zak-striper

Gluing streamer feathers together

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Any of you guys glue your streamer feathers together?

 

I tie a lot of streamers that I use for salmon & trout at places like Quabbin reservoir. I've been fly tying since about 6th grade.

 

I've never glued my saddle hackle together before. I usually pick feathers that lie together well so they aren't pointing in different directions once they are tied to the hook.

 

However, not all feathers lie together well, especially on many classic patterns like a Grey Ghost, where you have 4 feathers in the wing.  I've read that Carrie Stevens, who developed the Grey Ghost pattern, used to use finger nail polish.  I found a couple videos on youtube about gluing streamer wings together, those used UV glue.

 

So far I've tried a small drop of super glue or gorilla glue, but I get this result - the color of a dark feather, underneath a lighter feather, will show through. In the pic I have 2 black feathers glued together with a tiny drop of gorilla glue. Then the orange feathers are glued on top of the black. Most feathers have a natural bend in them. Sometimes when I try to glue them together, that bend makes gluing them together a little difficult.

 

What type/brand of glue are you using to glue streamer feathers together?

 

20220315_100049.jpg.1caa7de27adcb6410c8a1977668e2f0b.jpg

 

This is the pattern I'm working on.

allie.jpg.bd9ca2e12212b23d525d9e49498390d3.jpg

 

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Classic patterns of the past were most often tied using a full Rooster Saddle (back of neck). They weren't expensive at all because no one wanted a rooster for anything other than hen breeding.

 

Dating back to the Great Depression and even before that, most people kept chickens and this was done for economic reasons as they were a cornerstone of their diet both in terms of poultry meat and also eggs.

 

Most of the fly patterns that you see in classic anthologies use the saddle patches on roosters and the tier would simply select a feather from the right side and a feather from the left side in approximately about the same area of the cape. Opposite feathers marry easily and so tying the classic patterns really didn't involve needing any glue.

 

Things have changed a lot obviously and modern saddle patches are almost always taken from one side of the cape or the other and you have no way of knowing whether the package of saddle feathers was taken from the right or left side.

 

Roosters have also been genetically bred specifically for fly tying now so the cost of a full Cape is through the roof bordering on ridiculously expensive. Therefore modern tiers resort to selecting cheap saddle hackle clumps that have been prepackaged. 

 

Unfortunately those feathers are never going to line up perfectly and therefore a small dab of glue might make the finished product a little prettier but obviously anytime you apply glue to a feather you're going to hinder its ability to move. Obviously the fly will probably still be effective but wouldn't it be nice to have access to inexpensive saddle patches?

 

There is a way to accomplish this. If you live in the country or even in suburbia you might have enough land where you can build a small chicken coop and get a hold of a few male and female roosters. Not only will you have free eggs but you can harvest saddle patches from time to time. Roosters will die of natural causes and of course harvesting is an option as well. 

 

People who don't want to go through the effort of doing all that can also make a contact at a local farm that has roosters and you can simply ask for the dead ones or maybe purchase a couple and learn to skin, dehydrate, flash freeze and treat with Borax.

 

The feathers won't be quite as phenomenal as genetically raised Roosters but it really doesn't matter on trout flies. Non genetically raised roosters are perfect for saddle feathers. Where they really lose their ability to compare to the genetic roosters is when you look at the neck hackles and you're doing dry fly type stuff. Genetically raised roosters have a lot stiffer and many more finer smaller sized neck hackle feathers. The feathers are non-webby compared to naturally raised chickens that will have  neck hackle feathers that are a little softer and webier.  Genetically raised roosters also have a different shape to their neck hackle feathers in that they have much longer tip sections that are all uniform. These feathers are horrible for streamers because they're actually too thin and too stiff. 

 

It's totally worth it to obtain a few natural rooster capes if you really want to make classic streamers. In the meantime the gluing option is what it is. It will work but it won't be an optimal method.

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8 mins ago, CaryGreene said:

Opposite feathers marry easily and so tying the classic patterns really didn't involve needing any glue.

Quite often I'm able to marry feathers that lie together well. Unfortunately, some hackles don't, so I'm trying out the glue option.

 

8 mins ago, CaryGreene said:

but obviously anytime you apply glue to a feather you're going to hinder its ability to move. Obviously the fly will probably still be effective but wouldn't it be nice to have access to inexpensive saddle patches?

When I troll streamers I usually have them behind a dodger which gives them a bit of movement. However, I'm trying to glue them close to where they are tied on the hook so their ends still have some movement. I also tie marabou versions of many streamers which gives them lots of movement.

 

8 mins ago, CaryGreene said:

In the meantime the gluing option is what it is. It will work but it won't be an optimal method.

Unfortunately. I'm trying to find the glue that works the best.

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Posted (edited)

Was just watching Kelly Galloup video found on the Tube of him tying a Nine-Three streamer. About 9 minutes in he talks about this stuff. He uses tearmender like Hilltop. "One of the most indispensable things on your fly tying desk" he says. "If you work with feathers, nothing better." 

 

Glues only to 1/2 inch on feather no further. 

 

He also cuts the stems pretty short to help them sit together. 

Edited by TopStriperAngler

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44 mins ago, TopStriperAngler said:

Was just watching Kelly Galloup video found on the Tube of him tying a Nine-Three streamer. About 9 minutes in he talks about this stuff. He uses tearmender like Hilltop. "One of the most indispensable things on your fly tying desk" he says. "If you work with feathers, nothing better." 

I just looked at the video. Thx for mentioning it. 

 

 

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4 hours ago, zak-striper said:

Quite often I'm able to marry feathers that lie together well. Unfortunately, some hackles don't, so I'm trying out the glue option.

 

When I troll streamers I usually have them behind a dodger which gives them a bit of movement. However, I'm trying to glue them close to where they are tied on the hook so their ends still have some movement. I also tie marabou versions of many streamers which gives them lots of movement.

 

Unfortunately. I'm trying to find the glue that works the best.

One thing you can to do help feahers marry is to wet your fingers with a tiny bit of saliva, then stroke the feathers into place. For whatever reason, this is a big help in getting the feathers to set. Mentioned as a possible alternative to having to use glue. 

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4 hours ago, zak-striper said:

I just looked at the video. Thx for mentioning it. 

 

 

Trout often short strike a streamer. Not sure about short shank hooks being preferred on streamers. Flat-waxed thread and salvia is effective for setting feathers, imo - I've never found the need to glue. Not to say it's a bad idea. I've tied thousands of streamers in my life, never had an issue setting feathers. 

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When you look at a properly tied trolling streamer, feathers taken from opposite sides of the cape are married with saliva. A drop of glue would probably be a neat trick as Galloup suggests but marrying with saliva works well also. Always snip off the butt ends of the quills in order to make the feathers easy to marry. 

 

I've often been amazed at how easily feathers will cooperate with just a tiny bit of saliva and some gentle maniuplation (which I don't see Galloup doing in his video). Once you wet the feathers ever so slightly, allign them by their tips with your thumb and index finger. Hold them up to the a window for natural light or use a good lamp. Once the tips are in allignment, tie them in. You can manipulate a slightly wet feather very easily and it shouldn't need glue to lay perfectly where you want it. This Green Drake below (no relation to the insect btw) was tied with saliva and look how perfectly it lays. 

62311656816ca_Screenshot2022-03-156_28_37PM.png.d5f750dc7db39e4ee1aa31c78c22259a.png

 

Here's a standard Grey Ghost, same idea. Note the long shank hook as well. 

62311654710a9_Screenshot2022-03-156_29_25PM.png.52edb87f0ea7087fe3092c5668733849.png

 

Here's a properly tied 9-3. That thing Galloup is making in the video looks awful. The feather tips aren't alligned. 

6231165281711_Screenshot2022-03-156_31_41PM.png.201b73c95a2a5b7f03959af79a3c5af9.png

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7 hours ago, zak-striper said:

Any of you guys glue your streamer feathers together?

 

I tie a lot of streamers that I use for salmon & trout at places like Quabbin reservoir. I've been fly tying since about 6th grade.

 

I've never glued my saddle hackle together before. I usually pick feathers that lie together well so they aren't pointing in different directions once they are tied to the hook.

 

However, not all feathers lie together well, especially on many classic patterns like a Grey Ghost, where you have 4 feathers in the wing.  I've read that Carrie Stevens, who developed the Grey Ghost pattern, used to use finger nail polish.  I found a couple videos on youtube about gluing streamer wings together, those used UV glue.

 

So far I've tried a small drop of super glue or gorilla glue, but I get this result - the color of a dark feather, underneath a lighter feather, will show through. In the pic I have 2 black feathers glued together with a tiny drop of gorilla glue. Then the orange feathers are glued on top of the black. Most feathers have a natural bend in them. Sometimes when I try to glue them together, that bend makes gluing them together a little difficult.

 

What type/brand of glue are you using to glue streamer feathers together?

 

20220315_100049.jpg.1caa7de27adcb6410c8a1977668e2f0b.jpg

 

This is the pattern I'm working on.

allie.jpg.bd9ca2e12212b23d525d9e49498390d3.jpg

 

Looks like a fly I have used on the Neversink Reservior - I came accross it as a kid in Maine. It's called an Alley's Favorite. Is that the name of the pattern you're going for?

6231207e4cb96_Screenshot2022-03-157_25_33PM.png.b3a6118869e6ffc663b48ad8ba0b7cad.png

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Some of the best trolling patterns involve sparse, well married feathers with the tips aligned. Snip the quills and then wet your fingers and position the feathers. Then simply tie them in with flat waxed thread (not round). The worst thing you can do when working with feathers is use round thread (like uni-thread). Danville's 6/0 Waxed Cotton Thread is awesome for non-bulky freshwater flies. Depending on what bait fish are present, a little white or yellow paint and a little black paint can make a nice touch to add those irresistable eyes. 

623121d4d015f_Screenshot2022-03-157_28_22PM.png.b6b10a7072035ee9c0fd56b70b2f6ae4.png

 

Old-School wet flies can be adapted into "trolling" patterns that are specifically designed to absolutely slay lake trout. This Grizzley King for example is an excellent Summer pattern that Brown Trout will pound because it looks like a Brook Trout to them. 

62312291b1bdb_Screenshot2022-03-157_33_09PM.png.433f7b2ac6bf77b7f5af1ed2e4166372.png

 

Certain flies work well at certain times of the year also, depending on if the trout are spawning or not. In the summer time, you go with more realistic patterns. No need whatsoever to glue the feathers with these types of flies, when you get used to manipulating feathers that have been moistened they tend to really behave nicely. 

623123527ae2f_Screenshot2022-03-157_36_50PM.png.eaa8dba1fb5719becbfff4f8b4cc0602.png

 

 

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4 hours ago, CaryGreene said:

Trout often short strike a streamer. Not sure about short shank hooks being preferred on streamers. Flat-waxed thread and salvia is effective for setting feathers, imo - I've never found the need to glue. Not to say it's a bad idea. I've tied thousands of streamers in my life, never had an issue setting feathers. 

 

Yeah Galloup addressed that and opined that trout don't short strike but aim for the head because a spiny fish needs to go down head first. I think he also addressed the way the feathers aren't aligned but I can't remember his reasoning. I think he also mentioned that the choice to stiffen the feathers around the head had to do with swim--having just part of the feather undulating I guess. 

 

 

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2 hours ago, CaryGreene said:

Some of the best trolling patterns involve sparse, well married feathers with the tips aligned. Snip the quills and then wet your fingers and position the feathers. Then simply tie them in with flat waxed thread (not round). The worst thing you can do when working with feathers is use round thread (like uni-thread). Danville's 6/0 Waxed Cotton Thread is awesome for non-bulky freshwater flies. Depending on what bait fish are present, a little white or yellow paint and a little black paint can make a nice touch to add those irresistable eyes. 

623121d4d015f_Screenshot2022-03-157_28_22PM.png.b6b10a7072035ee9c0fd56b70b2f6ae4.png

 

Old-School wet flies can be adapted into "trolling" patterns that are specifically designed to absolutely slay lake trout. This Grizzley King for example is an excellent Summer pattern that Brown Trout will pound because it looks like a Brook Trout to them. 

62312291b1bdb_Screenshot2022-03-157_33_09PM.png.433f7b2ac6bf77b7f5af1ed2e4166372.png

 

Certain flies work well at certain times of the year also, depending on if the trout are spawning or not. In the summer time, you go with more realistic patterns. No need whatsoever to glue the feathers with these types of flies, when you get used to manipulating feathers that have been moistened they tend to really behave nicely. 

623123527ae2f_Screenshot2022-03-157_36_50PM.png.eaa8dba1fb5719becbfff4f8b4cc0602.png

 

 

 

Beautiful ties!

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15 hours ago, TopStriperAngler said:

 

Yeah Galloup addressed that and opined that trout don't short strike but aim for the head because a spiny fish needs to go down head first. I think he also addressed the way the feathers aren't aligned but I can't remember his reasoning. I think he also mentioned that the choice to stiffen the feathers around the head had to do with swim--having just part of the feather undulating I guess. 

 

 

Yes, I watched the vieo. He actually said "Fish don't short strike..." then a bit later, he mentions Brown Trout. All trout absolutely short strike steamers and that's why long shank hooks and tube flies are so effective. Also, trolling patterns 100% are more effecive when tied with hooks positioned near the rear of the fly. Trout don't hit with concussive strikes like bass do. They don't ambush from below or behind like Pike do. They follow and snap at the prey, then swallow it. This is just a fact, it's the way they feed. That's why hooks to the rear of the fly is the rule of thumb with Trout Streamers. Galloup is just flat out inaccurate on this point. Even in rivers, Streamers with hooks to the rear of the fly are much more effective. 

 

I've developed night flies for years and on big fish, it's a must to design larger flies with hooks to the rear. Evenon my Mice patterns, I had to find a way to get a hook into the aft part of the artificial, otherwise, I'd get huge trout hammerning the fly but no hookups. 

 

I'm 56 and I've been Trout fishing pretty hard all my life. Grew up in the Catskills. Fished with many great fishermen, came to many conclusions, always for meaningful reasons and valid reasons. Just because a guy makes a video, sitting at a tying bench, doesn't mean he's right. Here's proof:

 

https://troutbitten.com/2020/10/21/streamer-fishing-myth-vs-truth-eats-and-misses/

 

In this link, the author (Dom Swentosky) says, "A few years later, I read Kelly Galloup’s Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout, and it re-sparked my interest. Galloup’s ideas were new to me, with large flies and aggressive presentations. Surely, I thought, this would improve my hookup ratio. I wouldn’t miss trout so often. But, of course, the opposite was true. I caught fewer trout because bigger flies gave the fish more to reject. And faster presentations made the streamers harder to catch. I just missed more trout."

 

Dom goes on to say, "

From our conversations, a better question developed. Were we missing the takes, or were trout missing the fly? Over time, over endless conversation, cases of craft beer and thoughtful theories, we came to understand that our hook sets were rarely at fault. No, we set fast and hard. We were good anglers, with crisp, attentive sets. The high percentage of misses were really the trout’s decision. We summarized it this way: Sometimes a trout misses the fly. Sometimes a trout refuses the fly. And sometimes a trout attempts to stun the fly before eating it."

 

He talks about the ways in which anglers miss trout. The first is the Refusal. A hook towards the rear of the fly can nail a trout even when they're refusing at the last minute. 

 

He talks about the Stun and reference Galloup again, " With larger baitfish or juvenile fish of much size, trout must eat their prey head first. Swallowed at this angle, the fins lay down, allowing the prey to slide down a trout’s throat. But eaten tail first, a small fish can become stuck in a trout’s throat, because the fins stand up and resist being swallowed.

Trout can force this head-first angle in two ways: They can swim to ambush the fly head first, or they can broadside their prey with a solid strike, then come back to eat the drifting food form with a confident, leisurely gulp. I’ve seen this happen twice on a float — not to my fly but to small, unlucky fall fish. This swift aggression and measured plan was something to see. And it made a confident believer out of me.

Sometimes trout hit our streamers hard, with no intention of eating them on that first strike. Logically, then, following the strike by dead drifting our streamers immediately after the assault should seal the deal. Right? But it almost never works. Instead, trout sense the fake on the first hit. On the stun, they realize their mistake. And the best fish in the river are not about to make that same mistake twice."

 

He also talks about the "Miss" and "Acceptance." 

 

Galloup's reasoning for gluing and how hit helps the fly swim is pure gibberish also by the way. Married feathers stay married. They swim perfectly well and stay plenty durable. Galloup puts out a lot of material and he's made some okay contributions to the sport but he's way off base on Streamers and Trout Feeding Behavior. He's also off base on many other subjects, which from time to time I point out. 

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Posted (edited)

15 hours ago, TopStriperAngler said:

 

Beautiful ties!

Thank you TSA. Easy to do. I learned to tie flies from Walt Dette in Roscoe, NY as a kid. He taught me to manipulate fur and fiber properly. It's easy to do. Regarding manipulating feathers:

  1. Strip the unwanted base of each feather and snip it off, leaving 1/4" or so. 
  2. Cup the feathers so that the feather from the right side of the cape and the feather from the left side of the cape fit togehter as two convex objects. 
  3. Moisten your fingers sparringly and in turn, moisten both fethers while holding them together. Presto! They now cooperate nicely. 
  4. Hold the feather up to natural light or a good lamp and allign the tips by sliding the feathers with your thumb and forefinger so that the tips of the feather are perfectly alliged. 
  5. Now strip additional unwanted hackle barbs from the base of the two feathers by pinching firmly and removing them. 
  6. Snip the base of the quills once again, this time down to 1/8" or so. 
  7. Tie them in ON TOP of the hook shank. Don't place the butts of the quills on opposite sides of the shank. Tie them in as one stem, smack dab on top of the hook shank. Use Danville's flat waxed nylon thread. 
  8. Use the soft loop method on the first wrap, then almost no pressure to wrap forward. Then, rap rearward with much more pressure and hold the feathers exactly where you want them. This process will 100% lock the feathers in place. No glue will be necessary. 
Edited by CaryGreene

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