Feathers for fishing
QAt a recent country show, on a stand selling fly-fishing equipment, I saw several packets of feathers intended for fly-tying. Some of the packets said they were ‘cockerel capes’ but, although I know some breeds of chickens have beautiful feathers, I’ve never seen any of similar bright colours. What breed might they have been?
AJeremy Hobson said: Feathers from many birds form the basis of flies tied to catch trout and salmon. Tiny strands of pheasant tail feathers make up the ‘pheasant tail nymph’, for example, and the hue and hurl of peacock feathers are the perfect imitation body of an iridescent water-based insect. The main idea of fly-tying is to imitate an insect likely to be of feeding interest to a fish.
Chicken feathers are also frequently used in fly-tying (many are picked up after the moult and don’t require a bird to be killed). Without seeing the feathers to which you refer, it’s impossible to say from what breeds of chickens the capes you mention might have come. It is, however, quite likely that they may have been dyed and were originally white.