For soft, mobile hackles on trout and salmon wet flies in a range of dyed and natural colours

Dyed grizzle hen capes.

A selection of genetic hen saddle capes, most of these are dyed, plus a few naturals. I started looking at the feathers and matching then with hook sizes before I had prices for the capes. Sorting through the feathers on the black cape revealed a fair few damaged feathers, missing tips and the like. Those feathers still have uses, but inevitably I want undamaged hackles.

On that black cape the feathers are very ‘henny’, meaning the feathers have round tips, and the barbs are webby from the stem to the barb-tip. On a typical plume the barb sizes taper from small at the tip to long and the base of the hackle, far more tapered than cock saddle.
The hackle sizes seem to me to range from medium/large trout wets into medium-sized salmon iron sizes. Some of the longest hackles on the longest stems could be useful on tubes and larger hooks. I have in mind collar hackles, mostly tied in by the tip and folded. The range of hackle sizes, both length of barb and length of stem, varies a little from cape to cape but in general the range is not that large, nowhere near as varied as a neck cape.

Depending on the cape some of the barbs taper slim at the tip, others, eg the black cape, give hackles which seem really thick and almost un-tapered to the tip – looking quite like some game hackles. On smaller trout wets I can use the tapering length of the barbs to my advantage by tying in close to the feather tip and just wrapping a couple of turns.

The dyed capes have been thoroughly processed. Black dyed is always a good test; on this cape the skin is clean, dry and fairly hard while the feathers are very black indeed. I can see the base of a few feathers are sheathed – this bird was still growing when culled – that portion of a feather is of no real use/interest to me and take nothing from those feathers.

I have four single-coloured capes (dyed black, white, dyed fiery brown and dyed blue dun) and five grizzly capes (natural, dyed dirty yellow, dyed light olive, dyed insect green, dyed light ginger) I’d say the colour range is more trout-based than salmon, but feathers will find their ways onto all sorts.

The price I’ve been given for these is ‘around £11.95’ which seems an attractive price, plenty of useful tying feathers in these saddles.

Price: £11.95
From: Veniard stockists.