Fly tying equipment and materials
reference guide. Learn how to tie
flies for fishing and display.


Schlappen Hackle Feathers
Commercially available Schlappen Hackle
The feathers are strung together and sold in
packages. Strung feathers are individual
feathers that have been sorted according
to size and sewn together.

Schlappen Hackle Feather
Schlappen Hackle Feather
This feather is about seven inches long

(Rooster Saddle Hackle Feathers)
Schlappen feathers could almost be in a category by themselves, but are considered to be hackle in the strictest sense. The stems are long and thin with dense barbs. The barbs are married throughout the feather, with the exception of the lower downy barbs, and are more clumpy compared to the barbs on strung hackle. Schlappen hackle feathers provide movement in the water and can add bulk for a more pronounced profile.

Schlappen hackle feathers are available at most fly tying shops and sold in a wide range of colors. Schlappen hackle feathers sold commercially are usually sorted according to length and strung together. The package will probably state the length of the schlappen feathers on the label. Most fly tyers have several packages of different colors, but a beginner will start their favorite color and when tying new patterns can purchase additional colors. Our local fly shop keeps over thirty different colors in stock. The prices are reasonable per pack, but can add up over time and with the wide selection of colors can prove tempting.

When choosing a schlappen hackle a simple inspection should quickly determine the feather suitability for the hook size and style of fly you are tying.

Schlappen Feathet
Schlappen Hackle Feather
The downy barbs towards the base of the
stem have been stripped away.

After selecting a suitable feather strip away the downy barbs from the lower section of the stem. You will notice the remaining barbs are longer towards the base and shorter towards the tip of the schlappen feather. To determine the proper length of the hackle barbs needed for the fly design and hook size, just stroke the barbs back so they stand straight out as in the above image, then hold the feather up to the hook and visually check the length of barbs. If they are too long, then use barbs closer towards the feather tip or a smaller feather.

Feather Quality Stress Marks
Stress marks on a feather

Avoid feathers with stress marks or missing barbs. The above feather is a worst case situation. Besides stress marks there are missing barbs. The missing barbs could be from an insect infestation

Schlappen vs Strung Hackle Compare
Schlappen compared to a Strung Hackle Feather.
It is easy to dee the difference between the feathers,
with the schlappen being thicker and more webby
than the strung hackle feather.

Schlappen hackle and strung hackle are sometimes similar and could be confused by beginner fly tyers, but when compared side by side the differences are obvious. Strung hackle will generally be from the lower neck of a rooster, while schlappen is from the rump area of the rooster situated along both sides of the tail. Strung hackle feathers are generally more glossy and the barbs are stiffer and less clumpy than schlappen feathers.

Description and uses for strung hackle feathers. Can sometimes be confused with schlappen feathers.

Schlappen Hackle Feather still on the saddle.
These tend to be longer and more clumpy than
most commercially available schlappen feathers.

Schlappen hackle feathers are usually strung together and sold in packages, but you might find some schlappen hackle feathers when buying a complete rooster saddle. We have found schlappen feathers when buying complete rooster saddles that were over 12 inches long.

Schlappen feathers were considered garbage feathers in past generations, but have gained popularity and are available at most fly tying shops in a wide variety of colors.

Purple Wing Steelhead Fly
Purple Wing Solstice Steelhead Fly
Purple schlappen hackle was used for the beard
and under wings also help to support the main
set of goose feathers wings.

With this design we wrapped and palmered schlappen hackle on the hook to serve both as a beard and as an under wing helping to support the main goose feather wings. Variants include stroking the schlappen downward as a dedicated beard and using purple squirrel tail for the under wings, while other variants include adding a hackle throat or a golden pheasant crest topping.

Recipe and directions for tying the Purple Wing
Solstice Steelhead Fly.

Red Wing Blackbird Steelhead Fly
"Red Wing Blackbird" Steelhead Fly
Black schlappen used for the beard and
under wings also help to support the main
set of married feather wings.

Recipe and instructions for tying a Red Wing Black Bird Steelhead Fly pattern.

Grizzly Schlappen Hackle Feathers

Whiting 10-14 inch schlappen bundles are some of the longest and one of the few companies that offer grizzle schlappen feathers.

Schlappen can also be used for spey fly hackle, but tends to be more clumpy when in the water. To help achieve the desired effect of spey fly hackle, burning the feathers with beach will prevent the barbs from marrying together, thus eliminating the clumpy effect associated with schlappen. Also stripping the barbs from one side of the feather stem can help create a better spey fly hackle effect.

The term "Strung" is the process of somebody sitting there and sorting out the feathers according to length and sewing the base of the quills together.

Selection of Chicken Hackle Feathers
1. Rooster Saddle Feather
2. Rooster Cape Feather
3. Hen Saddle Feather
4. Hen Cape Feather
5. Strung Hackle Feather
6. Schlappen Hackle Feather

Detailed description of a feather

henry Hoffman
Henry Hoffman at the 2013 NW Fly Tyers
and Fishing Expo. Henry Hoffman was one
of the pioneers in the development of modern
day hackle and is a true legend.

Modern day hackle feathers are almost exclusively from domestically raised birds that have been selectively bred for their color and characteristics. The fly tyers from fifty years ago would be amazed at the hackle available today.

Hackle Pliers
Pair of basic hackle pliers with non-skid jaws

There are people who never use hackle pliers but most fly tiers will have a pair and put them to good use.

Tarzana Steel Head Fly
This steelhead fly uses the tips of bleached
grizzly hackle feathers for the under wing
and black schlappen for the beard.

Recipe and instructions for tying a Tarzana Steelhead Fly pattern.

Streamer Fly with Schlappen Feather Wings

Schlappen feathers could be used for wings on a streamer fly, but generally strung hackle is better suited for streamer wing applications.

General overview concerning the cleaning and storage of feathers

When buying complete bird skins, the skin should be stretched flat and scrapped clean of any residue.

Commercially available bird skins and feathers bought in a fly tying shop will be clean and have uniform color when dyed. If acquiring bird skins and feathers from other sources then precautions should to be taken to avoid insects or other pests that could infest your fly tying supplies.

flytyinginstruction does not advertise or endorse individual brand names. Any company names used or shown in any image are for reference or in the case of photos would be what we had laying around and not intended for promotional solicitation
. We do not sell fly tying hackle and this page is for informational purpose only.

Fly tying equipment and materials
reference guide. Learn how to tie
flies for fishing and display.

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