Feathers are a crucial instrument used in tying realistic flies. They allow you to add small details that imitate many different types of 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 true in 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 tyers 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. We’re going to have 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 are the evolved version of scales. Birds evolved from reptiles 160 million years ago and in that time frame, the scales of their ancestors have evolved into what we know as the feather.
Now we have many different types of feathers from birds all across the world. Many of them have different colors, textures, and they have all have different patterns.
All of the different types of colors and textures are then utilized by fly anglers to tie their flies and imitate different forage of the species they plan on targeting.
When To Use a Feather Tying Flies
A lot of trout flies are going to utilize feathers in order to give them a more realistic look and feel to them. Many of your favorite flies will most likely involve the use of some type of feather.
Most of the time they are used as the wings for a fly, but it’s not limited to that. They can also be used capes, legs for different terrestrial, 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 life you’ll be able to get more creative with the materials and get do with it as you see fit.
Types of Fly Tying Feathers
Below, we’re going to go over several different types of feathers used in fly tying. There are more feathers out there than the ones we will list but these are some of the most popular
Dry Fly Feathers
A trouts diet is 90% subsurface. So, as much as we all low to throw dries to rushing trout, it’s more effective to go deep. Grouse, quail, and woodcock are all popular feathers. A bonus if you’re also a bird hunter is 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 matukas feathers are all great for streamers.
Once summer hits it’s time to put on a beetle, 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, we’re going to go over exactly what makes the best feather material. We’re going to 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 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 not 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, we’re going to 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 that have been assorted into three different styles. 6 pheasant, 6 carnage, and 3 copper chicken feathers.
Each of the feathers is going to be roughly 10-12 inches. These are all-natural feathers and have not been dyed in the slightest bit.
Muskoka Tying Feathers
This sift hackle is extremely versatile. You can use this for just about everything depending on what you want to tie or how you plan on fishing them.
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
Coming in thirteen different colors, 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 saltwater.
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
- What is a Fly Tying Feather?
- When To Use a Feather Tying Flies
- Types of Fly Tying Feathers
- What Makes a Good Fly Tying Feather?
- Best Fly Tying Feathers
Feathers in the world of fly tying are incredibly important. 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!