The "Feather Sandwich" substitute feather/winging technique

The "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 He shows how to layer two feathers to create a realistic substitute for Blue Chatterer (Cotinga) See it by clicking here.

CAUTION: 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.

1. 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".

2. 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.

3. Prepare 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. 

4. 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.

5. 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 hackles.
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.

6. 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.

7. Same process 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.

8. Using the 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.

9. The matched pair - not perfect yet better than none at all.

10. The substitute 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