"Chicken skins - even those from the famous hackle
farms - have some oils in them. It's what keeps
them flexible. You can often see a darkened area
on the white cardboard that rooster necks and saddles
have been stapled to. If this area is quite dark,
it means either there are a lot of oils in the skin,
or the neck has been in the package a long time.
The trouble is you never know how much oil is present.
I usually dye six rooster necks at a time; if you're
going to dye more, increase the degreasing formula
in proportion or use two containers instead of one
(treat saddles, hen backs, and hen necks the same
as you would rooster necks.)
Carefully select your necks according to hackle size
distribution and quality of the individual feathers.
It is very important to remember that cream-white
necks, when dyed, will always give you a brighter
color. Darker necks will slway produce darker colors.
You can only dye to a darker color than the natural,
never lighter. Thus, you dye bath can only dye
natural colors that are lighter than the dye bath.
This may sound redundant, but it is very important
to understand some of the hard rules before you begin.
If you want to dye all the necks to the same color in
the same dye bath, be certain that they are identical
in their cream-white shade. If one or two are a little
darker shade of cream, those same necks will produce a
darker shade in the dye bath as well. Sometimes this
is desirable." ~ A.K. Best
Credits: From Dyeing and Bleaching By A.K.
Best, Published by the Lyons Press.
Please check out the Fly Tying Section, on the Bulletin Board, here at FAOL too.
If you have any questions, tips, or techniques; send them to