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Thread: Do I need a cape?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Andersonville, TN
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    682

    Default Do I need a cape?

    When I first started getting into fly tying I had a couple very knowledgeable guys advise me to invest in a couple good capes. I remember picking a couple up and being somewhat intimidated. Not so much by the price but how to figure out what size feather I should use for a particular fly and what in the world to do with the rest of them. I had a hackle gauge but was still a little unsure about it. Anyway, I never bought a cape. Seemed like it would be easier for me to buy the Whiting 100s and take any guess work out it.

    Well I've been tying for a couple years now and the question of a cape has came up again. The patterns that I'm most interested in tying are on sizes 10-14 and maybe down to 16. I mainly fish the park and I'm not really into streamers at this point. It just seems like I might not be able to utilize enough of the feathers on a cape to justify them.

    Your job is to sell me on the advantages of capes. I hoping that the experienced guys will offer their opinions.
    Jason

    jasonkelkins at yahoo dot com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Mid Tennessee
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    919

    Default

    I tie from capes for my dries. They have about any size hackle you want, so basically there is no limitation to the size fly you can tie. They also have larger hackle for tailing material. There will be some larger feathers that you will probably never use except for tailing material. You may also consider saddles. You can get more than one fly per feather, but the range of sizes is limited on a saddle. Silvercreek
    "Here fishy fishy."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    145

    Default

    I use capes and for the most part that's all I use. I tie 10' down to 32's. To me the 100 packs although good still leave a lot to be desired. Same with a saddle the usually only have a very limited variation in sizes.

    If you wanted 100's which cost about $20.00 and you tie 10-12-14 and 16's then you have spent $80.00 which would buy you a very good cape with the full range of sizes. If you bought a Whiting Hebert cape you could buy two of them for what you spent on the 100's.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
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    546

    Default

    For the sizes you list, Look into Indian and Chinese necks. You can get a wider variation of hackles for a decent price. Being the heretic I am, I found that I can use Indian or Chinese necks for larger sizes. (Sizes 10-14) I very seldom pass up decent Chinese or Indian neck. (I still have and use some HERTER'S hackles where you could buy hackle by the ounce.)

    If I need to I'll, either, use two hackles or will wind a "good" stiff hackle first then a less stiff one wound through it. I find that the hackle is good enough to float a dry, esp. with todays floatants. I do use the longer saddles for my stimulator type flies. If my memory serves me right, I believe A.K. Best uses "tyer grade" necks. I wonder if in most situations, we have a lot of tying materials where the quality (and cost) has far surpassed the needs.
    My $.02.

    Randall Sale
    the Kytroutbum

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Hillbilly Hollow, NC
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    1,040

    Default

    Jason in the size ranges you tie a saddle may be the better choice. Saddle barb count is usually a little higher, so they are a good choice for heavily hackled attractor dries. The longer feathers lets you make as many wraps as you want without adding a second feather. The bulk of most saddle feathers will be in the 10-16 size range unless you buy one graded 14 and smaller or a midge saddle. The Whiting 1/4 or 1/2 saddles are a much better buy than a few 100 packs. Even with the 100 packs you need to pay attention to the hackle size. Often one end of the feather will be a size smaller or larger than marked on the package.



    I like necks for my traditional Catskill type patterns, they traditionally are a little more sparsely dressed. The the barb count isn't quite as high, less problem with twisting stems, thinner stems, and you can use the oversize hackle for stem bodies and tailing material. I trade some of mine with my bass and saltwater fishing friends. Plus I tie dries in a size range from 6's (bream poppers) thru about 22/24. I also like the shorter feather length for tying parachute flies. Buy a 1/2 brown, 1/2 grizzly combo and try them and see what you think.

    If nothing else see me at Troutfest and I'll give you some neck hackle.
    "Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
    Salvador Dali

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
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    Grouseman....I know we have talked about this extensively, thanks for remembering to bring it up here for some expert opinions.

    I don't have a lot of tying materials, but I do have a Metz grizzly saddle and recently purchased that Keough Cape. I'm having a lot of trouble with the cape. It's hard to select the appropriate feathers from it, and the barb count doesn't seem very high. I'm a little dissapointed with the fact that I spent so much money on it, but since it was held in such high regard with better tiers, I think I will just put it away for use when my skills have improved.

    In the meantime, someone recently reccomended I buy a "Whiting Introductory Hackle Pack", with which you can get 4 half saddles in various colors. The guy that reccomended it ties some very nice flies in 12-16. The barb count seems to be good and it would be nice to have an assortment of colors for a decent price ($60). I haven't checked to see if LRO carries such a thing.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    138

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    Grouseman,
    I was in the same boat, I didnt want to put out big bucks on the wrong thing, I finally bit the bullet at LRO a few weeks ago, and bought a whiting bronze grade 1/4 saddle in brown and grizzly, and couldnt be happier. Very good quality compared to what I had been using, and they were only $25 each, and I have tied a ton of flies from them already, definitely your moneys worth of feathers.

    Contrast that with the dun Metz cape I bought at the same time (they didnt have any whiting saddles in dun), the barbs are soft, low barb count compared to the whiting, and I've almost used all the 14 feathers, seems everything left is an 8 or bigger. I guess Ive got plenty of dun hackle for wet flies now

    One word of caution though, the packs were labeled 14 and larger (thats all they had in stock at the time), and I figured that would be fine, since I mostly tie parachutes, and if the hackle is a little oversized, its not so big a problem, but when I got home and put the feathers to the hackle guage, almost every feather was a size 16! Which is great because that the size I really wanted the most of. If I were tying anything in 12's I would be out of luck though. Im tying smaller parachutes, 16 neversink caddis, and using the few truly size 14 hackles for my para-adams.

    so from a newb, I say the whiting bronze grade quarter saddle is a great place to start without breaking the bank.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Ohio
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    Default

    I have a writer friend who claims to be "Often in error, never in doubt". I guess that applies to me. So be forewarned! I would think for the larger sizes you are tying saddle hackle would be fine. In the last couple of years I started to use saddle hackle and like it for for flies down to size 14 or 16. I have limited experience with saddles but it seems to me the stems are too thick and not as thin as neck hackles in the smaller sizes. I bought some saddle hackle that was suppose to be for size 20 and 22. I really did not care for them. In my opinion high quality neck hackle seemed better for the smaller flies. Has anyone else noted this or is my experience the exception?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    145

    Default

    Usually in a neck the racius (stem) is fairly consistent in good necks.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Andersonville, TN
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    Default

    Thanks for the input guys. Lots of really good information.
    Jason

    jasonkelkins at yahoo dot com

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