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> > Your Favorite Hackle Pliers?

MartinlfDecember 9th, 2010, 10:45 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3229
OK, I couldn't resist. And I'm going to cheat a bit, but I'm interested in hearing what others have to say on this topic:

I have an almost embarrassing fondness for my teardrop hackle pliers. They came into my life when I was just beginning to tie, taking classes with Bob Clouser at the Elizabethtown High School in the evenings. That was about twenty years ago. A few years back I tied a bit of flourescent pink ultra chenille in the loop to keep them from hiding on my cluttered tying table, and they play a little less hard to get most of the time now. Yes, they will break a hackle faster than some versions, but with the right touch they at least don't slip--something I hate when wrapping that final turn on a bug that has already taken too long to tie. I really don't know what I'd do without them, but I get a hint of it whenever I try to tie at John Dunn's tying station at camp, or at my brother-in-law Walt's, over a holiday visit. It can be done, but even simple flies sometimes feel hard to tie without my favorite squeeze.

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

--Fred Chappell
SlateDrake9December 10th, 2010, 4:42 am
Potter County, PA

Posts: 144
For years I've used a heavy duty pair with a "cushioned" grip from Herters (I believe w/o double checking). They have a grooved jaw that could grip onto a person and pull them up a cliff. I still use them sometimes, but about 2-3 years ago I found a little pair in a flyshop that has a blue plastic circle to put a finger in that's attached to a swivel and spring that connects to a pair of pliers like seen on the newer rotary hackle pliers. (I'm sure you can picture that, right?) I'll do a web search for a link after work tonight. They don't hold as tight as my beloved Herters, but I've not found a one that saves little hackle stems better. They also prevent hackle twisting too.
Fishing with bait is like swearing in church.
-- Slate Drake
Shawnny3December 10th, 2010, 5:47 am
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
I've never found a pair of hackle pliers I like, but I haven't tried very hard, either. I usually don't use them at all, because it allows me to be in more direct contact with the material and fly. I find it much easier to put variable amounts of tension on a material if it is held directly in my hand rather than in a tool. Lately, I've even started holding the thread rather than the bobbin holder while making wraps, allowing the holder to dangle loosely in my palm, because it puts me in direct control of the thread. Sometimes tools get in the way.

That said, I can certainly understand Louis's affinity for a particular tool. It's a special thing when a tool feels like an extension of you. My favorite tools are ones I've made or modified, perhaps more because I've made or modified them than because they're really good tools.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
PaulRobertsDecember 10th, 2010, 8:03 am

Posts: 1776
Gosh, I have a bunch. But they are ALL cheapies. I mean old school -nothing fancy. My favorite are the simple oval looped spring with rubber lips. They hold and don't break hackles. But I don't know what else is out there, or what I'm missing.
OldredbarnDecember 10th, 2010, 8:43 am
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608

I think the ones you are talking about are the Tiemco pliers...They are black with little yellow plastic tips...(?) I am rather fond of those as well and have a favorite pair that has just about had it...


"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
PaulRobertsDecember 10th, 2010, 8:52 am

Posts: 1776
No, mine have no name on them. I have two, one came in my very first kit. They are an oval metal spring, shaped like a shower curtain ring, and the lips are black rubber.

Here's a pic of something very close. Mine have rubber pads on both jaws.
RleePDecember 10th, 2010, 10:34 am
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
My favorite hackle pliers are the first pair I can find on my tying desk. I have about 9 pairs. By type, they're all whatever they happened to be shipping from Pakistan at the point in time when I couldn't find any of the 8 other pairs and had to go out and buy one.

Depending on my mood, I can have a short fuse/low frustration threshold, so one thing I usually do with steel jawed hackle pliers is put a dot (about the size of a single #8 birdshot) of Overton's Wonder Wax on the jaws. This (for me anyway) cuts way down on slippage.

On Edit: The one kind of hackle pliers I could never abide were those damnable spring loaded things with the little hook on them. They actually make better Christmas tree ornaments than hackle pliers, IMO..
JADDecember 10th, 2010, 10:57 am
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362
Hi guys
At my age it"s hard to find new fishing buddies. Now back to the subject I give him a bed room a tying desk,next to the bed and he %$&@* about pliers.

I did"nt know that was his problem Louis told me his back hurt.

Louis I love ya

They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cockís wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
PaulRobertsDecember 10th, 2010, 11:02 am

Posts: 1776
LOL! So...which ones do you like best? And does it matter? I have some of those. But I only ever use one!
JADDecember 10th, 2010, 11:29 am
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362
Paul same as my fishing buddies---I'm not real fussy :)


They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cockís wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
MartinlfDecember 11th, 2010, 12:39 pm
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3229
Geeze John, I didn't know you were so touchy about hackle pliers. But now I see you were holding out on me. Or are those teardrops in the photo the pliers you keep in your home tying room but don't bring for your poor old fishing buddies to use at camp? Must be afraid I'll lose them . . . but you did finally find that knife, remember?
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
BippieDecember 20th, 2010, 6:10 am
Altoona, PA

Posts: 25
Over my 40 years of tying I've tried all kinds of hackle pliers.... the last 10 to 15 years it has mostly been the Dorin teardrop that I use.

By the way.... 20+ years ago I was there when Bob Clouser was teaching tying classes at the E-Town High school. Our TU Chapter supplied some instructor's assistants and I was one of the assistants. I have a big shadow box (2' x 3 1/2') with about 130 different flies mounted in it and I often took it to tying classes to show the students.
WbranchDecember 20th, 2010, 8:12 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
In my experience wrapping hackle, or any material, that I am going to palmer or wrap around the hook shank the ones in JAD's picture with the yellow tubing on the wire is by far the best for holding hackles, or other material, and not breaking it. I've used virtually every other type of hackle plier and have tied thousands of dry flies and PT nymph bodies and have yet to break a hackle or fiber using those hackle plies. Bob Marriott sells them for less than five bucks I think.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.

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