The best fly tying hackle pliers will act as your third hand while you’re tying. Whenever you’ve run out of thumbs, fingers, toes, or the tip of your nose to hold something in place, you can rely on your hackle pliers to help you out.
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The best hackle plier is a fly tier’s best friend. After a while, it just becomes a part of them, and without them, their flies would ultimately suffer.
So, if you’re new to the tying world and are looking to get started, then check out below for all different types of hackle pliers, with descriptions of products and the features that make a great set.
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What Is a Hackle Plier?
The most common job that a hackle plier does is hacking. This means grabbing a feather and wrapping it around the body, shank, or post of a hook.
These pliers have a great grip and will allow you to control exactly where you want to place the feather. For some feathers, a hackle tool is basically a necessity.
Besides just wrapping feathers, it can also be used as a weight. So, you can keep the hackle taut while you finish another step in tying your fly.
When to Use Hackle Pliers
Whenever you use feathers on the fly you’re tying, you should also be using a set of hackle pliers. Or, if you need to burn ends of monofilament (like when creating eyes for flies), hackle pliers are essential to avoid injury.
If it’s a large feather and you’re an experienced tier, then you may be able to get away with just your fingers.
But for me and most other tiers, it’s best to use a hackle plier. Not only will it make the tying process easier, but it’ll also make a better-looking fly.
Even though they’re mainly used for hackle, the best hackle plier tool for fly tying can also be utilized for holding and tying yarn, tinsel, quills, thread, loops, and just about anything else you can think of. It’s a jack-of-all-trades tool.
Types of Hackle Pliers
Below I’ll go over four different types of hackle pliers. Each of them serves a unique purpose for your own tying experience, and one of them will be the best hackle plier for fly tying for you.
Some of the simplest clamps are just made of bent steel with a set of jaws. These work by putting your finger through the tool, and you wrap by moving your finger around the fly.
You’ll find that some pliers are closer to tweezers than they are to actual pliers. These are usually flat and don’t have any room for a finger to be used. So, most of these also have a ring.
Sometimes pliers have finger grips to allow for better handling of the tool. This gives the tier more control over what they’re doing, resulting in a better fly.
These look a lot like tweezers. The main difference is that they come with a sleeve that slides down. This allows you to lock it in place and keep the material where it is while you work on something else.
What Makes a Good Fly Tying Hackle Plier
Below I’ll cover some different features of fly tying hackle pliers. Each of them will benefit you in some way, but certain features may work better for different flies. Check them out and see which one works best for you.
Easy to Open
The last thing you want when you’re fumbling with the hackle on a fly is to strain to open up your pliers. Tying flies requires a lot of focus, and if one of your tools isn’t operating at full capacity, then it makes it that much harder.
So, you want something that doesn’t require too much tension to open, but not something that’s so easy that any little bump could open the jaws.
You want a set that has a solid grip that will hold exactly what you need. If thread or feathers begin to slip in your pliers, then something is seriously wrong with your pliers.
Some of the more expensive pliers have some sort of coated grip on them. This will make it easier to hold and will allow you to have more control over what you’re doing.
A set of pliers shouldn’t have any sort of sharp edge to them that could potentially cut the thread or anything you’re tying. It should be smooth, and if there are any sharp edges, then they should be filed down or the tool should be returned.
You don’t want your pliers to be too heavy or too light in certain spots. This makes them off balance and makes tying all the more difficult. Find something you can easily hold and maneuver.
You want your pliers to be somewhere in the sweet spot of being not too heavy and not too light. You want it to be heavy enough that it can hold down the thread and other items, but not so heavy that it’s a burden to tie with.
Best Fly Tying Hackle Pliers
Below I’ll go over three different types of hackle pliers. If you’re looking for the top hackle pliers for fly tying, then you’ll find them here. Check them out and see which ones work for you!
These pliers provide excellent tension and are very easy to control. They’re ideal for any fly tier.
These pliers have a great grip on them so that they won’t slip from your fingers. They also have a strong set of jaws that will hold onto thread and hackle without being too hard to open.
The Dr. Slick Non-Rotary Pliers are your classic barebones stainless steel pliers. They come in several different sizes, so you can choose which size works best for the flies you’re tying.
It features a non-slip rubber jaw and is the best hackle plier tool for tying easy flies.
Best Hackle Pliers Conclusion
The world of hackle pliers can be a little overwhelming when you first start tying. Hopefully with the information above, you now have a better understanding and can pick out the best hackle plier fly tying tool.
So, with the information above, head on out to your local fly shop and pick up some pliers of your own!
Some images in this post are courtesy of Shutterstock.
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