False Hackles Beard Hackles

A false hackle is a bunch of cockerel or game hackle fibers tied in and spread evenly under the hook shank at the hackle position. A beard hackle is similar, but the fibers remain in a bunch (they are not spread) and are usually at a wider angle to the shank than those of the false hackle. Both false hackles and beard hackles are mainly used to give a streamlined look to wet-fly lures.

  • The photograph shows a bunch of hackle fibers, prepared for tying in as a false hackle.
  • For a beard hackle only): Place the bunch under the hook shank, at the hackle position. Adjust the bunch for length. Then, holding the bunch in the left hand, tie it in with three turns of tying thread over the shank. Wind a few turns of thread around the shank just behind where the bunch is tied in, to force the fibers down. Trim off the surplus in tapered stages. Wind a few more securing turns over the trimmed ends before tying on a wing.
  • Form the body, then tie off the body material(s) at the hackle position. (S)
  • Take one of the longest hackles from a cape (preferably a cock cape).
  • Cut off the unwanted fluffy base of the hackle.
  • Pull off a bunch of hackle fibers as shown, matching the tips. (See "Hackle Fiber Tails" in Chapter 3.)
  • Lay the bunch on the far side of the hook as shown.
  • Adjust the length of the false hackle according to the pattern of fly being tied. (For example, some flies tied on long-shank hooks have very short false hackles.)
  • In the photograph, the tips of the false hackle are aligned with the (hidden) hook point.
  • Hold the bunch between your left-hand thumb and index finger, as shown.
  • Prepare to wind the first turn of tying thread over the shank.
  • Now use thumb and index finger to guide the hackle fibers evenly under the shank, as you wind on the first turn of thread. This maneuver must, of course, be completed at the hackle position. It is easy to stray too close to the hook eye.
  • The completed false hackle. The fibers automatically splay out as shown; the fatter the body or thorax, the larger the angle.
Bearded Hackle Fly Tying
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