"Feather Sandwich" substitute feather/winging technique
"Feather Sandwich" substitute method was
Something I came up with to find a way to have a good
substitute for the unique Western Tragopan Pheasant body
feathers used in the "Black Argus" fly. It
also works well for Peacock Pheasant body feathers.
Using commonly available black-dyed Schlappen and white
Hen cape feathers allows you to create a Classic pattern
you won't even mind fishing and won't feel the need to
dive in after it if you lose one.
I knew I was on track for a good idea when I later found
Robert Verkerk and his website www.classicflytying.net.
He shows how to layer two feathers to create a realistic
substitute for Blue Chatterer (Cotinga) See
it by clicking here.
The following steps require the use of hand tools and
power tools and all risk and liability is with you the
reader. I provide the steps I used to make the following
tool – it is your responsibility to exercise care and
proper safety procedures if you choose to follow these
instructions. All liablity if any accidents occur during
or after the construction or use of the tool lies solely
with you the reader.
Go to a
local hobby or hardware store or go online and purchase
several sizes of brass tubing. Steel can be used and
keeps a sharp edge longer, but is harder to sharpen
initially and resharpen later. Aluminum dulls quickly
and never seems to get a sharp enough edge. Brass seems
to be a good compromise.
Sizes depend on the size of fly you are making. 1/2"
is the largest needed going down to 1/8". Most
commonly used sizes are 3/8", 5/16", and 1/4".
Cut a short
length - 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Apply masking tape around the
tube and secure tightly in a drill. Use the drill to
turn the tubing while you hold a fine file or roll of
snadpaper (around 400 grit is good) inside the tubing to
create a sharp edge. This part will be used to create a
round concave cut in the tip of a feather to compliment
the round convex cut on the tip of a feather laying
underneath it. The tools edge will last quite a while,
but resharpening will be needed eventaully. This end is
easy to resharpen using the drill to spin it.
another piece of tubing and sharpen one end of the
tube. Clamp the tubing in a vise securely and cut the
sharpened end with a
hacksaw or similar saw at about a 45 degree angle and
remove HALF of the end to achieve a half circle. This
part is used to cut the tip of the underlying white
feather in a convex manner to match the concave cut in
the tip of the overlying feather.
You will ned 7 feathers
per side to build a complete wing for the "Black
Argus": 4 black (one uncut for the inside pair)
and 3 white feathers, alternating colors as you go.
Select feathers to ft the size hook you are using for the
fly you are/will be tying. You want round tips that fit
inside the tail and will mimic the way the naturals are
shaped. See my book or the Photos page to see what the
real feathers look like.
Keep one pair
as-is for the inside-most pair of feathers. Then use the
FULL CIRCLE piece of sharpened tubing to cut a concave
halfround circle in the tips of the remaining black
Use the HALF-ROUND tubing piece to cut a perfectly
matching half-round convex tip on the whate feathers. Then
go back a ways from the tips of the white feathers and
trim off the excess hackle fibers. This helps keep the
bulk of the wing down and keeps the white feathers laying
flat between the black ones.
Now to build
the wing. Start with the ubcut black feather for the near
wing. On top of it lay the first white feather,
positioning the rounded tip as desired. Next lay over the
top of the white feather a cut black feather and position
it to achieve a pound white spot showing as in the natural
feathers. Repeat two more times for a complete near side
wing. Cement between layers is optional. I prefer them
natural as it's tough to control cement bleeding and the
tips swim and "wink" at the fish when not
cemented ad in the water being fished.
to create a Peacock Pheasant substitute. I selected a
natural Hen back feather and a natural black Schlappen
feather for the "eye" spot.
Experiment using the photos of the naturals as your
example to imitat. It's tough as the Peacock Pheasants are
unique feathers, but try different combinations to find
what you like.
tools, cut a concave tip in the Hen Back feather; then cut
a convex tip on the Schlappen feather. Trim the fibers off
of the Schlappen to reduce bulk and help thit lay flat
underneath the Hen Back feather.
pair - not perfect yet better than none at all.
and the natural. Try tying the Leopard or Emerald Isles
with this for a sub and you'll see it works well enough for
a display or fishing fly