hackle, and the number of feathers of a given size. The difference is not all that much though and not worth worrying about.

Hen hackle is too webby and has a feather that is too wide and soft for good hackle tip spey wings. Chinese rooster neck used to be a great value; however, since the bird fly epidemic hit Asia, Chinese necks are not large enough. This is because they are from imiture birds unlike the past when Chinese necks were from birds that were 2 or 3 years old.

At any rate, when tying hackle feather spey wings, make sure you tent them slightly (Bob Veverka shows this very well in his book on spey flies) and not tie them as knife point sail wings. You should cant the far wing in toward you as you tie it in and then cant the near wing away from you slighly when it is tied in. This causes the wings to lie close to the body and makes the wing a less prominent part of the fly. If you take a close look at a picture of a Glasso tied spey, you will see the wings have this slight tenting. And if you ever get a chance to see a Glasso tied or Veverka tied Glasso spey in person, you will readily see the tenting. Yes, it takes a little longer to tie the wings in with this slight tenting; but the results are worth it.

The use of golden Pheasant body or breast feathers for spey wings goes back a lot of years. Syd Glasso used G.P. breast feathers on his Dark Sol Duc (which he didn't tie as a true spey, he tied is more as a modern feather wing, classic and kept the hackle inside the hook point). Walt Johnson used G.P. breast feathers for the wing on his Deep Purple Spey, which he first tied back in the early 1970's. Be aware that G.P. breast or saddle feather (natural or dyed) wings behave and look very different from rooster neck feather wings on a spey fly.

I also use G.P. breast and dyed G.P. saddle feathers for wings on spey flies in the fashion of Don Kaas of Port Angeles, WA (he was taught how to tie spey flies by Glasso), who would be in his late 70's now if he is still alive. Don showed me that tying 2 dyed G.P. saddle feathers flat over the body (like the wings are tied on the General Practioner) with a very few (3 or 4) strands of matching or complimentary Krystal Flash tied under them produces a very nice and effective spey fly.

Stu Farnham
10-05-2004, 09:15 PM
I tie a lot of these flies in sizes 1/0 and down, and use dyed over white Ewing deceiver patches.