Whiting American Hackle is awesome. It is a super diverse product, giving the streamer tyer a great volume of feathers ranging in size, shape, colour, and type. A single saddle will have standard neck hackle in the 2” range right up to 8-9” covering Wooly Buggers to Musky flies. The fly in this article uses the American Hackle to create a blade like baitfish pattern that is super swimmy. It’s a fun one to fish.
Step 1: Spin up the back section to your fly and set it aside. For this one, I’m using an Ahrex TP605 #1. Take 2 saddle feathers and align them with the concave side together. When you have the length you want, pull back the rest of the feather creating a “V” and secure them to the top of the shank. I will trim one feather and then palmer the remaining one into the fluff just to start the profile and eliminate gaps. Then palmer up the reflector flash just about up to the eye and tie off. I will then tie in an over wing using ice wing. Take a pinch from the bag, tie it in, fold back and lash down. If you are not happy with the taper, trim it till you’re happy.
Step 2: Connect the back to the front and prevent future hand stabbings by securing the back with your hook retainer (now available from Renzetti on all Traveler and Clouser vise models). For the front hook I am using an Ahrex TP615 #1/0. I am using Beadalon 0.46 wire and 2x 6mm beads for this connection.
Step 3: Create a junction collar by using 2 tones of Ice wing. I tie in the bottom clump first by tying it in at the midpoint of the clump, reversing it back and securing. I then do the same on top making sure to get full coverage around the back hook. Then I will trim about ¼ of the way into the back hook.
Step 4: Palmer up some more reflector flash leaving about ¼ of the shank for the head. Then create an over wing with ice wing similar to step 1 and cut a taper into the front 3rd of the back hook. You are looking for a seamless body without a substantial gap.
Step 5: Create the head of the fly to your liking making use of the ¼ shank that you have left open. Use your own creativity here. You can create the head by tying in top and bottom clumps of laser dub until you reach the eye of the hook, or you can also try any variety of coarse RD brush. The finished fly below uses a 2” RD Baitfish Flash Brush, however my originals were done with stacked laser dub. I always start this one with a red hotspot.
Step 6: Once the head is done, tie off and you are now ready for the only hard part of the fly. Mounting and securing the front feathers can be tricky but it is truly what makes this fly really move. Select 2 more feathers from the saddle on the larger side, ensuring that the tips will extend to the back half of the back section. Size them up and strip off the excess. I have tried multiple ways of doing this but have found that the easiest way to do it without getting feather twist is to align the feather where you want it along the side of the fly and then tack it to the head material with some UV resin. Then repeat on the other side. Once that’s done, take your eyes and glue them onto the feather with the gel glue of your choice.
Step 7: If you made it to step 7, I am proud of you for overcoming the pain in the ass of setting the front feathers. Now you can tie back on at the head of the fly, trapping the stems as you do it, then trim the stem and tie off again.
Step 8: Hit the head with softex or a thin UV resin to create the head shape. Sometimes here I will dip the head of the fly to the back of the eyes in the jar and quickly remove. UV resin can be just as effective here. This is done to create some buoyancy in the head which adds to the erratic swim of the fly. It also gives you some good durability.
Step 9: Phew, you made it! Take the fly and go catch some fish!