Quill bodied flies are some of the neatest, if not most exasperating flies to tie in the flyfishers
arsenal. They are great at catching fish, but they can be a pain to tie. Unless, you have a few
tricks to help you along.
Over the next several weeks we are going to share tips on how we can tame
these very effective gremlins. Soothe our troubled minds, and restore our frayed nerves.
Before we can tie with a quill, we must first remove the barbules from it and lay bare the quill itself.
There are a number of ways of accomplishing this task.
Some tiers simply use the nail on their thumb and forefinger to stroke the barbules free. A
technique which some have mastered after much practice. This technique can lead to some
real curly looking quills, and very frustrating times at the vise.
This week we are going to try a method that has been around for quite awhile.
Many years ago, when people were still using common writing implements, like pens, and typewriters,
there were a group of erasers designed specifically to remove ink from errant or abhorrent character
With the advent of the computer, many of these implements have fallen into disuse, including
our once readily available ink eraser. Who knows in the future as more and more paperwork is
filled out and letters written by simply talking to our computer, we may have no further use for
fingers to type with either. Fortunately there will still be flies to tie so we need not concern
ourselves with this obsolescent very critical anatomical feature.
With the use of any gum eraser we have available to us today, and a foam sheet as a backer, we
can still do a credible job of removing the flue from a peacock herl.
The best quills come from the area of the eye of the peacock. Pull off a single herl and lay it flat
on your foam sheet. (The foam sheet by the way is the same type of non-furry sheet we use
for foam flies).
Now gently but firmly stroke the herl from tip to butt and you will see many of the flues come
off of the quill. Stroke one side several times and then turn the quill over and stroke again from
tip to butt.
With just a little practice and patience you will be amazed at how easily you can strip a quill and
have it ready to tie. Well, almost ready, we still have to get them pliable, but that is another tip
for another week.
Next week an alternate method of stripping the quills, using a common household chemical.
If you have any tips or techniques, send them along, most of this
material has been stolen from somebody, might as well steal your ideas
too!~ George E. Emanuel
(Chat Room Host Muddler)