Tying Tips – Avoiding quill snapping

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Nothing is more frustrating that a snapped quill when you want to make your favourite dry fly.

I use a lot rooster quill because is natural. I hate plastic and I try to avoid it as much as possible. It is cheap and has unique colors and shades. Another thing : it is naturally tapered!

Being young, when I started to tie my flies I had lots of problems with snapped bodies during tying time. After talking with friends I learned the following tips:

Tips – Avoiding quill snapping:

  • to keep the quill for a few minutes in warm water – will soak it and will became softer
  • to fix the quill all the time on a tying thread base to avoid the slipping on the hook shank
  • to avoid twisted body I fix the quill using the natural curvature of feather
  • to void unbalanced tails or twisted tails due to body shaping, I keep 1mm of thread free of quill

Here are how not:

Here is how is ok:

And a correct body:

Bellow one my my dry flies tied with rooster quill.

Another idea: use different colored threads! You will increase or decrease the body contrast and you will obtain nice effects and color gradients.

I love rooster quills. It can be used for big flies but for small flies too ( down to #18 or even #20. There are all kind of quill feathers from CDC feathers, to rooster quills, mallard, hen, or any kind of birds. Natural or dyed is not important.

The nice shades and waxy look are really fantastic!.I consider that quills are very close to the natural look of real insects.

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