Feathers are a crucial material used for tying realistic flies. They allow you to add small details to flies that imitate many different types of the prey that trout and other fish feed on. Adding the right or wrong feather could be the difference between catching a fish and missing it.
Using feathers is especially common for trout flies. You’ll occasionally see a bass fly or a saltwater fly with feathers on it, but that’s not typically how those anglers and tiers like to tie their flies.
So, if you’re looking to get into tying or just want to know more about tying flies, then check out the article below. You’ll find all kinds of information about different types of feathers and how to use them.
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What Is a Fly Tying Feather?
Feathers are, interestingly enough, an evolved version of scales. Birds evolved from reptiles 160 million years ago, and in that time frame, the scales of their ancestors evolved into what we know as the feather.
Now, there are many different types of feathers from birds all over the world. Many of them have different colors and textures, and they all have different patterns.
All of these different types of colors and textures are then utilized by fly anglers to tie their flies to imitate different forage of the species they plan on targeting.
When to Use a Feather When Tying Flies
Many fly tiers utilize feathers in order to give their trout flies a more realistic look and feel. Many of your favorite flies most likely involve the use of some type of feather.
Most of the time, feathers are used as the wings of a fly, but they’re not limited to that. They can also be used as capes, legs for different terrestrials, or even claws for crawfish.
Basically, a feather can be used for whatever you need it to be. Once you get to a certain point in your tying abilities, you’ll be able to get more creative with the materials and do with them as you see fit.
Types of Fly Tying Feathers
Below, I’ll go over several different types of feathers used in fly tying. There are more feathers out there than the ones I’ll list, but these are some of the most popular.
Dry Fly Feathers
A trout’s diet is 90% subsurface. So, as much as we all love to throw dries to rushing trout, it’s more effective to go deep. Grouse, quail, and woodcock are all popular feathers. If you’re also a bird hunter, a bonus is that you can just harvest these yourself.
If you want to make your fly a little bit bigger and target some larger fish, then a streamer is a good way to go. Wood duck flank, marabou, and matuka feathers are all great for streamers.
Once summer hits, it’s time to put on a beetle, a grasshopper, or even an ant. All of these can be effective all summer. The best fly tying feather material for them is a teal flank, and soft hackle hen is very popular.
What Makes a Good Fly Tying Feather?
Below, I’ll go over exactly what makes the best feather material. I’ll cover several different features that will help you pick them out.
Size of the Stem
If you plan on wrapping or hacking the feather, then this comes into play. This is because you don’t want the stem in your fly, but you just want to utilize the actual feather. Duck and turkey quills have large stems.
Feathers come in a huge variety of dyed colors in order to match the color of the insect you’re trying to imitate. Or, it could be dyed to what’s called a trigger color.
A trigger color is a color that some fish species will be more influenced by, causing them to strike at the fly simply based on the color alone.
Location of Feather
If you’re new to fly tying, then you’ll be surprised to learn that the location of the feather is important. When tying dry flies, the best feather for fly tying will come from the neck and saddle of a male chicken.
Best Fly Tying Feathers
Below, I’ll cover three different types of feathers. Check them out and use them on your next fly!
Outuxed Pheasant Feathers
This package of Outuxed Pheasant Feathers contains fifteen pieces of three different feather types. It has six pheasant, six Caragana, and three copper chicken feathers.
Each of the feathers is roughly 10 to 12 inches long. These are all-natural feathers and haven’t been dyed in the slightest bit.
Muskoka Tying Feathers
This sift hackle is extremely versatile. You can use it for just about everything, depending on what you want to tie or how you plan on fishing the flies.
The Muskoka Tying Feathers pack contains three neck and breast pieces. The color schemes are grizzly, red, and brown. All of these feathers contain very thin quills, making them great for beginners and easy to wrap.
Creative Angler Marabou
These feathers come in thirteen different colors, so you’ll be able to tie just about any fly in any color that you want. They’re ideal for tying Wooly Buggers, mayfly nymphs, and baitfish imitations for both fresh and salt water.
Creative Angler Marabou is both soft and highly mobile, making them ideal for trying flies. Regardless of experience level, you won’t have too many issues when working with this material.
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Table of Contents
- Fly Tying Materials
- What Is a Fly Tying Feather?
- When to Use a Feather When Tying Flies
- Types of Fly Tying Feathers
- Fly Tying Tutorials
- What Makes a Good Fly Tying Feather?
- Fly Tying Tools
- Best Fly Tying Feathers
Feathers are incredibly important in the world of fly tying. They can give your fly the life it needs to look exactly like the forage of your target species. Without them, it could lead to an unsuccessful day on the water.
With the information above, you hopefully now have enough info to go out and find some feathers for your own flies. So, drop on by your local fly shop and pick some up!