There are four distinct variations of these synthetic quills, tapered, transparent, holographic and fluorescent. Being a complete fly tying tart I am always on the lookout for new stuff to try. I have tried synthetic quills in the past but found them pretty disappointing to be honest. In fact, I think the bulk of my last purchase is sitting in a drawer somewhere covered in dust no doubt!
These caught my eye when I saw some examples on Facebook tied by Dragoslav Mihajlovic an extremely talented tyer and a source of much inspiration. Toby Merigan from Funky Flyting kindly donated 4 packs for me to try out, two transparent and two tapered.
They come in packs containing 20 quills that measure 10cm in length. To use them you simply peel them from the card and tie them in as you would a normal quill. There it a little play in them making it relatively easy to work with. What I noticed was the amount of waste once I had used the tapered piece and at £2.99 a pack it seemed a shame to just throw them in the bin. I saved the thicker end pieces that may have been discarded and used them to tie up some cormorants. I think they turned out pretty good(fig1). So, getting two flies per quill starts to justify the cost.
I tied a fly last week and received a very valid statement about synthetics “When there’s quills out there I can’t see why you’d bother “. Before using these I would have said exactly the same thing, I use quills from Troutline and find them exceptional, but they have their limitations. You have to take extra care when tying with natural quills. Show me a fly tyer that has not snapped a quill at the point of tying in while wrapping and I will show you a blatant liar! Getting quills with nice wide banding can be a chore with the synthetics you get true consistency. The other real plus with these are the translucent quills can give some really interesting effects depending upon the colour of thread that is used under them.
Of course, the acid test is would I buy them? Well natural quills come in around £2.50 sometimes they don’t pass muster and have been a waste of money. I have had this experience on a number of occassions. With these you know what you’re going to get. I don’t think they will replace naturals anytime soon but certainly worth consideration, the application is only limited by your imagination. I will definitely get round to exploring more of the range.