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Artistic view of a Male Pteronarcys californica (Pteronarcyidae) (Giant Salmonfly) Stonefly Adult from the Gallatin River in Montana
Salmonflies
Pteronarcys californica

The giant Salmonflies of the Western mountains are legendary for their proclivity to elicit consistent dry-fly action and ferocious strikes.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Flyman2
Posts: 5
Flyman2 on Apr 3, 2015April 3rd, 2015, 3:35 am EDT
I'm currently tying woolly buggers and I was curious as to where most of youget the body hackle used on something like a woolly bugger. Which part of the Hen do you get it from? Maybe it varies a lot from person to person

thanks,
Derek
RleeP
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Apr 3, 2015April 3rd, 2015, 4:49 am EDT
Hi Derek..

The palmered or body hackle on a Bugger does not necessarily have to come from a hen. Actually, rooster neck or saddle feathers are probably preferable in most cases. Unless you are buying expensive high end hen necks, most of the hen neck feathers do not have enough wraps in them to fully hackle a decent size Bugger.

Probably the most important attributes you are looking for in wooly bugger hackle are overall feather length and barbule length (or overall feather width. The longer feather allows you to make more wraps around the body and makes a nicer (and probably more effective) fly and the proper width or barbule length is important to overall fly appearance in the water.

If you have some lower quality dry fly necks in the color you need, try using a feather from one of them. Tie it in by the tip so that the larger, more webby portion of the feather is being wrapped around the front of the fly body.

I think you'll like the results..

Best,

Lee

Kschaefer3
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Apr 3, 2015April 3rd, 2015, 6:07 am EDT
I like the wider, webbier feathers from a dry fly neck, or I like the Whiting Bugger packs.
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Apr 3, 2015April 3rd, 2015, 6:11 am EDT
Hello Derek.

Rleep wrote;

The palmered or body hackle on a Bugger does not necessarily have to come from a hen. Actually, rooster neck or saddle feathers are probably preferable in most cases.


You know opinions are like you know what_____ everyone has one!

I tend to friendly disagree with this opinion. I prefer, and I would bet many professional fly tiers would have similar thoughts, that a very webby hen neck is going to give you the most hackle barbule movement on your woolly bugger. Additionally, and to many tiers, the wet fly neck, and not a saddle, is going to be less expensive than a cock bird saddle which is primarily used for dry flies due to the inherent stiffness of the hackle barbules.

I love saddles for dry flies because the barbule length is quite constantly the same length throughout much of the feather. But for buggers or many wet flies with palmered hackle I prefer a neck cape because the hackle barbules are of greatly varying lengths from the very tip to the very base.

When I tie my buggers I try and find the longest and webbiest feather, especially the barbules on the bottom half of the feather. Then I tie in a piece of gold wire (but it can be gold or silver tinsel, or thread, or a strand of Krystal flash, then I tie in the webby hackle feather tip first, then strip off some of the fluff from a piece of chenille and tie that in. Now wind the chenille to about an eye length from the eye wind the hackle towards the eye and tie off, now take you ribbing material and counter wrap it through the hackle and tie off. The rib will protect the delicate hackle stem from a trout's teeth and the hackle won't unravel if a trout's teeth break it and counter wrapping it makes the rib cross the hackle stem rather than just laying parallel to it which won't give you the same effect.

See the soft palmered hackle;


Most of these buggers are variants called Egg Sucking Leeches. Observe the soft appearing, back swept hackle barbules. They will undulate and quiver much easier in the water than a rooster hackle.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Flyman2
Posts: 5
Flyman2 on Apr 3, 2015April 3rd, 2015, 6:36 pm EDT
Thanks for the thoughts.I'm new to this. What exactly do you mean by the "webbier" part of the feather?
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Apr 3, 2015April 3rd, 2015, 6:49 pm EDT
The word "webby" relative to fly tying means (to me) that the barbules of the hackle are going to be very soft (compared to dry fly hackle which is very stiff) Soft means when you bend the feather and touch the barbules they will bend very easily. You want the feathers on your wet flies to be soft and supple so the current will allow the feathers to undulate and look life like so the fish will eat the fly. If you PM me your mailing address I will send you a sample of a very webby feather that I would use for a woolly bugger and also a very stiff feather I would use for a dry fly so you can see the difference. I'll label each one for you.

Check out this web site it has good pictures of all kinds of feathers.

http://www.featheremporium.com/Fly-Tying-Feathers/spey-hackles.html
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Apr 3, 2015April 3rd, 2015, 7:01 pm EDT
Look in to Schlappen.
"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
RleeP
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Apr 4, 2015April 4th, 2015, 5:41 am EDT
Everything you suggest is doctrinally sound, Matt, and I wouldn't argue any of it.

I've always been more interested in what will work than what is doctrinally correct. To me, this distinction is one of the major differences between tying as an art form and tying to catch fish. I'm also inherently cheap..:) So, when I answer a question like this, I tend to think in terms of what I have that might work more than what I can buy what will put me in line with doctrine and conventional wisdom.

Everybody hears their own drummer. That's mine.

I also have dozens of old India necks and pre-Metz/Whiting/Collins/CQH/whatever domestic rooster necks and saddles (from the 60's and 70's) that have piles of feathers that are really good for buggers. Hell, I may even have some Schlappen from before it was Schlappen (good idea, Spence..) I'm trying to work my way through what's left of all of it by tying Buggers and big-arse pike flies....:)
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Apr 4, 2015April 4th, 2015, 5:53 am EDT
Hello Rleep,

When I tie my buggers I try and find the longest and webbiest feather


Maybe you will be able to answer Flyman2's question and explain better this;

Thanks for the thoughts.I'm new to this. What exactly do you mean by the "webbier" part of the feather?


I sent him a link to a very neat web site that has pictures so maybe my inability to explain "webbiness" will be answered for him pictorially.

I have to ask - are you. or were you, a college professor or held some other position in academia? I have never seen this word used in a sentence before;

than what is doctrinally correct
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
RleeP
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Apr 4, 2015April 4th, 2015, 10:29 am EDT
>I have to ask - are you. or were you, a college professor or held some other position in academia? I have never seen this word used in a sentence before;>




Actually, although we are newly retired, I am a recovering manufacturing management guy with almost 24 years clean..

I spent the first half of my career in durable goods manufacturing working with production/inventory management and capacity planning. I was the MRP guy. You remember MRP?

Then I chucked it and started over in a hodgepodge of outdoor/conservation/environmental stuff from freelance writing and editing to environmental grant writing and administration and so forth. It didn't pay near as well as manufacturing, but I was a lot happier.

I will admit though that I eventually married an academic. I'm very proud of her and her career choices. You know what they say: "Those who can, teach. Those who can't, do...:)"

The "doctrinally" thing was just a little chain pulling on my part and I certainly didn't intend to score your bobbin tube. It's all in fun.

I do take a lot of pleasure though in contravening the Holy Writ of this sport from time to time and doing things differently than the books and wise men tell me I should. This is why if you're ever on the Little Lehigh and you see a guy fishing a size #10 deerhair ant to risers (and more often than not, catching them...)during the trike, there's a good chance it's me.
This is sort of the same way I approach the question of how a wooly bugger should be hackled. I do it my way and I make it work.

Like I said earlier, that's the drummer that I hear.

Let's talk about fishing, OK?

Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Apr 10, 2015April 10th, 2015, 2:38 pm EDT
I do take a lot of pleasure though in contravening the Holy Writ of this sport from time to time and doing things differently than the books and wise men tell me I should.


Hmmm...Lee...Welcome to the club! ;)

I think it's allowed as long as you have first read the Holy Writ...:) I used to have a very close friend in my teens whose nickname for me was, "Blasphemer!"



Spence
"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
Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Apr 11, 2015April 11th, 2015, 11:19 am EDT
"I do take a lot of pleasure though in contravening the Holy Writ of this sport from time to time and doing things differently than the books and wise men tell me I should."

Me three! I always say, whatever works...

:oD

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...

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