tips for folding hackle [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: tips for folding hackle

08-27-2002, 01:30 PM
Been switching over to using a lot of speys and spider patterns for steelhead as of late. I have been mainly stripping one side of the spey hackle and tying in from there.

However it seems the folding the hackle would be less wasteful but I have had the worst luck actually getting it to fold nicely.

Anyone willing to share some tips???


08-27-2002, 02:06 PM
FWIW, I tie in the hackle by the tips, then keeping the rachis taut, pull the fibers rearward with a light pinching motion. Always go from tip to butt, and after a couple feathers it's as easy as easy can be!

A Lady Caroline tied this way:

08-27-2002, 02:10 PM

Good old fashoined spit - works wonders :D

08-27-2002, 02:31 PM
Nice tie pastortd. Wish I could get my heads that small and tidy. One of these days... I am still just tying for the fish and thanks for the tips.

Adrian- Forgot all about spit. Will also give that a try. Sounds like my kind of tip.


08-27-2002, 09:45 PM

Whether to fold or not fold is also dependent upon what feather you are using for a apey feather. If you are using heron, schlappen or coche feathers you have to strip one side or the result is too bushy and busy resulting in a fly that doesn't fish nearly as cincely as it should. If you are using Blue Eared Pheasant or one of the other eared pheasant or chinese pheasant feathers, doubling is the say to go since the pheasants have much lower barbule counts.

That said, I have found that it is fairly easy to double a feather on the hook after it is tied in by either tip or butt, although tip first lays on the hook without any nudging needed. I know how to double a feather in my hands but that was a technique invented because the old masters tied in the hand with their fingers instead of a vise. And tying in your fingers without a vise absolutely requires you to double the feather before it is tied on because you have only one hand to manipulate the feather.

However, with a vise, you have both hands available to manipulate the feather, and that makes all the difference. Anyhow, after tying in the feather by either tip or butt, hld the feather up and fold (actually pull the fibers toward the back of the hook) the fibers reward and wrap the feather with the other hand. Continue doing this all the way to where you wish to tie the feather off. Much easier and far quicker than doubling before tying the feather in.

I'm sure there are other tyers who have discovered this method of doubling feathers as well. For those who haven't, give it a try. This techinique makes fro faster tying as well because it eliminates a step when tying as well.

Happy feather bending!

08-27-2002, 10:24 PM
Great advice!

I would add that the size of the feather / fly might also determine whether one doubles or not, in addition to the above. For tying small black herons for summer work using dyed (slightly burnt) mallard flank feathers as found in PNW stores, it's not necessary to strip one size or fold prior because the barbule length and general fly proportions won't reveal a reversed curve in the spey hackle. You can "fold as you go", drape down to the sides and trim the top as needed under the mallard wing and the fish will still eat it ;)

When using longer Blue-eared feathers I always strip one side because the curvature of the opposite side contradicts the spey 'cup' shape.

When I moved out to the northeast from Seattle I spent the frigid winter trying A/S patterns. When preparing standard hackles for collars etc on A/S flies the end result is far better if the barbs are folded first, but that is another discussion apart from Spey hackles.

That reminds me, another factor is whether you are going to fish them or tie them for show. For "working" flies I tend to do whatever is most expedient while still catching fish.

For small heads stop the body with ample gap back from the eye and secure the body well before starting the final collaring and winging, horns, cheeks, eyes, etc. Stay with a medium or fine thread to finish and mask the previous at a slight offset with the next step, finish the last whip with a tiny little head and a drop of lacquer on a bodkin point. I can't always do it but when it works it's a thing of beauty - Syd Glasso's flies are a revelation.

You might check out the new Whiting hackles Ryan's been talking about...

BTW - Beautiful flies Pastor!

08-28-2002, 12:39 AM
Originally posted by juro
You might check out the new Whiting hackles Ryan's been talking about...

Have you had a chance to play with the hackles I sent out to you or the Flourofiber?

08-28-2002, 10:20 PM

Another 'trick' and a way to make a very durable fly with a small head is to tie on the wing or tie off the collar with not more than 3 turns of thread. Then trim the exces winging material or collar feather. Add a drop of lacquer to the tie off area and then whip finish with a four to six turn whip finish. This works best when you use a whip finisher like the Materelli.

This produces a small head and an extremely durable fly. Almost forgot, don't forget to add another coat or two of lacquer to the head for best durability allowing each to dry between coats. The extra lacquer also produces a nice,glossy head.

Good tying!

08-29-2002, 12:58 AM
I never did much folding. I mostly trimmed or left like it was. May have to try it and see how it comes out.

08-29-2002, 09:53 AM
The above are could comments on folding hackle, but I don't think I see this one mentioned which a fly shop owner and fly tyer here in Chicago showed me in 1995 or so to use with spey hackles.

Put the spey hackle in a cup of water and tie it while wet stroking back the wet hackles as you wrap it forward. It works for me and I can tell you I am not an advanced tyer.

I am like Juro I tie for the fish, not for show.

If you want a small head use 8/0 thread.

Give it a try.



08-29-2002, 11:29 AM
Another thing that might prove helpful is to split the hackles rather than fold them. Take a razor blade and slice up the centre of the rachis. (Does'nae work if it is too thin, but is effective on most feathers.) You then have two hackles that you can use. One normally ends up being shorter than the other, but the long one can be used for fully hackled flies like Herons, and the shorter for the collar on flies such as a Sol Duc. Often, it will be long enough for a couple turns anyway.

Using this with feathers like Ringneck rump, bleached quills, and the like, you can "shave" the rachis with your razor blade and make it thin enough that it does not affect the head.

8/0 thread, as mentioned by flytyer, is a fantastic way to keep the head small as well. Remember, it is the tightness of the wraps that makes a fly hold together, not the size of thread or number of wraps!

08-29-2002, 11:35 AM
Thanks all. Tied a few last night and the turned out great. (Great being relative for my tying skills, however I doubt the fish will mind.)

Pastord I am really liking the patterns you have brought to the forum in your short time here. Keep it up. Wish I had an extra spey reel so I could trade you for some flies...


08-29-2002, 11:40 AM
See I knew Pastortd was a good fly tyer based upon the patterns I have seen on the other site, while internet lurking:D

God I need all the help I can get to move further ahead in this complex craft !

08-29-2002, 05:27 PM
Originally posted by sean
(Great being relative for my tying skills, however I doubt the fish will mind.)

That really is where the rubber meets the road. Sure, most of us would rather fish with a fly that looks like it was pulled from a glossy book plate, but then again, how many of us have caught SH on Brown Hackle or Grey Hackle Peacocks? Brindle Bugs? Sometimes simple is better, and extravagant is just "extra."

Personally, I only fish with my "mistake" flies... cosmetic blemishes that won't sell. Fortunately (?) I make a lot of mistakes. I'd post a pic of the way I tie a "Sol Duc," but don't want to use up too much bandwidth here. :) Some other time.