Hackle is expensive. Purchase wisely.
|The Fly Tying Tri-Fecta|
|Biot Adams with only grizzly hackle|
In this post, I don't want to talk about the price of hackle or the brands that you should look for, but the colors of hackle that a new (or experienced) tyer can focus their tying around. In my opinion, there really isn't a need to have every color of hackle known to man, even though I'm a full fledged Hackle-O-Holic and I have more "chicken feathers" than I'll ever use in a lifetime.
3 colors to rule them all
- Grizzly. Grizzly hackle is among the most fishy materials that you could ever think of binding to a hook. It's mottled coloration can be used on almost any hatching mayfly imitation, and can be substituted for almost any other color of hackle on any pattern. Yes, it will make the fly look a bit different, but the fish don't seem to mind. I have grizzly hackle in capes, saddles, large, small, midge, etc., you get the point? This should be the first color that a new tyer gets.
- Dun. Dun, or some variation of it makes a great color to imitate most mayfly wings and legs. My favorite color is Whiting's medium dun, and I tie everything from green drakes to PMDs with it. It's also a very versatile color that easily blends with a variety of other colors. I have good cream
- Brown. Brown has a great dark contrast without being too dark (black), and my favorite shade to work with is a nice deep coachman brown. I don't really tie with it for hatch matching bugs (maybe except for large stoneflies), but it's a go-to for attractors. It's also a staple for tying the Parachute Adams, which just happens to be the most effective fly on the planet. Part of the Parachute Adams' effectiveness comes from blending both brown and grizzly hackles, which I also highly recommend trying with other patterns.
I remember tying my first batch of Parachute Adams with grizzly hackle because I didn't have brown yet. I was confident that they weren't going to work because I wasn't following the "rules," but guess what? I must have found some really dumb trout because they worked. Later that summer, I was tying drake patterns that called for grizzly barred olive hackle. Guess what... Grizzly worked again.
With these three colors of hackle, you should be able to cover a broad spectrum of patterns while saving a little bit of cash in your pocketbook.