Fly tying: Measuring hackle

Measuring hackle for dry flies can be a little tricky with the naked eye—even labeled hackles from the fly shop can be off a bit, and some of the feathers invariably come in bigger or smaller than the label suggests.

Measuring Hackle

There are two ways to measure hackle, as seen in the video above. First, and easiest, is to use a simple hackle gauge. Just line up the hackle feather against the gauge and you'll know if the feather is right for the fly you're tying. Second is to measure it against the hook. Hackle feathers for any dry fly hook should be about one and a half times the with of the hook gap.

While it's not always vital to choose the perfect-sized hackle, doing so does create flies with better balance and, frankly, better visual appeal.

— Chris Hunt


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