Hair-Hackle Tying, Techniques & Fly Patterns by Gordon Mackenzie of Redcastle
Reviewed by Terry Lawton
Hair-Hackle Tying, Techniques & Fly Patterns by Gordon Mackenzie, describes a technique that can be used for tying flies for salmon, steelhead, sea trout, trout and pike and bass bugs and produces some very good and attractive looking flies. What the book shows is that the technique can be used to tie a 'Hairy' version of virtually any fly pattern. There are not many patterns that cannot be tied as a Hairy and in some cases this modern method can produce an improved looking fly.
The main component of Mackenzie's flies is what he calls the hair hackle, the re-invention of which came about by chance. Mackenzie credits one Frank Pott with the invention of the hair hackle over 70 years ago. Mackenzie was making up an order for midnight magic sea trout flies and did not like their appearance, due to the bulky head resulting from tying-in grey speckled mallard hackles by the tip, in the conventional way. He stopped tying them and turned to some special nymphs that required a thorax made with a dubbing loop. This inspired him to use a dubbing loop for the mallard feathers. It was a success. The major breakthrough in the development of his Hairys (yes that is the way he spells it) came when tying some Ally's Shrimps when he produced a 'hair hackle'. Since then Gordon Mackenzie has never looked back and after more than 50 years as a fly tier, he is probably as busy as he has ever been.
Gordon Mackenzie starts the book with recommendations for suitable tying tools and materials, and the choice of hair, fur, wool or synthetic equivalents for feathers and the preparation of materials for making the basic hair hackle. This is achieved by spinning natural or synthetic fibres in a dubbing loop. He also described his preferred 'keel' method of weighting flies with extra weight either on top of or below the shank of the hook to ensure that the fly swims point up or down and not on its side.
There are chapters on tying Hairy trout flies, salmon, sea trout and steelhead flies, and bass and pike bugs. The final chapter of this very practical and interesting book, roughly half of it, is devoted to very crisp and clear photographs and dressings for the complete range of Hairy flies.
Hair-Hackle Tying, Techniques & Fly Patterns by Gordon Mackenzie of Redcastle is published by Frank Amato Publications, Inc in spiral bound hardback at $35. 87 pages. Also available with a soft (paperback) cover. www.amatobooks.com
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