Fly-Tying Hackle, Feathers & Marabou

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Dry fly hackle, typically neck and back feathers from a rooster, contains long feathers with small, stiff barbs and a high barb count, all of which help your fly float. On the other hand, wet fly hackle, typically body feathers, is softer to give the fly proper movement underwater.

As a general rule, choose hackle proportional to the hook size. Smaller hooks require shorter, finer hackle, while larger hooks can handle larger, denser hackle. Dry flies typically require hackle that is 1.5 times the length of the hook gap of a standard dry fly hook. Many wet flies follow the same rule, but you can go longer for more movement. If you’re following a recipe, use the suggested hackle length, and remember you can always experiment to figure out what works well for you. Density varies depending on the desired profile: Sparse hackle creates a slender profile, while dense hackle creates a fuller, pulsating body. You can vary how sparse or dense by the number of wraps. Orvis fly-tying expert Tim Flagler offers expert advice on understanding different kinds of hackle.

Technically, you can substitute different types of hackle for one another if, and only if, you’re using a comparable stand-in. For example, you could possibly substitute cape and saddle if the feathers are the same density and length and offer similar performance. But if you substitute hackle willy-nilly or the feathers don’t match as closely as possible, you will compromise your fly’s effectiveness.

For dry fly wings, the most common feathers to use are duck quills, goose and turkey biots, hen capes, and cul de canard (CDC). For dry fly tails, the most common feathers are hackle tips, goose and turkey biots, and coq de leon.

We offer plenty of pre-dyed feather options to save time and money, but you can always buy white feathers and dye them the specific color you want.

Marabou is a versatile fly-tying material that has many different uses, but you will likely recognize marabou blood quills as a popular tail material in streamers like the woolly bugger. Marabou can also be used on bodies (as ribbing), tails, and wings of wet flies. 

Marabou purchased from Orvis doesn’t require any special preparation before using it in your fly-tying applications.

Premium Hackle, Feathers & Marabou for Fly Tying

Discover the best collection of hackle, feathers, and marabou for tying realistic flies at Orvis. We offer a complete selection of high-quality hackles including capes and saddles, biots, and marabou for the discerning fly tyer. From elite CDC feathers to bugger packs and pheasant tails, our premium fly-tying feathers deliver outstanding movement, presentation, and lifelike credibility to your patterns. Browse our marabou offerings for your bugger recipes, or search through our schlappen or grizzly hackle for tying up bigger saltwater flies. Whatever you need for your station, you’ll find the best of the best in the Hackles, Feathers & Marabou collection at Orvis.