Whiting Spey Hackle [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Whiting Spey Hackle

Stu Farnham
10-12-2002, 12:12 AM
Anyone know where to get it?


10-12-2002, 12:26 AM
It is very hard to find at the moment, as everyone as pretty much bought up the first generation.

Stay tuned though as this January, Tom will be releasing his second generation which will contain feathers that are longer and a tad more 'body' then the first run.

I've got a few skins now and absolutely love it!!

10-12-2002, 12:39 AM
I never got my samples of that spey hackle Ryan. Hint hint. LOL

How'd the SI's work for you anyways??? Wish I had more time to make better one's for you.

10-12-2002, 06:50 AM
Ryan -

I tried the first gen and liked it, but if I could say anything could be improved, it would have been that I like the barbules to be more substantial. Sounds like I was not the only one!

Can't wait to see the next batch.

Stu Farnham
10-12-2002, 08:13 AM
Thanks guys.

Speybum gave me a few feathers, and I'd agree with the comments above: could be longer and a bit more substantial.


10-12-2002, 10:08 PM

The lack of thickness in the feather barbules is why I don't like the Whiting Spey Hackle. Schappen or Coche feathers are much better because they have more barbule thickness. In fact, if you read Knox's 'AUTUMN ON THE SPEY', you will find out that most spey flies of old were tied with Coche feathers. Yes, a few were tied with Heron, but the vast majority were tied with Coche feather. Blue Earned Pheasant is also a superb subsitute for Heron when you feel the need for a feather that is similar to Heron.

If Whiting Farms can increase the barbule thickness by a factor of 4, their Spey Hackle will be a very good substitute indeed. I do wonder if that is possible though.

Also, if you really want to use rooster neck feathers, which is what Whiting's Spey Hackle is that is long enough to tie a spey fly, all you need to do is use the biggest feathers on a Chinese Hackle Neck, or use the Whiting American Hackle necks bigest feathers. Yes, the feather stem in larger diameter than the Whiting Spey Hackle, but the barbules are the same.

10-13-2002, 12:04 AM
ain't no 2 ways about it.. There is no such thing as heron substitute. I cannot tie well enough to do respect to a heron feather so I don't fish spey's much. Not trying to say bad things about whiting but heron is the only thing that REALLY works.. Woo Hoo and I found a feather today.. Hey none of you guys work in law enforcment do you?

10-13-2002, 09:21 AM
I have lots of Heron feathers adorning flies and fly plates in boxes in my fishing vest and hanging on the walls of my home. Is it against the law to posses these?

10-13-2002, 10:38 AM
moonlight no more illegal than say polar bear.:D

10-13-2002, 10:44 AM
I am no expert but the word on the river is that if the source can't be proven to be beyond the jurisdiction of the federal law then you could be in trouble for it.

As far as schlappen, my own personal preference is for less sticky webbed Spey hackle, like the blue-eared pheasants or even the burnt goose for larger flies because they don't mat together like schlappen. This is purely a matter of preference I'm sure because I've caught fish on schlappen hackled flies and they don't seem to mind.

For smaller Spey flies, like low water #6 or #8, I love using the dyed mallard with one side stripped. The other hackles are too long for this use (once again, preference).

Tying some up tonight as a matter of fact!

10-13-2002, 11:05 AM
A fellow in Sitka who runs a tourist trap is a dealer in "Native Art" and as such he does from time to time come in to possesion of various Seals, Otters, and Bears.
The exemption under the Endangered species act for Native consumption and sales is I gather fairly fluid (and loose). He claims as a Native he may purchase from other Natives who have harvested animals and made minor art work addittions to the skin ie. an ink or charcol drawing on the tanned hide side. Then he is able to sell them through his retail store to non natives for a substantial profit. Seems like most of the folks I see shopping are more interested in Baleen and Ivory but it appears to be a thriving bussiness and there are at least a dozen federal and state wildlife cops in town that no all about this . My guess is there is away to get around having a few "Found Heron" feathers in ones possesion.

10-13-2002, 11:08 AM
There is a vendor who comes as far as the Boston fly show to sell polar bear decorations and artifacts. Now why would they be selling wall hangings and desk ornaments made of PB at a fly show? Why ask why? :devil:

10-13-2002, 02:09 PM
All I know is that if they are realy worried about me picking up a heron feather off the bank of the river and sending it to a friend of mine to be made into a work of art well then they can come arrest me.:D frankly I don't think it would be worth their effort

10-13-2002, 05:21 PM
There is legal polar bear out there. You have to have proof that it was killed pre 1974 I do believe (not exactly sure on the date). I found a guy who was altering an old polar bear rug documented that it was shot in the early 1900's. He gave me some good sized pieces off of that. He may give me more, depending on how the rug comes out. I made sure off get go this was an older rug. Saw pictures of the rug in an old black and white photo circa 1930's in his grandfathers den. So I know it was legit. I also know they sell legal seal fur dubbing too. But it has to be either harvested by a Native I do believe.

Now, with heron, I do believe it depends on the heron. There is a guy on ebay actually selling it. I know there is a person who monitors ebay for such illegal/embargoed stuff. He has the stuff on all the time. Not sure what type of heron though. I'm not sure on logistics, but I had heard if you have feathers from either a legal source (natives who are allowed to harvest) or certain millinaries you're ok with proper documentation.

BTW Juro, YES, if I get any of the long fur from the polar bear, you'll be the first I give it to. I don't tie up long streamers/saltwater flies, so would have no use for it unless I chopped it down. Which would be a waste.

10-14-2002, 10:57 PM

You are correct about the need for documentation to show that it was from a legal source. Also, if the Polar Bear sold by a Native American did not have the drawing or other art on it, it would not be legal for him to sell it except to another Native American.

Note, there are legal Heron feathers available from England. You must have a CITIES permit to bring them into the U.S. or Canada legally. Once in either contry, you must be able to document that they were purchased from someone who had the CITIES permit to bring them in and documentation from his source that they were legally obtained by the importer.

You are also correct about 1974 being the magic year. This was when the CITIES convention and the endangered species act went into effect. Tricky Dick was good for something. There are sops and individual out there who sell illegal Polar Bear, which is supposedly from a rug that was made by a pre 1974 bear. Amazing how many years a hide will produce 100's of square inches/year.

The rule is, if they can't produce the documentation, don't buy because you can get arrested for having it, including in an already tied fly.

10-15-2002, 07:10 AM
The Flyfishing Forum owns a current CITIES permit. If anyone is interested in exotic feathers, take a peek at Fishermen's Feathers (our sponsor) at http://fishermensfeathers.com/usa and let me know if anyone wants to consolidate a single order under the CITIES number.

It will have to be paypal though - checks just having been working.


Dave Drennan
10-27-2002, 01:56 PM
...is that his Bronze (mostly) and some Silver grade Spey capes and saddles will be avialible after the first of the year. All "Gold" quality roosters will be kept as brood stock for the next generation. Dr. Whiting has put six years into his Spey hackle program and he is about two years (two generations) from some really great feathers. Also - saltwater tiers are interested in these capes!

10-28-2002, 11:50 PM

Unless he gets more body (fiber desnity in the individual barbules) they won't be the best choice for spey feathers. A proper spey feather really needs to have some thickness in the barbules to give the proper silouette in the water.

I hope he can get this fixed. It would be very nice to be able to buy a cape full of spey feathers at a reasonable price, instead of paying upwards of $225.00 or more for a good 4 year or older blue eared pheasant skin, buying coche feathers that you must slightly burn with bleach to prevent fibers clumping when wet, or using schlappen that must have the web mashed by your thumb nail to keep from mashing together when wet.

I know I am a great fan of his 'American Grade' rooster capes for steelhaead and atlantic salmon. And his "American Grade" saddles for wooly buggers.

Dave Drennan
10-29-2002, 12:49 AM
...count and bigger barb diameter and length are the three things he is working on and why he is two years away from really good Spey hackle. What he has avialible is still better than nothing. The Bronze capes are $20, the Silvers are $30. When the Gold capes come avialible they will be $40. I just spent nine days travelling around Northern Calif. with him and we never ran out of things to talk about concerning hackles of every discription. I'm also a fan of Whiting American Hackle for Deceivers and hackling steelhead flies.

Dave Drennan
10-29-2002, 12:57 AM
...where do "coche" feathers come from? I'm reading John Shewey's book "Spey Flies & Dee Flies" and not finding this little piece if information.

10-29-2002, 01:58 AM

Coche feathers are the side tail feather of a rooster. You can find them at "Feathers Unlimitted", they have a web address but I don't have it readily at hand here at the computer, just do a search for them and you will find them. They sell them by the inch or the pound. Get them in natural bronze, natural brown (furnace really), and white and then dye the white to other colors you may want. Borden's Hareline Dubbing also had them listed last year in 1/4 once packages in a variety of colors. they are about the same price as schlappen, but have much longer barbules.

Also, you can occassionally find an older blue eared pheasant skin for around $80.00 - $100.00 dollars if you keep your eyes open and put out the word that you are looking for a skin from an exotic bird fancier. I owuld love to use heron again, but even using 'found feathers' is too risky because you can still be arressted and fined $10,000.00 for simply using a fly that has a heron feather on it unless you can prove it did not come from a wild U.S. bird, 0r prove it came from a bird that was harvested prior to 1974. These are very difficult, if not imposible, things to do.

nevada caster
11-03-2002, 09:14 AM
I just returned from British Columbia, and all of the fly shops that I checked had polar bear for sale. Howeverr, most were sold out because Americans were buying it to take across the border. It sells for $7 canadien, about $4.50 US for abour 4 sq in. I wonder if polar bear is part of the CITES agreement, or just illegal in the US?

11-04-2002, 09:03 PM
Nevada Caster,

Polar bear is illegal in the U.S. unless you can prove it was harvested prior to 1974. Otherewise, it can get you into a lot of trouble.

Yes, I know that you can buy it in Canada legally; however, buying it legally in Canada and then bringing it across the U.S. border legally are two entirely different things. At the least, the border patrol can simply take it from you. At the worst, the border patrol can arrest you and have you face a fine of up to 10,000.00 and/or jail. There is some legal polar bear in the U.S.; but I will not buy any polar bear unless the one selling it can provide me with proof of it having been harvested prior to 1974. It is not worth the risk. This is why it sells for up to $12.00/square inch here in the U.S.

The other exception is if you buy a piece of polar bear that has had the hide side painted on by a Native Alaskan. This is considered Native Art. However, you must have a receipt from the Native Alaskan artist or Native Alaskan seller that identifies the Tribe/ band/Native Corporation of the artist and seller as well as the enrollment number of each.

Frankly, as much as I like fine polar bear (not the long, coarse stuff) it just is not worth the risk to me. Yak hair is very close to polar bear in texture, translucency, and light gathering qualities and it is legal and fairly easy to find. Therefore, this is what I recommend people use. Mountain Goat is also pretty close to polar bear and it is also legal. Why mess with the illegal stuff when you can use legal substitutes that are nearly identical?