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The Anatomy of Fishing Flies

While you may not find them displayed at art galleries, fishing flies and the tying of them, is a true art form as old as fly fishing itself. The best fishing flies aren't only interesting to look at, their combination of colors, patterns, and textiles work better to attract fish then some of the more mass produced tackle. In this article we'll take a look at some of the elements that make these fishing lures so effective.

Hackle, or the neck feathers from a rooster, is one of the primary elements of a fishing fly. The hackle is what gives fishing flies their organic look and feel and also their intricate color patterns. Though many people seem to think fish aren't all that bright, they sure know enough to steer clear of putting anything in their mouths that doesn't look natural or like it absolutely belongs in the water.

The patterns and movement of the hackle are difficult to match with synthetic materials. When tying your own lures or buying fishing flies online or at the tackle shop, keep a look out for lures with Whiting Farms feathers-or at least fishing flies with organic hackle versus those made with synthetic materials.

Hair and Fur:
An alternative to the hackle fly is hair and fur fishing flies. They types of hair and fur most used for fishing flies are deer, beaver, opossum, otter, fox, and badger. As with hackle, there are synthetic hair and fur fishing flies, but most fish seem to respond more favorably to natural hair and fur materials. However, there are cases such as when fishing on dark river beds, when fishing flies constructed of brightly colored synthetics are a better choice. When setting out on a fishing trip it's best to have lots of different types and colors of fishing flies to try.

Thread, Yarn, and Wire:
Thread, chenille, braid, yarn, wire, and other spooled materials are most often used to recreate the thin, tight, body of the insect. Some types used are flat waxed nylon thread, gossamer silk thread, sparkle yarn, and mohair and all of these come in natural and bright colors. No matter how natural the color of the hackle of hair, oftentimes a little spark of color in the thread and yarn is what catches the fish's attention.

Not all fishing fly gear have eyes, but eyes are sometimes necessary with certain types of gear, especially those that look like other fish or small mammals. Eye styles can range from the "googley" type doll eyes that kids use in projects to silver or bronze beads, to reflective stickers.

There's no one correct style or material for catching every type of fish. For this reason, it's important to make sure that you take lots of different types and colors of fishing flies with you when you try out a new spot. Even in the same river, different fish within the same species will react to different things. Half the fun of fly fishing is experimenting with new styles and techniques and finding what works.