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Steelheader69 05-12-2003 07:37 PM

question on spey hackle
I know there is a variety of ways to go, and each have their own preferences. I use blue eared pheasant and some misc types of feathers on mine. But what I was curious about, I had read about whitting coming out with a spey hackle. Never really read or heard much about it since. Did they ever create it? Was it any good? Or better to just stick with blue eared?

Also, what do you all use for your hackles? I know I've tried schlappen, burnt goose, and the "spey hackle" you find by Deke Meyer (which is a pain to tie with and only a few of the feathers really look good, so have to weed most out). Just trying to see if I'm in the right direction. I've used heron, but of course we all know it's hard to come by, and too expensive when you find legal documented stuff. So, what else does everyone use?

Stu Farnham 05-12-2003 09:10 PM

Spey Hackle
I use blue eared pheasant, schlappen, coque, marabou, or pheasantrump depending on the size of the fly, texture of feather, and/or color. I've used stripped peahen tail feathers as well, but did not really like their texture.

I saw some of the early whiting stuff, and it was too fine for my taste (although I hear it has gotten better). Burned goose is somewhere off teh bottom of my list. Stems are too think...


speyman 05-12-2003 11:52 PM

Spey Hackle
The Whiting hackles are too small in fibre and have no body in the water. I think they are a poor choice. I like BEP a lot but it is very expensive and you can only get 3 turns on a fly.

I now use and sell two options.

One is a chicken Spey hackle which has fibres long enough, in the largest size, to hackle flies to 5/0. The stuff is not as webby as Schlappen. The fibres actually separate as you are teasing and wrapping and you end up with a nice profile and a good looking fly. The stuff also has no stem so wrapping it is easy. I dye it in a wide variety of colors so you can tie just about any pattern you can imagine.

I am also starting to use Rhea Spey hackle. Rhea is an Ostrich like bird but again the fibres have body and do not go limp in the water. They retain their body and build a nice profile. The fibres on the Rhea are from 4" to 7" long, wow! The Rhea can be soaked and pulled away from the stem allowing you to use both sides of the feather and once stripped the stem is non existent. When stripped the hackle must be counter wrapped for durability. The Rhea is also available in a wide variety of dyed colors in either three packs or by the single feather. A package makes a lot of flies.

One of my favorite new colors is Blue Eared Pheasant, a slate grey with a touch of blue to it.

Email me at for more details or you can touch and feel the materials at River Run Anglers in Carnation.

NrthFrk16 05-13-2003 01:21 AM

Re: Spey Hackle

Originally posted by speyman
The Whiting hackles are too small in fibre and have no body in the water. I think they are a poor choice. I like BEP a lot but it is very expensive and you can only get 3 turns on a fly.
I double the feathers up and have no problem getting the body I need to produce a productive Spey fly...and, from my very own experiences, I have found this stuff to catch fish and to me, that is what is most important when we are discussing various Heron subsitutes.

fredaevans 05-13-2003 01:21 AM

Personal opinion here .... but from what I've
seen of "Aaron's stuff," if he recommends it ... drop the dime.

Steelheader69 05-13-2003 01:51 AM

Actually, I actually select the BEP feathers. I usually can find the one's I want and keep the rest for my smaller flies. Usually I can get up to 5 turns with the bigger sized feathers. I'm really curious on one of the feathers I have. They do have a good strong profile, but have no name on them and are nice sturdy feathers. But, have no idea what kind of feathers they are. May have to check it out.

I'm hoping to make it up to the spey roundtable this time around. Way things have been going with me, we'll see.

flytyer 05-14-2003 12:40 AM


Blue Eared Pheasant (white eared and brown eared as well) are my favorite heron subsitutes. I tie them in by the tips and double the feather as I wrap it. If one DEP feather is not long enough to tie more than 3 or 4 turns, simple tie in one feather by the tip, wrap it up the body to the shoulder, and then tie in a second feather by the tip and wrap 2 or 3 turns for a shoulder. No one will be the wiser unless s/he is an accomplished tyer who takes a very, very close look at the fly that 2 feathers were used.

Coche feathers (rooster side tail feathers) are a great spey feather. In fact, these were the original spey feathers as can be readily seen from the description of the feather in "Autumns on the Spey". They are also inexpensive. And you must strip one side of the feather. They do need to be burned slightly in bleach to remove some the web though. This is very easy to do and only takes seconds. Keep a bowl of vinegar handy and after about 5 seconds, transfer the feathers from the water and bleach solution (1/2 and 1/2) to the vinegar to stop the burning. Needless to say do this is a well-ventilated area or the fumes will make you goofy.

Schlappen is also a spey feather I use, and it is a feather that Glasso used on his flies that called for yellow hackle. You need to break down the web a bit on schlappen though by crushing the barbules on the side of the feather you are going to use, stip the other side and tie schlappen in by the butt always.

Dyed ringneck rump feathers work if you need dark brown or black. There is just not a lot of them that are long enough on any given bird.

The Whitiing Spey necks have improved greatly this year over last year; however, the feather barbules are still too fine and limp for good spey flies. The direction the Whiting Spey Hackle is headed I predict that in about 2 years they will be an excellent spey hackle. They are just not there yet.

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