hackle tip wings [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: hackle tip wings

11-21-2002, 05:00 PM
The other thread on the spawning purple fly got me thinking about glasso patterns. What do you guys use for hackle tip wings?

Are Chinese necks sufficient or is there a good source of dyed #2 or 3 necks out there?

From my fumbling around I can tell you that strung saddle or neck hackle just does not look good at all...


11-21-2002, 05:08 PM
If you are buying in a shop, look through the Chinese necks - they aren't always right, so I don't recommend purchasing one sight-unseen. If you get a good one, though, they're pretty cheap and they work perfectly.

I use a Saltwater or Bass cape. They are intended for use in wings/tails anyway, and have a nice shape. Fortunately, yellow and purple - the most common hackletip spey wing colours - are widely used in deceivers and poppers. The stem is thick enough to hold up properly, and the tips are made to be seen.

11-21-2002, 06:27 PM
Good topic - I love to tie hackle winged Glasso style flies. I use everything from mottled hen hackles for caddis patterns to furnace hackles dyed dark, basically any color pattern that suits the need. I like using them with loop eye hooks because you can pull the stems between the wire gap and wrap over them to make the tinest of heads while having good structure. It's best to get a cape where you can pluck from both sides to get the best match, and choose the right length/shape too. I use at least three on each side, place them tip to tip and strip them all at once, then do the other side. I've had the best luck with the hackles that are just longer than what is needed for the task, stripped of excessive webbiness and all fluff - just short barbules close to the root of the feather.

11-22-2002, 12:04 AM

Juro got it nailed on hackle tip spey wings. The only two things I do differently are using only 2 feathers per side, and slightly tenting them so that the top edges are together and the bottom edges are slightly apart. Chinese necks, bass and saltwater necks, Whiting American Hackle necks, etc. are all very good for this.

And like Juro said, use hackles from the left and right side of the cape if you want them to lie properly along with selecting hackles that are just a little bit longer than the wing length you need. One more tip, these wings look best if tied barely longer than the body and as close to the body as possible.

11-22-2002, 05:24 AM
I agree on the slight tenting, particularly with hen wings, and the selection of the feathers to lie well on the front body of the fly is important. You can cheat a little by stripping the bottom just a touch more if desired.

Laying on top of seal dubbing works great because it provides a good interaction with the base of the feathers.

It's a easier than mallard wings (although nothing can replace that) and actually has more life in the water by a long shot.

11-23-2002, 12:07 AM
Other things you can do with spey wings to make the fly very durable and have a small head as well are the following:

1) tie the wings in with only 3 or 4 wraps of thread.
2) cut the wing stubs off as close as possible to the tie in wraps
with a sharp pair of fine blade scissors.
3) put a drop of cement or head lacquer on the wing tie off
wraps after the stubs are cut off but before it is whip finished.
4) whip finish (a Materelli whip finisher is best for this) over the
wing tie off wraps with a 6 to 8 turn whip finish while the
cement of lacquer is still wet and clip the thread.

(Note: you need to use a medium viscosity cement for this to
work properly, thin cement doesn't work. There are any number
of good medium viscosity cements on the market, use whatever
one is your favorite or that is available at your local fly shop. I
use Raymond Rumphs Head Cement or Loon Hard Head,
although there are others. Avoid epoxies and super glues
because they will not allow the thread to slide properly when
you are tightening the whip finish.)

These four little tying steps prduce a very small head and a very durable fly. And finishing the head this way is also faster and easier than other methods. This technique works with mallard wings and golden pheasant body of saddle feathers (such as on a General Practitioner, or feather wing streamer) as well.

After the cement or lacquer has dried, put another coat of cement on the head and you will have a very durable and glossy head that looks very attractive. The extra coat of cement not only makes the fly look better, it also protects the thread from getting cut or beat up by fish and rocks.

11-23-2002, 11:19 AM
3) put a drop of cement or head lacquer on the wing tie off

Or cheat like I do - use super glue. A little bead on the thread that is then wrapped over those butts will hold them forever! Perhaps not the most traditional way, but my customers don't complain! Of course, cement comes after the whip finish to give that nice, glossy head.

If I'm using a feather with a thin rachis, it gets tied in first, hairwing-style. I strip off a few extra fibres, wrap and cement them into position, (keeps them from fouling/twisting), then tie the fly. When you get the collar finished, it's easy to fold back the wing, and tie down the bent, thin pieces, and cement all that. (With super glue first, of course! ;) ) They don't promote the very smallest head, but are more durable.