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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some of the crazy things we do as fly tiers is to try and save a buck. Some things we do because we want to try it out and be proud of something we made from scratch. It's probably the second reason why most of us tie flies in the first place. The satisfaction of making something yourself. It would certainly be cheaper to just buy flies instead of the insane amount of money we spend collecting materials and buying that one more unique thing. This adventure was originally something I thought might save a buck but certainly turned out to be more about fun and pride than anything.

I bought some barred rock roosters to try and raise my own hackle. I wasn't planning on harvesting them until later in the spring but one got injured and needed to be offed so it was a good test run. Hopefully the saddle will be a little bit longer on the rest come spring.


First step was to skin the bird which was alot more difficult than just butchering chickens which I have done for many years. The skin is tough to cut through with all the feathers still on it. After skinning I washed it well with shampoo to remove some of the oils.


Next step was to scrape as much of the meat and fat from the skin as possible (which was not easy with the neck) and then pin it down to cardboard and stretch it out. I did the neck and the rest of the skin separate. I then applied a liberal amount of borax and left it to dry for several days.



Next I removed all the borax and washed the feathers again this time with dish soap to remove all the oils prior to dying. I dyed it with Jacquard acid dye in turquoise. Really happy with the dye job. Nice strong color and set up very well. This was my first time dying an entire skin (usually i just do a few feathers). One trick I learned is to gently squeeze out the excess water and then use a blow dryer. It really brings the feathers back to life and gives a much better result than just air drying. Gets rid of matting etc.



Here is a close up of the saddle feathers. Could be longer but I am fairly happy with them.



The neck feathers have quite the taper on them very wide long fibres at the base.



Wasn't alot of schlappen/cocque feathers that didn't have overly thick stems but the few there were are pretty nice. Long fibers and really long overall length.

Here is the first thing I tied with them. I just made it up. Think I will call it the homey for the homemade hackle component.






So all in all a pretty fun and satisfying adventure. Can't wait to do up a few more skins in the spring.
 

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amazing looking hackle - homie is looking real cool. I buy materials as close to natural or in white and dye small patches in different colors. Its economical and less wasteful for me this way. You've gone into a whole other world here by raising your own birds.
 

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Pupil of the river.
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Those feathers look great! Nice work!
 

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Question - are you keeping the roosters separate, or together?

Really nice job.
 

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this is right up my alley right now! I am planning to really go crazy with birdds come spring so its awesome to see someone to it successfully! I am going to get some turkeys (white for sure but probably a couple heritage breeds as well) and some chickens. my wife wants some eggs but she is understanding that all of this is really about feathers! please post up the results in the spring when you harvest your more mature birds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Question - are you keeping the roosters separate, or together?
I have 5 roosters now and we keep them together along with 12 sex sal link browns which are layers and one barred rock hen that ended up in my order instead of a rooster. I wasn't quite sure what to expect with so many roosters all in one pen either but these are about the friendliest roosters I have ever had. I have yet to be attacked by one which is not uncommon with other breeds I have had in the past. We once had a Columbia Rock rooster that chased my wife all the way back to the house. They get a little testy with each other from time to time but nothing extreme. If they were fighting a lot and injuring each other i wouldn't keep them but it doesn't seem to be a problem. They have quite a large area to roam in. This one got injured by something that broke into the pen. Left a huge hole in the fence.
 

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Thanks PGB. I remember now we had a barred rock rooster about 6 years ago, he was a gentleman, and a big gorgeous specimen. When he passed (naturally) I wasn't tying flies so I didn't utilize his pelt. Since then I've had a couple of other breeds (sexlinks), and they all have gone in the stew pot way earlier than their normal life expectancy because I'll only tolerate a challenge for a little while. I have a home grown barred rock hen pelt, nice wet wing hackles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
thats the perfect blue. would you share the dye and you're recipe ?
It's just Jacquard brand acid dye in the turquoise color. Straight out of the jar no other colors added.

Put about a half tablespoon into a pot of boiling water large enough to fit the whole skin, neck and tail. Let cool a bit then simmer until I was happy with the color usually i estimate a bit darker look than I want as it lightens when it dries. Then add a big glug of vinegar and let it sit a while longer. Take out one piece and rinse well in cold water making sure you are still happy with the color then proceed to rinse the rest.
 

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SHUT UP & FISH!
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you say you use a hair drier to dry your skins.
I squeeze the excess water out of the skin or feathers with paper towel 1st.
then throw everything in an old pillow case tie a knot in the top put it in the dryer.
works good for bucktails too.
mentioning bucktails after I wash them in dawn dish soap I like to use conditioner from the shower on them rinse then dry.
I have never dyed a bucktail though.
I split them down the brown side instead of the white reverse what commercial dyers do.
 
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