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Old 03-09-2005, 01:28 PM
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Adrian Adrian is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Connecticut/New England
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For full dressed patterns I wouldn't worry too much - although the fish is the final arbiter in any debate over pattern quality

Some patterns - flatwings in particular - need a finer quality hackle stem in order to get the feathers to stack level and swim correctly. For regular deceiver style patterns the odd missing tip isn't going to make much difference. The first couple of fish will make it look pretty ragged. In most cases, the more "beat up" the fly gets, the more effective it gets.

If you have feathers that are twisted or kinked try holding them (use pliers or tongs etc.) over a steaming kettle for a couple of minutes. Hot steam will sometimes bring them back to shape. Then lie them flat on a paper towel until dry.

Are you using a cape or strung saddle? The strung stuff seems to be cheaper but once you know what you want, you are much better of buying saddle hackle capes. Keep an eye out in your local fly shops - you'll see the odd bargain now and again. I've picked up some really good stuff for < $20 that was grade "D" or "not good enough" for trout patterns. A cape will give you a lot of material with a big range of sizes. Also, they last years soyou save money in the long run.

Hope this helps a bit - good luck!
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