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PatcrisciMarch 24th, 2009, 8:30 am
Lagrangeville, NY

Posts: 119
I tie just a handful of hackled dry fly patterns: Ausable Wulff, Royal Wulff and a skittering caddis -- mostly in sizes 14, 16 & 18. What's the most economical approach to buying quality hackles to meet these tying needs? I am willing to spend a bit more to get a higher quality hackle but I just don't need the full range of hackle sizes on a neck or cape. I'm also leery of buying hackle thru mail order as I like to touch and see the gloss, stiffness, and resilience of the feathers. Anyone have any good advice?
Pat Crisci
SofthackleMarch 24th, 2009, 9:45 am
Site Editor
Wellsville, NY

Posts: 540
Pat,
There are some alternatives. 100 Micro Packs are available from various places.(Cabelas) These supposedly tie 100 flies and they come sized for you. These are quality hackles for dries and come in various kinds like grizzly, ginger, etc. Other options are Metz Dry fly multipacks. These come with three different feather swatches, run small, medium and large. The combinations of feathers are different like Gizzly Brown & Cream, or Badger, Cream & Black. Whiting 1/4 saddles are also an option. Again they are sized (small- size 14 and smaller & larger-size 14 and larger) and come in a selection of kinds. These supposedly tie between 250-350 flies. If you not tie a lot of dries, the 100 Micropacks are very good.

Mark
"I have the highest respect for the skilled wet-fly fisherman, as he has mastered an art of very great difficulty." Edward R. Hewitt

Flymphs, Soft-hackles and Spiders: http://www.troutnut.com/libstudio/FS&S/index.html
WbranchMarch 24th, 2009, 10:44 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2723
If I were you I'd locate a buddy who ties and offer to split a full Hoffman or Whiting saddle. I did that with a friend maybe ten years ago and we bought dark and medium dun, cream, grizzly, light ginger and coachman brown. I tie lots of dry flies in the #14 - #20 range and probably stll have enough hackle to last me another twenty years. Each saddle will easily tie 6 - 8 flies with 3 - 4 turns of hackle.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
WiflyfisherMarch 24th, 2009, 6:25 pm
Wisconsin

Posts: 644
If you want some great hackles than I would not hesitate to spend the money and buy from http://www.jimsflyco.com/. Jim has the best hackle necks I have ever seen!
John S.
https://WiFlyFisher.com
RiverBumMarch 25th, 2009, 11:34 am
Posts: 3Whiting 100 packs are the best in my opinion they come suited for the most common hook sizes and come in a wide variety of colors ive always used these and have never been disappointed
GONZOMarch 25th, 2009, 6:44 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Pat,

I can still remember when the only option was to sort through barrels of musty Indian hackle necks hoping to find one that was passable for a few dry-fly wrappings. Today's hackles are a dream to use and worth the price. I only wish they were available when I was first learning to tie dry flies. Those nasty old hackles had a sharp taper, and even the best ones had lots of web in the lower half. You had to squeeze what wraps you could manage out of the tips before the hackle pliers broke the stem or slipped off. Heavily-hackled flies (like Wulffs or Humpies) required multiple hackles. PA old timers might remember "three-hackle" flies.

Full necks might seem the most economical on a price-per-hackle basis, but that economy depends on being able to use all of the sizes on a neck. I always end up with the throat plucked bare and the rest of the neck awaiting some use that perhaps I can imagine, but don't really need.

I'll join the others in recommending "micro" saddles. Whether you want 100 packs, 1/4 saddles, or 1/2 saddles depends on how much you want to spend and how many flies you want to tie with a particular size/color of hackle. The saddles sometimes have slightly thicker stems for part of their length than the very best grade of neck hackle, but that doesn't bother me in the least. Besides being able to get multiple flies out of one hackle, I can wrap all but the last fly without using the accursed hackle pliers. :)



SandflyMarch 26th, 2009, 3:26 am
tioga co. pa.

Posts: 33
Ha ! I still have a large bin of india necks, now alot of people want them for their color and wet fly tying..Only bad thing with the new longer hackle is sometimes to "flat" even for my taste. Other wise they are great.
sandfly
shop owner
N.J.B.B.A. #2215
Tiadaughton T.U. 688
I didn't Escape------They gave me a day pass !
RleePMarch 26th, 2009, 6:46 am
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
>>Ha ! I still have a large bin of india necks, now alot of people want them for their color and wet fly tying..>>

Which is why after I make this post, I'm going to log off and go kill my wife's cat (when he behaves himself, he's my cat too, but not right now..).

I was tying Prince nymphs yesterday and the skinny little creep of a cat (he belongs to my wife, did I mention that?) took off with my dark brown india hen neck that I've had since 1972 and that still had at least 15 or 20 usable feathers on it. I don't know where he stashed it and he isn't talking unless I give him whipped cream out of the can, which he usually barfs right up again anyway.

I probably have 25 or so india necks left from the so-called good old days. Some are quite exceptional for what they are. By this, I mean that some of them have a fair number of feathers that will tie down to an honest #16. I don't use them much any more because as Lloyd noted, the hackle today is so much better. But, like my Dad's old Plott hound when he got too old to run coon any more, I keep them around more in recognition of the service they're rendered in the past than anything they're likely to do in the future.

In any event, for my high volume usages (grizzly, brown, ginger), I buy partial (quarter?) Whiting saddles. I think they are the best balance of economy and quality. I haven't been able to find them in the shade of dark dun I like for BWO's and hackled grannoms out here in the Midwest. But I did stumble across a half a neck in dark dun that was perfect. It was Whiting, but branded as Orvis.

Whoops, gotta go.. Here comes the little creep. Heeeere, kitty kitty....
GONZOMarch 26th, 2009, 8:31 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Lee,

Thanks for the first good laugh of the day. Have you tried keeping a small squirt gun near your tying table? It really pisses the cat off (so to speak), and the potential consequences for your marriage are a bit less drastic than wringing its neck. After a while, you'll only have to aim the thing, and the "little creep" will scamper off to cower in a corner.
PatcrisciMarch 26th, 2009, 10:35 am
Lagrangeville, NY

Posts: 119
Lee, I am laughing out loud at your "here kitty" post. That was really funny. And you description of pawing thru a barrel of musty indian necks took me back to the days of my early fly tying too. I decided to buy 1/4 necks from Whiting. Thanks to everyone for weighing in on this topic.
Pat Crisci
MartinlfMarch 26th, 2009, 2:12 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3159
If you decide you want to tie some small olives or midges, Whiting has full to 1/4 midge saddles too. Lots of great hackles in the smaller sizes.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
WiflyfisherMarch 26th, 2009, 7:01 pm
Wisconsin

Posts: 644
The flip side... I had a mouse get in some of my ol' stuff at the cabin. It was our kitty who caught the darn rascal. I too still have some of those ol' musty India necks.
John S.
https://WiFlyFisher.com
RleePMarch 27th, 2009, 7:17 am
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
>Have you tried keeping a small squirt gun near your tying table?>>

Good idea! We have one (actually, it's an empty Veggie Wash bottle with the nozzle turned to "stream") we use to keep the cat off the good couch.

I think I'll bring it down in the basement by my tying table..

In the meantime, I'm thinking of waterboarding him to make him reveal where he hid the neck. But I probably won't because a big part of what is going on here is my total failure as a disciplinarian and my total helplessness when he works his psy-ops on me. I yell at the cat. He runs away for a few minutes. Then he jumps up on my lap and purrs. I feel guilty and give him whipped cream. He barfs. When he's done with that, he jumps up on the table and looks for something else to steal. Lather, rinse, repeat....



But this conversation got me thinking about my india necks and I went down this morning and went through them again. I have some nice ones I'd forgotten about. A ginger variant that will surely tie down to 16's. A couple of really nice regular dark gingers and even one of those old domestic grizzlies that used to cost $20 and would reliably tie down to 18's and an occasional 20. Pretty neat in terms of memories as well as plain old utility..
MartinlfMarch 27th, 2009, 9:16 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3159
Lee,

I know from experience that it's hard to tie with a cat in your lap--especially when he wants to bat the bobbin when you let it hang. I must confess I'm as poor a disciplinarian as you are. But as per another thread, one does have a lot of dubbing at hand.

--Louis
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
RleePMarch 27th, 2009, 10:02 am
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
That's so true, Louis...

The one who gives me trouble is a dark gray/white spotted cat (sort of like a Holstein cow..). I might be able to substitute his gray for mole fur in soft hackles.

The other one is a tawny sand longhair. He's good for Cahills as is.

And if I could get him to sit his arse end in a tan Rit bath for a few minutes, I think I'd have just what I need for the sulfurs out here. The problem with that is when Mrs. RLeeP found out, I'd probably end up in the tan Rit right with him.

Oh well, life is full of dilemmas and choices...
PatcrisciApril 1st, 2009, 10:07 am
Lagrangeville, NY

Posts: 119
i received today the first of two whiting 1/4 saddles ordered from cabela's. the grizzly is beautiful -- nice barred long glossy and resilient mostly web-free feathers. A pleasure to tie with. I am awaiting the brown saddle, which is on back order. Thanks for the good advice everyone.
Pat Crisci
WbranchApril 1st, 2009, 8:41 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2723
My girl kitty Jill likes to jump up om my tying desk and sit down under the heat of the tying lamp. It is a pain in the butt because if she jumps up she often knocks stuff down or I quickly have to get all my hooks secured so she doesn't eat any of them.

I guess her fur is a good match for the Gray Muskrat nymph, whatdaya think?

Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
PatcrisciApril 2nd, 2009, 5:59 am
Lagrangeville, NY

Posts: 119
Hey WB, looks like your gray kitty could keep you in Muskrats and Adams' for an eternity! In my house its not the pets but I who pose the greatest danger. I have lost hooks in the carpet and found them stuck in my black lab's or in my terrier's paws!
Pat Crisci
RleePApril 2nd, 2009, 6:29 am
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
WB: Give or take a few extra small patches of white on the front quarters, that cat looks a lot like for our Oscar cat, the one who took off with my dark brown India neck.

In fact, put a Marlboro red in her mouth and a half empty bowl of the New Schlitz by her side and I'd be tempted to think it actually is our Oscar:

I can link it, but I can't make the damn picture appear..

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/rleep/Oscarinpenthouse3.jpg



WbranchApril 2nd, 2009, 12:28 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2723
Rleep wrote -

"our Oscar cat, the one who took off with my dark brown India neck."

I learned back when she was a little kitten that she loves to play with my necks so I've given her an old hen neck to bat around and chew - gotta keep her away from my Hoffman saddles!
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
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