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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

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.

Flytyerinpa
Flytyerinpa's profile picture
Pottsville Pa

Posts: 36
Flytyerinpa on Sep 20, 2016September 20th, 2016, 1:39 pm EDT
I've been thinking of buying a Whiting Gold Grade Saddle, I'm just not sure what color or size, I'm from eastern PA. possible a med.blue dun ? hoping I can get some input from some of the guys in the group.
Martinlf
Martinlf's profile picture
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Sep 22, 2016September 22nd, 2016, 3:59 pm EDT
I'm not sure saddles come in sizes, but you can't go wrong with a Whiting Gold if you can afford it. Medium dun is a great all around color for many flies.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Jmd123
Jmd123's profile picture
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2474
Jmd123 on Sep 22, 2016September 22nd, 2016, 6:13 pm EDT
I lucked out a few years ago downstate when my local Orvis shop had two Whiting Gold capes, one black and one white, for half-price. I couldn't pass that up!! They are worth the money no matter what you spend on them - all sizes of hackle and nice long web-free feathers, sometimes you can tie two or three flies with one hackle! And as Louis says, medium dun, essentially medium grey, is a very common color for many dry flies (Hendricksons and Red Quills come to mind, grey EHCs, Iso's, etc.). You will get a LOT of use from a Whiting Gold in medium dun.

Jonathon
No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
RleeP
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
RleeP on Sep 24, 2016September 24th, 2016, 9:06 am EDT
Med dun is good color to invest in if you're going to buy a high end saddle like that. Not only (as Louis said..) does it have many applications, but it's always been my experience that (in natural undyed necks and saddles, anyway) that there is a color-related quality norm that is higher in natural say, brown or grizzly hackle and lower in natural duns and blacks. While a lot (or maybe all..) of this has been equalized of late compared to the days when Metz was the only major HQ provider, to me it basically always meant between a natural brown and a natural dun neck/saddle of the same grade, the brown was always better, especially in terms of barbule stiffness and density which means better dry fly hackle.

Like I say, I may be 20 years behind and none of this is true any more. But it was at one time. Which is why at least some of the HQ dun being currently offered is dyed cream, ginger variant or light grizzly.

For what it's worth....:)

TNEAL
GRAYLING. MICHIGAN

Posts: 278
TNEAL on Sep 24, 2016September 24th, 2016, 1:21 pm EDT
Saddles generally run for the most part in two sizes. Determine which two sizes you use the most and then call your merchant and ask them if they can provide a saddle that fits your needs. Otherwise you may get a great saddle that you don't have that much use for.
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Sep 26, 2016September 26th, 2016, 9:05 am EDT
Go online to Jim's Fly Shop at the Campfire Lodge in MT...Look at the famous "Wall of Hackle"...They are nice folk there and will give you the straight skinny on what's what if you give them a call...Great hen sets as well if you are tying any softhackles...

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
Flytyerinpa
Flytyerinpa's profile picture
Pottsville Pa

Posts: 36
Flytyerinpa on Sep 27, 2016September 27th, 2016, 9:40 am EDT
I've heard of soft hackles Spence, but I've never tied any or fished with them, there are not many fly fishermen around here I know of 2 and they are both die-hard dry fly fishermen not any help, I'm trying to learn to be an all around fishermen wets, drys, nymphs, soft hackles and streamers.
Wiflyfisher
Wiflyfisher's profile picture
Wisconsin

Posts: 622
Wiflyfisher on Sep 28, 2016September 28th, 2016, 4:44 pm EDT
Go online to Jim's Fly Shop at the Campfire Lodge in MT...Look at the famous "Wall of Hackle"...They are nice folk there and will give you the straight skinny on what's what if you give them a call...Great hen sets as well if you are tying any softhackles...

Spence

+1

I just got back from 2 weeks at Campfire Lodge (http://www.campfirelodgewestyellowstone.com/Madison-River-fly-shop.asp) and in the fly shop Jim has a lot of saddles. I prefer the Whiting rooster capes because you get all the sizes, not just one or two sizes like in Whiting saddles.

Personally I think Whiting Farm's Bronze and Silver capes/saddles are more than adequate for all my dry flies.

This is for Spence...



Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Sep 29, 2016September 29th, 2016, 8:03 am EDT
When I was in my formative fly tying years I used to only buy Metz rooster capes. I agree there are a bit more variation in the sizes of flies that you can tie but once you get below that sweet spot about 3" - 4" down from the very top of the neck the feathers are so long and webby that they are only good for folded hackle legs and beards or palmering hackles on woolly Buggers or making streamer wings. I will admit though that on good to very good capes, on the sides of the capes, you can usually find short hackles with very stiff barbs which are great for tailing dry flies. I guess they are called "spade" feathers but I'm not positive.

As I grew older and refined both my fly fishing and hence my fly tying I realized that 90% of all my dry fly tying was in sizes #14 - #20. So I stopped buying rooster capes and started buying the saddles only. I always would buy either the #1 or #2 grade. The feathers are 6"- 8" long and I can tie 4- 6 flies minimum from each feather. One saddle each in sizes #12 - #16 and #18 - #22 will cover almost all of my dry fly work. I don't have a zillion colors and still catch at least as many fish as the next guy. I have saddles in medium dun, light dun, honey dun, cream, grizzly, coachmen brown. You can either buy the entire saddle, a half, or a quarter. Or if you have a tying buddy you can buy the complete saddle and carefully turn in over skin side up and cut it in half with a razor blade.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Sep 29, 2016September 29th, 2016, 3:01 pm EDT
Nice fish, John. Glad you had a good time, but you would really have to work at it to have a bad time. :)

Matt. Too bad, when you and I started, they didn't have those mix and match packs of hackle. I saw some at the show last spring with three different colors in them. A great deal for someone just starting out.

I still have some Metz necks with the spade hackle on the sides. I'm hording it.

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
TNEAL
GRAYLING. MICHIGAN

Posts: 278
TNEAL on Sep 30, 2016September 30th, 2016, 1:34 pm EDT
Good perspective from Matt. Here's a somewhat humorous "warning" about cutting the saddle in half with a razor blade. Some years ago, a friend bought a saddle at a TU function auction and graciously donated it to myself and Jerry Regan, the keeper of old AuSable (Mi) patterns. We got out a ruler and carefully measured it in several different ways to make certain we were cutting it exactly in half. Project complete: what we didn't consider was the fact that the feathers are not necessarily evenly spaced on the hide. One half ended up with 2/3 to 3/4of the feathers. Another factor was we had had a bit of scotch before doing the surgery, but I'm pretty sure we got an accurate measurement.
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Sep 30, 2016September 30th, 2016, 1:56 pm EDT
Another factor was we had had a bit of scotch before doing the surgery, but I'm pretty sure we got an accurate measurement.


Right?! ;)

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
Wiflyfisher
Wiflyfisher's profile picture
Wisconsin

Posts: 622
Wiflyfisher on Sep 30, 2016September 30th, 2016, 2:53 pm EDT
When I was in my formative fly tying years I used to only buy Metz rooster capes. I agree there are a bit more variation in the sizes of flies that you can tie but once you get below that sweet spot about 3" - 4" down from the very top of the neck the feathers are so long and webby that they are only good for folded hackle legs and beards or palmering hackles on woolly Buggers or making streamer wings. I will admit though that on good to very good capes, on the sides of the capes, you can usually find short hackles with very stiff barbs which are great for tailing dry flies. I guess they are called "spade" feathers but I'm not positive.

As I grew older and refined both my fly fishing and hence my fly tying I realized that 90% of all my dry fly tying was in sizes #14 - #20. So I stopped buying rooster capes and started buying the saddles only. I always would buy either the #1 or #2 grade. The feathers are 6"- 8" long and I can tie 4- 6 flies minimum from each feather. One saddle each in sizes #12 - #16 and #18 - #22 will cover almost all of my dry fly work. I don't have a zillion colors and still catch at least as many fish as the next guy. I have saddles in medium dun, light dun, honey dun, cream, grizzly, coachmen brown. You can either buy the entire saddle, a half, or a quarter. Or if you have a tying buddy you can buy the complete saddle and carefully turn in over skin side up and cut it in half with a razor blade.

Matt, I can't comment on today's Metz saddles, but Whiting's saddles today are more like 11" to 14" long feathers and in 2 hackle sizes.

I looked at an awesome Whiting full Midge saddle out at Campfire Lodge but I decided I would not come close to using 1/3 of all those saddle hackles in my lifetime.

Your color selection is right on for what is needed.

Why I was looking at the Whiting Midge saddle... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGMr-ex_OVM
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Sep 30, 2016September 30th, 2016, 3:51 pm EDT
Wiflyfisher wrote;

The feathers are 6"- 8" long and I can tie 4- 6 flies minimum from each feather.


You are right - I guess I forgot how long they are. I just measured one feather from a Hoffman cream saddle. It is 11.5" long and the barbule size is about a #16. Since I never do more than 4 turns of hackle it would likely tie 8 - 10 flies. I've had some of my necks since quite a few years before I retired in 2005. Being predominantly a dry fly guy (for trout) those investments in quality hackle has really paid off. At 73 it is likely that I will never buy another saddle.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.

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