Scanning Capes.


Even I am so-called old I have over many, many years worked with computers – first with the small Texas Instrument 59, where one used a sort of assembler code, later with a  SHARP  1500 & MZ800 computer to end with a custom made PC, which at the moment fulfils my needs, which encloses  Mathcad-programming and video editing, both analog and digital. Therefore I have a laser printer and a colour printer plus a good scanner, and this last hardware can be used for  much more than scan text and pictures. I have got excellent pictures of hackle-capes!

I placed the cape under the scanner, and sometimes beside that a single, typical feather, and I got marvellous good illustrations of some of our most essential materials for fly-tying.

A Honey Dun Badger




In this way one can make ones own catalogue of flytying materials and more than that, one can make exact illustrations of the chosen materials to be used for ones special flies.

I have in my books mentioned a special incident: In May 1971 my close friend, Ove Nielsen told me, that he had ‘run out’ of a special fly  I had tied for him many years ago. At that time I had not a PC but I used my diaries as archives and I could go back to May 1963 and find the pattern and moreover enclosed samples of the materials to use.
After its ‘rebirth’ we chistened it “Light Ollie” in remembrance of our mutual friend, the late Oliver Kite.

‘Light Ollie’: Hook  Mustad 72709 size 15. Tying Silk  Pearsall’s primrose. Front-hackle. Light Honey Dun cock. Body-hackle: A natural Blue Dun henny cock wound in wide turns over the body. Tails. Buff Orpington cock.
Rib: Silver wire. Body: 3-4 Heron herls dyed in picric acid and wound around the tying silk.


Over the years the hackles on our poultry have changed – they have got longer and slimmer as one can see from the feathers below – to the left hackles from Old English Game Fowls, and to the right from now-a-days Wyandotte bantams.




” [I know that the people who works with genetics in Poultry has found the configurations in the chromosomes of poultry and are sure able to manipulate the genes and by this make birds that produce all the colours we want – here  I have specially in mind colours like Coch-y-bondhu, Honey Dun, Brassy Dun etc.].


In 1966 I got samples of hackles from the late Harry Darbee of Roscoe. N.Y. He had his own Roosters in cages in his garden and at the same time he provided birds for some of the later famous ‘genetic hackle breeders’!




Now a days one can get hackles  - so called “genetic hackles” – where the hackles are so long that half a dozen flies can be tied with one single feather, and the fibres are so short, that even flies tied on hooks smaller than 18 can be dressed perfect. But..but there is a memento: Insects are not unicoloured but mostly a mixture of different shades. In former years – more than 20 years ago – prof. flytyers had to use cheap necks from eastern countries and many times they could only get stiff hackles by using the very tips of the hackles and then compensated using 2-3 hackles on each fly. By this they got another advantage: They could blend different colours together.. Mrs. Molly Sweet in Usk used four hackles on her ‘Tup’s Indispensable: In front Blue Dun, then two Gingers and to the rear a cream cock-hackle.


8. July 2002.