Thought a bit more explanation might help on tying the knots...

Do not have time right now to do photos, but I made a living writing, so let's see if I have lost my fast ball!

Start with the Pheasant tail feather lying flat at the edge of your work surface with the feather tip to your left (rightie directions) to start. I usually tie knots in a complete feather all at once. It saves time finding the latch hook!

Select two adjacent barbs and pull them straight up and push then toward you at the base. When you release them they will probably return to about half-mast.

Gently roll the barbs back and forth between your finger tips as a pair. Lay the hook shaft along the right side and parallel to the barbs with the hook point to the left. It should be something like perpendicular to the feather shaft.

Wrap the barbs around the hook shaft and back around the near side of the barbs. I always wrap over the top, but either way works, but do all of them the same.

Hook the barb ends inside the latch, but keep them pinched in your finger tips.

Pull the latch hook toward you and pull the ends gently as you do so. Once the latch hook is inside the loop and the barb ends are pulled against the loop you can release them and pull the loop over the tips. Unhook the latch hook and insert a bodkin in the loop.

Pinch the barb tips again and gently tighten the loop. Use the bodkin to position the knot exactly where you want it. If a barb gets wonky it is easy to pull the errant barb back to match the other. Gently rolling them together, back and forth, as you tighten the knot makes every one look exactly the same.


The reason you want to tie the knots all the same is they will match perfectly with the matching barb pair from the other side of the feather. It also will help speed your knot tying by always doing it the same way.

The length of the barbs beyond the knot is critical to match the size of the fly. When tying hoppers I tie the base in and adjust it to about a 3:5 ratio, which is what real hoppers have. Because of that I make them different sizes and tie them in sets for a run of flies. I made a card template many years ago to use to get the lengths right and consistent. I have not seen the card in years... but if you are hesitant it would be easy to tie some hoppers you like and mark up a card.

Hope this helps.