Problems with Hackles

However careful one is, hackles sometimes break, and the tying thread can accidentally be cut off with the hackle surplus. I hope that the following list of common hackling calamities, and the answers to them, will be of some help.

Hackle breaks more than once: It may be old and brittle - if so, discard it. The hackle pliers may be being used at the wrong angle, or their jaws may be badly manufactured.

Tying thread is accidentally cut with the hackle surplus: Place a finger on the cut thread to prevent the whole dressing loosening. Grip the end of the thread with hackle pliers, unwind, and remove the hackle. Tie in a new length of tying thread with three turns of the cut thread. Take the new thread right around the dangling cut thread, then wind the new thread twice around the hook shank to tie in the cut thread. Cut off the surplus, then tie in another hackle. Hackles are too long: Singe the ends of the hackle with a lighted match.

No room left to tie hackles in: Use your left hand to support the hook in the vise. With the fingernails of your right hand, gently twist the body dressing and push it down the shank. If this fails, untie the body, then tie in and wind on new ribbing and body material. Tie off the materials (well before the hook eye) at the hackle position. (See also the diagram under "Proportions of a Fly" in Chapter 2.) 96

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