Peacock Herl

No other natural material has as many fish attracting qualities as peacock herl. It is one of the most used materials in fly-tying, but there are a few "tricks" to get the most from this wonder of nature.

On streamer patterns which call for peacock herl as a topping to the wing, use only full, unbroken tips. Tips of this sort follow the taper of the wing, flow smoothly when the fly is fished.

There is a natural curve to the herl fibers. Try toget all the herls to curve downward. You generally want the herl aligned on top of the wing. Place the herls together one-by-one, aligning the tips, the natural "flow" the same. Lightly stroke the aligned herls from end to tip. This will help hold them together. Place the bundle (typically four or five fibers) on top of the hook shank, leaning slightly toward you and on the near top side of the shank.

For best results, keep the individual fibers side by side, or if that is not feasible, in a stagger which keeps the fibers all flowing in the same curve. Bring the tying thread over the herls lightly, so as not to twist them. Then pull down with steady, even pressure on the far side of the hook. The thread torque will bring the herls directly on top of the shank. All the herls should now be curving downward toward the tail. Take three or four more tight wraps of thread in front of the first to secure.

When using peacock herl for body material you'll need to reinforce the herl with tread, wire or tensile so that it will not unwrap.

After selecting the appropriate number of strands (dependent on fly size and quality of the herl) grasp them between the tip and butt end and tug slightly. Any weak points in the stem will break off. Tie in the bundle tip first and then wrap the reinforcing material counterclockwise (I simply twist the entire bundle using a spring type hackle pliers). Wind the herl rope forward in touching wraps. Then tie and clip off the excess material. I've gotten in the habit of using a single strand of metallic green sewing thread for reinforcement. It's economical, provides some flash, and my bodies never fall apart.