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Chevron Hackles - Grizzle Hen cape

By Magnus Angus

"I’d say this is an excellent genetic hen cape."

A top class, Grade 1 Chevron Grizzle Hen cape.
A top class, Grade 1 Chevron Grizzle Hen cape.

As usual, genetic here means ‘the result of generations of selective breeding’. This hen cape is quite large, it includes some body feathers at the rump end. In my hand this feels a little oily, there is a little fat on the backing card, however the skin is clean and a simple wash and dry will easily get rid of the oils. The feathers seem to be in excellent condition, and the skin is supple.

As one could expect the range of hackle sizes is excellent, from very tiny through to bold, rounded body feathers – for my tying that means from wee spiders to big wets, streamers, and the like. On my tying bench this is a very useful cape indeed.

The fibres on hen hackles are softer than cock hackle, meaning the barbs on the hen hackle are softer, fuzzier, more ‘webby’. Genetic hen hackles are typically ‘finer’ than non-genetic, usually feathers are longer for a given barb length, and typically more pointed. The barbs on genetic hen hackles can be quite ‘sharp’, meaning the barbs become smooth towards the tip where more of the barb on a non-genetic hackle is fuzzy.

The barbs are more webby than most genetic hackles – excellent feathers!

So, for tying purposes genetic hen has some real advantages: longer hackles means tying very small flies is relatively easy. Genetic capes tend to offer tougher feathers in my experience, so I break far fewer genetic hen hackles. All the characteristics I value in genetic hen I get from this cape. I particularly like that the barbs on these hackles are more fuzzy than any of the genetic hens I have in my tying box – in fact, on that count alone, I’d say this is an excellent genetic hen cape.

Looking at the whole cape, this looks quite dark, deceptively dark, then look at an individual hackle and the shading is obvious. Chevron offer a wide and fascinating selection of bleached and dyed grizzle hen capes, this is the natural cape, the base model for that range, (see future issues).


Price: £27.95
From: Chevron Hackles and stockists.
Tel: 01363 760090

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