Hackle guards [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Hackle guards

01-08-2006, 08:05 AM
I got a set of hackle guards as a present but can't figure out how to use them. As a good dad, I'm obligated to try, so any help would be most welcome. They are three shallow metal cones with a hole in the center and a place to hang a small weight.
I realize they are supposed to keep hackles away while finishing off the head. How do you get the hackling feather through them to tie it off, though? Or am I missing the way they are used?

01-08-2006, 08:58 AM
I have a set somewhere but never used them. I know they are used to shield the collar / hackle fibers from the tying off operation at the head of a fly. It's common to get the barbs pulled into the head making a mess and affecting the head cement part etc.

To be honest I use either my wide gap whip finisher and wet fingers to apply a little "mousse" and/or whip finish with the fingers holding a bodkin which helps but frankly using a guard would be much more effective at times.

I also took the remedial verses preventative route by purchasing an expensive pair of capilary snips which can remove individual barbules from under thread. Now that I think of it... I'd save time with a guard.

01-08-2006, 11:26 AM
Being a good dad requires that I use them, :) and that they enable me to tie incredible-looking flies. :smile: I just really need to figure out how.

01-08-2006, 12:34 PM
I am going to experiment with it, I do waste a lot of time dealing with the hackles getting into the threadwork!

01-08-2006, 04:57 PM

Yeah, the kids deserve to see Dad in action using their gift.

I have a set, but seldom use them. The hole is sized to accomodate the the eye of the hook. Obviously, once the guard is in place, never build a head so large as to prevent you removing the tool.

After you have wrapped and locked your hackle: With the bobbin on a dangle, slide the tool onto your thread via the slot (radius cut). Slide the guard up the thread, over the eye with the concave surface facing your hackle. You will now be off the thread with the tool resting on the shanks thread base. You may weight the tool at any time as desired to prevent rolling. Build your head, whip finish, remove the tool and cement.

Practice a few times then call the kids in.


01-09-2006, 07:23 AM
Or you could finish the fly as you normally do and use the hackle guard as a "hackle press" to press the hackles into place. Kind of like a comb for hackles. Well, that's what you tell the kids anyways. ;)

The other option is to use the guards to hold back hackles while applying head cement. As you get older your hands get a little more shaky and occasionally I paint head cement ont the hackles. Using a hackle gurd as a mask for head cement would probably be useful.

01-09-2006, 12:46 PM

They are designed to be fit over the eye of the hook after the hackle has been wrapped and tied off so you can finish the head of the fly without tying down any hackle barbs. Just take one they eye fits through, use it to hold the hackle fibers back out of the way, and whip finish the head. Personally, I never use them because as Juro mentioned, it is far faster and easier to simply use your thumb and forefinger of the left hand to hold the hackle barbs back out of the way when finishing the head of the fly.