Is there a Peacock herl substitute?

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Kaiserman, Apr 5, 2013.

  1. Every time I tie a bug with this stuff, within three or four fish (sometimes just one) the fly is toast. Is there a synthetic substitute out there for Peacock herl?
  2. Mix the herl with thin brass wire. Tie them both on and then twist (not too much or the herl will break...just try it and you'll see). This makes a "brush" of herl and wire. Then wind the body, and never have the herl body come apart again.

    I think peacock herl and ringneck pheasant tail are special and have no substitutes.
  3. yes.

    I've used this stuff quite a bit on smaller nymphs (sz 16-20) and it does the job. I still like the natural stuff for larger (12 and up). Try twisting the herl around your thread to reinforce it before wrapping it. Or spin it in a dubbing loop.
    Patrick Gould likes this.
  4. maybe peacock micro chenille?
  5. Ice Dub peacock
  6. The short answer is no. Peacock has magic properties that can not be imitated. Imitation peacock has about as much juju as imitation jungle cock in other words none.
    Do as David Dalan suggests and it will be very durable.

    Chris Johnson likes this.
  7. I usually twist the herl and the tying thread together, then wrap.
    The herl is usually a rope I twisted up out of 3 pieces.
    The main issues is starting, which is where the herl may break if the herl and thread are not coming off the hook in the same spot, on the same side of that same spot, when you start wrapping.
    Jamie Wilson likes this.
  8. I've been using Peacock Ice Dub on some bigger nymphs and streamers and it seems to work well, but for most everything else, twisting it with wire or counter ribbing it is the way to go. If your flies are extremly fragile, think about tying twice as many as you normally would.
  9. David Dalan's suggestion is a good one. Also, you could reverse wrap fine wire over the herl body. That works pretty good too.
    Nothing quite like real peacock herl.
    Bob Triggs and Chris Johnson like this.
  10. the ice dub sub is a good one but I like the rope - either from thread or wire - with 3/4 strands of herl
  11. Yup, as noted, there are substitutes. As also noted, the genuine article has properties that are difficult to imitate. If you look at a nymph pattern made primarily from peacock herl underwater, like say, a Brown Forked Tail (what is incorrectly called A Prince Nymph), you'll notice it has a copper look to the body -- not green. When you pull it out of the water, the body once again has a green cast... that's danged hard to imitate.

    The techniques mentioned above do add durability to peacock herl. I simply always use wire to rib the material. If it's a dry fly, I use very fine silver wire.

    Most natural material patterns eventually start to fall apart if they are working. This is the reason you tie more than one :)
    Chris Johnson likes this.
  12. Your comment answers the question; "After three or four fish" hell some of us would be thrilled to sacrifice a bug to get three or four fish.:cool: Peacock is magic stuff no substitute.
    PS you still retired or did you go back to work?
    Chris Johnson and jwg like this.
  13. Thanks guys! I'm an "amuture" fly tier at best. Never heard of those options before...but then again I never asked. What's that old saying? "The only dumb question, is the one that isn't asked." I think I will have more success with my flies staying together now.

    I agree with no substitute for Peacock. Although, I may try some of those other options, on really small flies for the thorax. I'm not good enough to get the wire and peacock together, without making it look like my fly has a serious tumor.

  14. Try this then....Tie in some thread when you tie in the herl. Like thread ribbing. Then wrap your herl and tie it off. Take the thread you tied in and use it as ribbing, but wind it in the opposite direction you wound the herl. This should keep you from having files that look like they came from the Lazy H Ranch, and still increase durability. You can also try the brush method using thread.

    When making your brush gently pull the herl and the thread/wire snuggly together. Use hackle pliers to clamp down on the pair, while still under gentle tension. Use a toothbrush to "fuzz" the herl. Then use the pliers (maintaining gentle pulling pressure) to twist the wire/thread and herl into a brush. Then wrap as normal.

    Either of these suggestions (or the ones above) should have you rocking near indestructible herl bodied flies in no time.

    For dry flies, try various monofilaments as a brush/rib material. Actually adds some buoyancy.
  15. Hareline Ice Dub, peacock color.
    Perfect sub!
  16. Thanks David. I've "sort of" done that, but do it separately (herl then wire wrap) - which I guess is different altogether. As I read your instructions, I realized that I had missed the "obvious", when it came to why my herl is getting chewed up so easy. The other "obvious" thing I herl is about 25 yrs old!!!

    It's kind of hard to get a good wrap, when your material is crap! (insert icon that beats head against wall) It does okay for bigger flys, but tends to fall apart on those small ones. Thanks again for the tips David!

    Hey Eunan, all of my flies turn out as good as your avatar.... not really :rolleyes: I've tried that stuff for big flies, but the real small ones...well, I suck at dubbing.
  17. By the way, Tim and GAT are spot on about the properties of natural peacock in the water (which I'm sure everyone knows). However, it is worth repeating.

    It's funny how you learn things by accident. Many moons ago, I pulled one of my flies out of the water to change to a different size. The fly looked copper in color, and I simply thought that the peacock had faded or gone bad. I wasn't really paying attention when I tied it on, to notice if it was already that color. The next trip out, and it had a chance to dry, I noticed that it was that green color again.

    That may explain why my piece of crap flies catch fish. Maybe they magically change into something completely different once they are in the water. Okay, that may be stretching it a bit. Well it's either that, or I'm just lucky enough to catch the stupid fish all the time.
  18. Dave
    When you replace your 25 yr old peacock. Be sure to buy whole feathers or the last foot or two of the end where the eye is. Much of the prepackaged herl is serious crap. Buying feathers (herl on a stick) you get to choose the color, length, and fullness of the herl as appropriate for the fly you're currently tying and perhaps the most important part is you get learn more about herl and its different properties and uses.

    Sometimes you can find decent herl on a stick at craft shops. Ebay usually has tons. Even if you have to cull a bunch of it, its still cheaper.

  19. Thanks for the tips TC.
  20. agreed
    what is the problem ?

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