Peacock Sword and Peacock Herl Wings

The peacock's side tail feathers (known as sword feathers) have distinctive iridescent green fibers - each fiber looking as if notches have been chipped out all the way up, on both sides. This feature makes the well-known Alexandra pattern instantly recognizable.

The following photographs show how to tie Alexandra-style wings on a standard body. Peacock herls (fibers from the center tail feathers), with their more subdued colors, can also be used for whole wings. The only preparation required is to cut the herls from immediately below the eye and to bunch them, flue side uppermost. It is not necessary to fold the herls like sword wings; just tie them on using the wood-duck (tails) method.

Peacock Herl And Swords Peacock Swords
  • Form the body, and any hackle required. (S)
  • Select a suitable peacock sword feather: one with thick, dense, sword fibers.
  • Cut out a section of fibers from toward the top of the feather, where the fibers are more manageable. The photograph shows a section being cut from a left sword feather, held reverse (dull) side uppermost. (See also the second point of Step 2.)
  • The next step will be to fold the section in half, very carefully (peacock sword fibers cannot be married).
  • First lay the cut section, reverse surface uppermost, on the fingers of the left hand. (If you are right-handed, cutting the section from a left sword feather, held reverse side up, means that you do not have to turn the section over before it is folded.)
  • The photograph shows the unfolded section held against the prepared hook shank.
  • To fold the section in half, bring the far edge down on top of the near edge; keep your left thumb ready to stop any loose fibers falling away. Grip the folded section between your left-hand thumb and index finger.
  • Transfer the section carefully to your right hand (gripping the butts).
  • Place the wing on top of the hook shank to check the proportions.
  • Holding the wing in your left hand, tie it on using the wood-duck (tails) method. (S) Trim off the surplus wing material and finish off the fly.
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