I never use a hackle pliers unless I really need to. 1) Is your peacock old and brittle? I've found some packs I had a while are. 2) Are you nicking the point of the hook? Using a hackle pliers, that's a possibility. 3) When I wrap my peacock herls, I twist my tying thread around it and wrap both herl and thread at same time. It seems to eliminate herl breakage while wrapping, it strengthens the fly's body and I find I can skip using wire. Look at my suggestion for adding a little red dubbing to the thread in the Prince Nymph thread, it works.