1 February 2016 – Feathers

The shooting season ended at dusk today, 1 February. What an odd date to choose ! I think a civil servant must have got ‘inclusive’ and ‘exclusive’ mixed up when drafting the Regulations.


During the winter I stocked up on my feather collection. I no longer buy exotic plumage, it is expensive and the trout don’t appreciate it. Pheasant and Partridge provide a lot of material for fly tying. When faced with a game cart containing hundreds of birds, I can select the best quality tail and shoulder feathers. The markings vary tremendously between birds, some birds are melanistic other birds are very pale. Each week I sneak a few feathers when the Keeper is not looking.

I also like to use feathers that have been dropped during the moult; Goose, Swan, Duck etc. I sometimes find Crow, Owl, Buzzard and Pigeon feathers when I am fishing. I tuck them away in my fishing bag and put them in cellophane folders when I get home.

I used to buy exotic plumage because as a professional fly tier, the traditional dressings had to be followed or customers complained. Veniards provided me with top quality, exotic materials for many years but I now rely on ‘foraging’.  The only feathers I buy are hen and cock capes; some natural and some dyed to the required shades. When my stock of exotic feathers is exhausted they will not be replaced.