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Tying Flatwings: Sources for the long flatwing type feathers?

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New member from the west coast (Oregon) recently bitten by the striper bug. I've just started tying saltwater specific flies. The flatwing style looks gorgeous and has wonderful movement in the water. My question is what type of saddles or necks in particular are you using? Do you have a preference for the super long Eurohackle Whiting style saddles, other long dry fly style saddles? I found a couple lower grade dry fly necks at my local fly shop that have the width that I want. I've ordered a couple Metz magnum saddles to try out. I'd appreciate any input. 

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Welcome to the wonderful world of flatwings. You can sometimes (but rarely) find "new old stock" flatwing saddles (Ken's RLS originals and then later Whiting) online on auction sites or even here in the BST forum. The best current reliable consistent source for long flatwing saddles is Keough. He's at the Fly Fishing Shows around the country, and you can find his website with a search. Unless you can actually get to a show and rummage through his bins for seconds, be prepared to pay. Another option is Joe Cordeiro. He sells flatwing kits, which aren't saddles, but a collection of materials. You'll have the right kind of feathers within and you can see what you really should be using. Again, find his flat wing website with a search.

 

Dry fly necks are a bad choice for flatwings: too stiff and they lack the webbing. Save your money. Eurohackle is OK for chunky squid patterns, and fairly useless for traditional flatwings. Some of the Metz Magnums are OK, but you've got to know what you're looking for and I fear you're not quite there yet.

 

You should note that "flatwing" does not necessarily mean "big/long". I tie flatwings all the way down to a couple inches long. Most of the flatwings I tie are 6" or less. You can see more of my patterns and read more about flatwings on my website.

FlatwingSizes.JPG.ecbc7f4fce79376eb6216d7e2628ac80.JPG

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These are Keough "seconds" culled from his bins at the Fly Fishing Show. If you know what you're looking for, these are the best deal in flatwing saddles going: big feathers, small feathers, medium feathers, and lots of all of them.

 

FlatwingKeough.jpg.33ebbb7c5845f3f80d919ed5e3c759f8.jpg

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If you're tying smaller flatwings, you can sometimes find gems in sources like these. But you've got to go through the packs and pick the peaches.

FlatwingPacks3.jpeg.7eb32c69bc8b4badd0722225355d26be.jpeg

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Last but not least, study this picture. This is the ideal shape and web profile you're looking for in a flatwing saddle hackle. Note that on many flatwing saddle patches there are often a large number of long, thin, less webby hackles on the outside margins of the patch. These are ideal for sand eels and tiny baitfish patterns.

5f19a59099d76_Flatwingsaddles.JPG.2a12e65c43b92b8f37a7bc0c5ccd7bb6.JPG

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One more bit of advice: I never buy feathers or saddles unless I can eyeball them first. It saves a lot of heartbreak (not to mention money). But I think you'll be safe with one of Joe's kits. Good luck!

 

Hope this helps,

 

Steve Culton 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

My current source is Waters West Fly shop in WA, as I am no longer able to drive to and walk the floor of the NJ Fly Fishing show,.  My recent purchases  have been of Harelin Dubbin UV2 Pastel Flatwing Saddles and Whiting Silver Grade Herbert Miner Rooster Saddles in Black and Unique Variant, which to me is more natural than dyed white.  The Herbert Miner Black has a Green Metallic Glint to it, and I have caught many nighttime Stripers utilizing this in a 6 wing Blurple Flatwing.  The UV2 Pastel Orange is a close substitute for Kenny Abrames' Cantaloupe color, although it is somewhat brighter (which the stripers might actually like, especially in the surf). I cannot speak to the modern era Whiting EuroHackle, but the saddles I have from the late 90's to mid 2000's were excelent for Flatwings that I tie. I have some Ewing Feather 'Super" Wolly Bugger packs, also from the mid 2000's that have hackles up to 7 inches long, but I am not sure they are still produced.  I second Steve's position that it is best to have the saddle in hand, but Water's West folks (Ed & Alex) have always selected excellent saddles for me, as they know what is needed for Flatwings.

Edited by FlatWing

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You can substitute squimpish hair for the hackles. More durable, better profile (more 3-D than a feather) and infinitely easier to obtain. Less costly for all the colors too. The movement is the same if not better.

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On 8/6/2020 at 9:01 AM, RedGreen said:

You can substitute squimpish hair for the hackles. More durable, better profile (more 3-D than a feather) and infinitely easier to obtain. Less costly for all the colors too. The movement is the same if not better.

But does it shed water equally as well as a proper flat wing?

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Just now, Linesidesonthefly said:

But does it shed water equally as well as a proper flat wing?

The stuff sheds water about the same as natural materials. I describe it as basically super craft fur, being much longer and thicker than craft fur. It doesn't foul up as easily as a flatwing does too because all the hairs tend to hold together during your cast as opposed to hackles which can separate. 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

2 hours ago, Linesidesonthefly said:

But does it shed water equally as well as a proper flat wing?

I’ve actually found that Squimpish hair sheds water better than a lot of other material. I’m a very loyal deertail guy, but the Squimpish material sheds considerably better and dries incredibly fast. It’s very good stuff, and as stated, very easily sourced and consistent. 
 

I agree with RedGreen’s suggestion, but I will also say, flatwings don’t really do it for me. I think the profile can be obtained in simpler ways with materials that provide more versatility. I’ll take a Jiggy over a flatwing any day of the week, maybe even toss some ostrich in for a little extra kick. 

Edited by Ftyer

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This bears repeating: those of us who have been tying and fishing flatwings for decades know that a properly tied flatwing is not prone to fouling. 

 

Flatwing saddles in a fly are not all about profile. Especially in multi-feather iterations, they are part of system. That system creates layers, and the illusion of mass. It swims, moves, and behaves in a lifelike manner. They are also used to create all manner of enticing color combinations.

 

As always, keep on keeping on with the flies in which you have the most confidence. :-)

 

Steve Culton

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16 mins ago, The Fisherman said:

This bears repeating: those of us who have been tying and fishing flatwings for decades know that a properly tied flatwing is not prone to fouling. 

 

Flatwing saddles in a fly are not all about profile. Especially in multi-feather iterations, they are part of system. That system creates layers, and the illusion of mass. It swims, moves, and behaves in a lifelike manner. They are also used to create all manner of enticing color combinations.

 

As always, keep on keeping on with the flies in which you have the most confidence. :-)

 

Steve Culton

I agree completely. A proper tied three feather flat wing is tough to beat. The pillow to set the first feather makes of breaks the fly. 
Now regarding shedding of water. I don’t care much to false cast much. Using a sink tip I want one water haul a double haul and shoot. The more the fly is in the air the less catching your doing. 
Using an intermediate line is where flat wing flies excel. Easy to get a decent cast off as the shape lends itself to putting some line in the air. 
Trust me I’m not dissing David at all. His product seems amazing. I might need to tie up some Musky flies with it. I have found it odd since leaving the coast of Maine for the mountains of Western North Carolina. Many tiers here feel the need to toss half a chicken on 10wt. rods. I’m not of that school of thought. 

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Just got my order and can’t wait to try and figure out a squimpish flatwing.  Unless it’s super early or late in my season, the cocktails just make a game of nipping feathers. 

Edited by Bait Tailer

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2 hours ago, Bait Tailer said:

Just got my order and can’t wait to try and figure out a squimpish flatwing.  Unless it’s super early or late in my season, the cocktails just make a game of nipping feathers. 

Don’t forget to bring a comb when you fish it.

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