Married Slip Tails

This kind of tail (as used in the Parmachene Belle) is formed by joining (marrying) two differently colored slips of swan or goose secondary wing feather. The marrying technique depends on minute hooklike projections (barbules) on both sides of each feather fiber. They normally hold together adjacent fibers in the same feather, but (luckily for the flytyer) are just as willing to grip a similar fiber from another feather.

Note: The two slips selected should both be from the outer edges of the left or right feathers; you cannot marry slips from left and right together. It is possible to use slips from the inner edges of feathers (if the concave curve is not too pronounced) but the fibers are much softer and more difficult to marry together.

  • Prepare the hook shank by winding on turns of foundation thread to the tail position. (S)
  • Select and cut off a slip from the outer (usually the shorter and stiffer) edge of a swan or goose secondary feather.
  • Select and cut off a slip of similar length from the same area of the outer edge of a differently colored feather (the second feather must be from the same side - left or right - as the first one).
  • Place the lower slip on your left index finger and the upper slip alongside it so that the top fiber of the lower slip just butts up to the bottom fiber of the upper slip. Make sure that both slips have their dull sides uppermost or that both have their shiny sides uppermost.
  • Holding the slips between left-hand index finger and thumb, use your right hand to marry the butts by gently pushing the edge of one slip against the edge of the-other.
  • Now hold the married butts in your right hand and gently draw the slips between the tips of your left-hand index finger and thumb, to marry the rest.
  • If necessary, repeat the marrying action until the two slips are neatly joined along their whole lengths.
  • Place the married slips against the hook, to chfeck the proportions. If the two slips are of different depths (shorter dimension), use your dubbing needle to remove surplus fibers from the deeper one.
  • Tie on using the "wood-duck method." (S)
  • Trim off the surplus according to the type of body to be tied.
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