Wing sets

A place to discuss the collecting and tying of classic flies, the tyers who made them famous, the tools, materials and techniques they used as well as the waters they were designed for. While classic is generally used to describe old things, classic is also used in the sense of first class or in the highest form. Therefore a fully dressed Salmon Fly, or a Carrie Stevens Streamer are just as much classics as a Chernobyl Ant would be. Enjoy the forum.

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gt05254
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Wing sets

#1

Post by gt05254 »

Ever wonder how many 4-feather wing sets (for casting size Carrie Stevens' style streamers) you get out of one Whiting American rooster saddle? Twelve is my average, and I have gone through many, many saddles. And people wonder why these flies are so pricey.

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Gary

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bearbutt
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Re: Wing sets

#2

Post by bearbutt »

Gary, my take is that Whiting American Rooster saddles vary a lot, but for a single hook size--say, size 2--getting 48 feathers (12 x 4) is pretty good. You can extend your mileage by tying different sizes--my Stevens streamers are generally 2-8--so the smaller feathers can be used as well. Everyone likes big streamers but I also like the small and nuanced ones as well.

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Whiting American rooster saddle (this one is great for Stevens streamers):

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Feathersets (upside down, mounted on cards for travel from the house to the cabin:
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Next, let's talk about how many cheeksets you can get out of a duck, lol:

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gt05254
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Re: Wing sets

#3

Post by gt05254 »

I, too, have dozens of American saddles. Here are two that I've dyed my Deep Green:
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And I hear you about duck:
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Wing sets do take time. These are ready for cheeks and eyes.
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Gary

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Re: Wing sets

#4

Post by tackleman »

These posts regarding sets of feathers are a great indication of what it takes to tie great flies.
Selecting and organizing materials makes a huge leap in the pursuit of quality flies both from a visual perspective and a fishing perspective.
Spending the time to go through a cape or bag of feathers is a real education in feather quality. Matching them up, storing them separated and organized allows one to have relaxed concentration with tying technique when it comes time to put them on a hook.
Since watching a friend tie this way, I've spent a lot more time looking carefully at feather materials before buying.
Thanks for these posts and pictures!!

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roycestearns
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Re: Wing sets

#5

Post by roycestearns »

Matching feathers ... a little bit art and a lot of patience. Every feather on a complete bird skin has a match on the other side, unless the bird just moulted that feather on the right side #$%/#@!
DNA is magic, every feather has it's own curve length and taper in that little bit of goo at the base. The next feather that comes in that spot has the same dna of the feather that just moulted, and will match it precisely, if it didnt birds couldn't fly.

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bearbutt
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Re: Wing sets

#6

Post by bearbutt »

tackleman wrote: Spending the time to go through a cape or bag of feathers is a real education in feather quality. Matching them up, storing them separated and organized allows one to have relaxed concentration with tying technique when it comes time to put them on a hook.
Exactly.

What you want, instead of a bag of feathers or a cape, is the whole bird. You learn a lot this way. As a tradition, tying has focused a lot on very specific feathers--mallard or teal flanks, for example--at the expense of many others that are part of the bird. Ducks are gold mines: the flanks, the shoulders, the coverts, the quills, the quill stems--there's a richness of possibility in every bird, and they can be used for a variety of fly designs: streamers, soft hackles, and as tails and wings for hackled dry flies--they're probably the most underrated and versatile birds there are.

When working on Carrie Stevens streamer cheeks, I'll typically try to pull matched pairs and mount these on matt board with masking tape. Most of my birds come from hunter friends, so they need a bit of work: if the skin is going bad, and with ducks this will happen unless all fat is removed, I'll process the entire skin, organizing the feathers by shape and size and shading and barring, and making little stacks of 10 or 15 feathers at a time. No two feathers on a duck are exactly the same: they're like fingerprints. Like Royce says, the shapes not only vary, but the twist and curl in the rachis (stem) also varies based on what part of the duck the feather is from. When I place the feathers on the cards, I also pinch the rachis to release the tension a bit. It's a very slow process. You can easily spend a whole day on the kitchen table dismembering a single duck--assuming your wife will let you, lol.

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Marterius
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Re: Wing sets

#7

Post by Marterius »

Also for more simple flies than Carrie Stevens' style streamers, there is much to gain from a systematic organization of the feathers, both for quality and efficiency (two sides of the same coin). I regularly dye teal feathers for coastal sea trout flies, like the one of the left side below, and take the opportunity to go through them in detail and sort them by hook size. I also agree that there is much to learn from handling a complete bird.

Oh, which reminds me... That observation depends on context. "Kinky" is using a feather, "perverted" is using the whole bird. ;)

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wannabe
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Re: Wing sets

#8

Post by wannabe »

This kind of thread makes me realize how much of an amateur tier I really am. I’m in awe of the flies posted by Gary, BB and others—the meticulous attention to detail, history, and aesthetic form they exhibit. Such a pleasure to frequent a board like this with so many exceptional tiers. Just wanted to register my deep appreciation.

Bret

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gt05254
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Re: Wing sets

#9

Post by gt05254 »

It is a great board, and that's why I'm happy to contribute what I can to it. I'm also glad there's this little subforum...I used to have cane rods, but they are far beyond my means these days. All sold...but I can still afford the odd feather or two.
Wannabe, glad you enjoy the place, too.
Gary

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roycestearns
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Re: Wing sets

#10

Post by roycestearns »

Marterius, that is a beautiful shot! love the full box.

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Marterius
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Re: Wing sets

#11

Post by Marterius »

roycestearns wrote:Marterius, that is a beautiful shot! love the full box.
Thank you Royce! I loved it so much myself that I could not take out a single fly to fish as it would break the harmony. So I gave the full box to a fly fishing friend who is also a renown artist and got a drawing from him in return. He can't fish the flies either, for the same reason. :)

Regards,
Martin

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bearbutt
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Re: Wing sets

#12

Post by bearbutt »

Marterius wrote: Image

Beautiful ties!--Like Gary's, and like Ed Haas before Gary, very consistent. That cognac looks good too....

Let's see more flies! We're not going anywhere for another 30 days at least--more like 3 months probably....

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Re: Wing sets

#13

Post by PYochim »

wannabe wrote:This kind of thread makes me realize how much of an amateur tier I really am. I’m in awe of the flies posted by Gary, BB and others—the meticulous attention to detail, history, and aesthetic form they exhibit. Such a pleasure to frequent a board like this with so many exceptional tiers. Just wanted to register my deep appreciation.

Bret
Same here.

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Marterius
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Re: Wing sets

#14

Post by Marterius »

bearbutt wrote:

Beautiful ties!--Like Gary's, and like Ed Haas before Gary, very consistent. That cognac looks good too....

Let's see more flies! We're not going anywhere for another 30 days at least--more like 3 months probably....

bb
Thank you! It was not my intention to steal your and Gary's feather matching thread. But I will start a thread about these saltwater sea trout flies. :)

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roycestearns
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Re: Wing sets

#15

Post by roycestearns »

You can easily spend a whole day on the kitchen table dismembering a single duck--assuming your wife will let you, lol.
Isn't that the truth!

If you want perfect matches, one from each side you need a skin. A bag of feathers is a waste of time.

Ducks/Waterfowl have a lot of fat under the skin layer. If you would prefer to keep the skin, soak it over night in white gas/lacquer thinner after breaking the fat layer with a wire brush. Wash the skin in hot water and dove dish soap, rinse and set out to dry.

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bearbutt
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Re: Wing sets

#16

Post by bearbutt »

Taking a break now after three weeks of prepping wingsets for a series of Carrie Stevens streamers. In a change from the past, when I used Griff's thick to glue them up, I tried Gary's Locktite--and it worked pretty well.

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I'll finish up the streamers later in the summer--anyone who ties Stevens featherwings, as Gary does, knows the process is a slow one. I'm going fishing now.

bb

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roycestearns
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Re: Wing sets

#17

Post by roycestearns »

Respect!
Thanks guys for keeping the CS Streamer tradition alive.
BB - New glue choice was based on ?

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bearbutt
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Re: Wing sets

#18

Post by bearbutt »

roycestearns wrote:
BB - New glue choice was based on ?
It was based on Gary's suggestion of using Loctite. I like Griff's out of tradition, and Cellire works well too. But I'm pretty much out of Griff's these days.

Loctite goes on easily, and holds well, and it doesn't take much (like Brylcream: "a little dab will do ya"). It has one thing about it I don't like much--it 'spiderwebs' with thin filaments, and if you're not careful one of your wingsets will have a foot-long filament attached to it, and when you pick up and move your hand it'll go flying, lol.

I am not sure how well it will crimp when I cut, trim, and pinch the wingsets when attaching them to the bodies. Griff's will sometimes crack and the wingset come apart during this step--so in my mind, nothing's quite perfect.

I'm happy with how it worked, and look forward to putting a wrap on these flies later int he summer.

bb

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roycestearns
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Re: Wing sets

#19

Post by roycestearns »

BB - I noticed the taxidermy in the midst ... a night heron or?

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bearbutt
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Re: Wing sets

#20

Post by bearbutt »

roycestearns wrote:BB - I noticed the taxidermy in the midst ... a night heron or?
LOL--it's a "?"-- a little bittern from the 1930s. Rather faded, but a fisherman like the rest of us.

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