Palmered Hackle Alternatives

by Jonathan

Palmered hackle flies have been popular from the early days of flytying and were a feature of many of the early salmon flies.

They still are popular with many of the traditional flies and are increasingly used on modern lures to impart movement on a fast retrieve, ie. Woolley buggers, Damsel nymphs  and Yellow dancers.

There are two ways of tying in and securing the hackles on palmered flies. Both are equally effective and it comes down to personal choice.

  • Method 1 – The Ribbing material is tied in at the tail end. The hackle is tied in by the but end at the head of the fly and wound down to the tail in open turns. The ribbing material is then wound from the tail to the head in open anticlockwise turns, securing the hackle, and tied off at the head. I personally feel that this is the more secure way.
  • Method 2 – The hackle is tied in by the tip at the tail of the fly. The hackle is then wound in open turns to the head and tied off.  The only benefit of this method is it saves weight on a dry fly.  

Dave C. and the Team

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Craig O'Brien March 31, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Hi Dave, I just wanted to thank you and the team for your videos Were I live in St John’s Newfoundland your flies work as well as they do in the UK.I’m very lucky that the Waterford river is in my back yard were brown trout range in size 0n average 12oz to 3lbs. I was wondering if you could help me with making a sea louse for sea trout, as I’m using live now. To be honest they really creep me out and they bite. I have tried to but with out success.It is because of your instructional videos that I started to tie my own flies.
Thank you very much Craig O’Brien

Chris Southall July 26, 2010 at 10:12 am

As a Geordie lad who recently moved to Sweden, I began to miss home slightly so decided to take up fly fishing 2 days ago, and your videos and experience are the first useful things I’ve been able to find on the internet. At the age of 29 I was thinking that maybe I was over the hill for learning how to tie flies, but your videos are a great help and massive inspiration, and slightly makes me miss my grandfather, but enough of my whine. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort of sharing your knowledge, hope there are more to come in the future,

Regards, Christopher.

flys2fish5 March 14, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Dear Dave
Thank you for the informative and easy to follow video’s.
I have found them very useful to help me start fly tying………..
I have tied most of them with varying degrees of success……
I have tried them, also with variable success……but that will be my lack of skill in fishing……………when you do catch on your own fly it really adds to the experience………..
I hope there will be some more additions to your collection?
best regards

Sgt John March 8, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Another great video of knowledge in Fly Tying.
I have enjoyed watching all your video’s and
I have had fun fishing the fly’s.
Just to let you know that i can not find this education
of fly tying any where else.
Thank you
Sgt John

john mcgranaghan March 5, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I just started to tie a couple of weeks ago and your instruction is a big help to get going.
I found that ‘English Setter’ dubbing makes a passable stone fly.

Thank You

Jim Carlaw January 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm

thank you for yourtime and effort to pass on some of your skills .watching your videos has given me great pleasure

Howard Johnson August 12, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Hello Dave, I’ve enjoyed your fly tying presentations, and continue to watch the ones posted on you tube. I’ve a couple of flies that I’ve seen pictures of, but not sure how to tie them. One is the barred blood marabou that’s tied for steelhead and the other is a similar pattern done with two colors of ostrich plumes. Possibly from the discription you might have an idea of the patterns that I’d like to learn to tie. I tried to attach a picture of each but wasn’t able. If you have an idea of the patterns that I’m talking about and care to help me with them, it would be appreciated. Thanks, Howard

Tom BuzziTom February 18, 2009 at 12:23 am

What a wonderful way to learn fly tying. You make it very easy to follow. If you are ever in the USA I would love to meet you at my Trout Club for a day of fishing on me.

Great Job
Tom Buzzi

topflyman February 16, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Hi Dale
Thanks for your comments and info.
We all clutter up our work bench and things get out of sight. Try painting the base of your threader with fluorescent paint, or get a block of wood about 12″long, 3″x 2″.Drill holes at 1″ gaps about 1″ deep in 2 rows,one row 1/4″ wide and the other 1/8″ wide. Mine comfortably houses 10 bobbin holders,3 scissors, dubbing needles and threader.
I started the suck and suck again technique years ago.
It works until you get gunged up with waxed threads.
Your idea for a self loading bobbin holder would not lend itself to ceramic tips.
Stick to a threader and save your lungs.
DaveC.and the Team

Dale Ruth February 15, 2009 at 5:19 am

Hey Dave,

Loading the thread through the Bobbin tube presented quite a painstaking challenge when I first started Flytying and learning about the aid of a threader after tying my third fly certainly made this task a piece of cake thereafter. I then began to wonder if a bobbin exists out there that doesn’t require a threader at all. One that might be designed where the tyer ( let’s say ) simply rotates the tube mechanism until a slit running the full length of the tube opens up where the thread can be placed along and down this slit and then simply reverse rotation to lock it in place. I haven’t so far found a bobbin that is designed this way or any other way but I will continue to search.

Now and then I lose sight of where I placed my threader and end up spending valuable flytying time looking for it amongst all the flytying material that seems to miraculously accumulate in great quantity on the table surface – I certainly have to become better organized in both these areas.

Now here’s something really simple ( a technique ) where a threader isn’t needed – with the thread on the bobbin, pull out enough thread that stretches a centimeter or more beyond the tip of the tube. Then place the end of the thread in to the feed end of the tube – just a bit will do , hold it in there with your fingers then place your mouth over the tip of the tube ( the other end ) and then straw suck the thread through. Of course make sure you release the thread with your fingers at the same time you straw suck. Works perfectly!

I recently learned this from a seasoned local flytyer and owner of a tackle shop – what a simple and yet fantastic procedure that eliminates the need for a threader. Thought I should pass this along if folks haven’t heard of this before or if no body has posted it already??

Dale Ruth – Fan
British Columbia

Eric Jones February 11, 2009 at 5:43 am

Dave, Thuroughly enjoy the video lessons you provided on UTube, I’m 47 years old and haven’t tied fly’s since a 9th grade class many years ago, more than 30 to be exact. Your video’s have me interested in giving it a go again. I’m not the best Fly Fisherman, but enjoy it much. If I ty my own fly’s it may not hurt so much to snag a few in the tree’s. Once again, great job to you and the team.

coff January 27, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Tried tying a long time back but these clips have taken the struggle out of it
What’s the story Dave waitin on more please

topflyman January 23, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Hi Dave
Thanks for your concern over my ‘chewed up ‘thumb. I will get some of your magic balm and give it a try. Nothing seems to do the job permanently and they do get very sore. together with my trigger finger and carpal tunnel it is a miracle I get anything done sometimes. All this must be the fruits of old age and wickedness as my old sales manager used to say.
Happy Fishing
Dave C

topflyman January 23, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Hi Paul Lewis
Thanks for your comments. Do hope that you will give flytying a bash. It is a rewarding hobby but can become addictive.
It is only when people ask for details on basic materials that I reaslise that I have an ’embarassment of riches’ acquired over 60 years.
If you buy starter kits they tend to have a lot of ‘less useful materials’. Sorry you guys who sell them if you disagree.
Vice buy the best you can afford to get started, the sky is the limit once you are hooked. Scissors must be sharp suggest embroidery style.
Hackle pliers, Dubbing needle(old hat pin), Bobbin hoder (buy a ceramic if you are serious) . Bobbin threader….makes loading up thread much easier.
Tying Thread in 6/0 and 8/0 colours black, olive yellow and orange.
Silver and Gold wire medium, copper you can get from electric cable.
Cock pheasant tail centre feathers, Peacock herl( not the eye). Rabbit/hare fur for dubbing
Cock capes black, brown greenwells.(budget range)
If you know anyone who shoots game many more options would be open to you.
Hope this helps
Happy Fishing
DaveC. and the Team

topflyman January 23, 2009 at 10:51 am

Hi David Gardiner
Thanks for your comments…….you make me blush!
The only reason I have not done the ‘tradiitional’ wing on wet flies is simply because I rarely use them. A hackled fly will outfish a quill winged fly anytime.( Now that will start some controversy). If the natural had a quill wing as heavy pro rata to its size it would need a RR. jet engine to take off.
I will make a conscientious effort this year to do a quill wing on a basic techniques.
On the rivers you cannot beat the north country spider patterns. Easy to tie. materials easy and cheap for the most part.
Happy Fishing
DaveC/and the Team

topflyman January 23, 2009 at 10:36 am

Hi Sam
Thanks for your comments. We do our best to ‘spread the word’.
Happy fishing
daveC.and the Team

Dave January 22, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Hi David,

Another gem of knowledge, thanks.

Glad to see the thumb injury didnt slow you down 😉



Paul Lewis January 21, 2009 at 8:03 pm

Hi David

I am new to fly fishing and have always wanted to tie my own flys. I have looked at a number of books but none of them came close to your wonderful videos, they have given me the insperation to have a go.

I wonder if you have a list of the basic tools and materials that I need to purchase to make a reasonable start. There are that many different materials that its dificult to know where to start as a beginner.

Thank you again for the great videos.


Paul Lewis

David Gardiner January 20, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Hi Dave, I just wanted to thank you and the team for your videos. They are excellent. I’ve taken up fly tying in self defence so that I can lose them regularly as I learn to fish; at the moment longevity is low priority; they are usually in a tree or left in the river in short order…but the tying is rapidly becoming an absorbing hobby in itself, to a large degree thanks to you getting me going. (must be saving me a fortune too)

You and your family team have done a really slick job; I think you have a natural gift for presentation and the whole ‘feel’ of the videos is really friendly and nice, but there’s bags of extra info. crammed in too, if the viewer pays attention. I like the chat about the particular applications of each fly, for instance.

You need to do a fly that has trad wings; that seems the conspicuous omission. I had to go to a (much inferior!) video for that!

Thank you again. David

Sam Cox Sr. January 19, 2009 at 3:56 pm

I have been enjoying the lessons quite a bit. You are certainly doing your mentor proud! I am a 53 year old man living in Plymouth Indiana in the USA. I started to learn fly tying a couple of years ago and tie mostly in the winter months. It has been great tying your lessons. Thanks for all your efforts.


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