Friday, February 28, 2014

All dressed-up: Tips & Tricks for Feather Dressing Treble Hooks

I don't know about you, but when it comes to my top-water bait arsenal, feather tipped treble hooks are must.. and if my favourite bait companies don't provide one, that's OK, Ill just make my own!

Whether I'm updating the stock hook that came with the bait, or trying to add some additional flash and flutter, a  feather dressing on both poppers and walking baits is a great way to improve that baits overall performance, here are some tips to take into consideration when dressing your own hooks, or purchasing pre-dressed hooks.

White is nice, but a splash of colour will go a long way.

My biggest beef with stock feathered trebles is that for the most part there is very little originality and almost all the readily available hooks come in a wide selection of white, white and if your really lucky white and red.. Don't get me wrong I'm not knocking white  or white/red, they are proven fish catching colours and have a place on some baits.. like the hand dressed IMA Skimmer on the top of this article. But if I'm fishing baits that are predominantly dark colours, I always attempt to make the carpet match the drapes if you know what I mean.

Check out the below X-Rap Pop as an example of how to take advantage colour matching. I chose olive green fathers to accent the back and head of the bait and a single aqua feather and some pearl flash to match the side and belly colours. This treble is now an extension of the bait giving it some nice flash and flutter without looking out of place.

Tip: I won't attempt to give you tips on feathers, because there are so many out there and the quality varies from company to company. What I would recommend it making your first purchase or two from a shop that will allow you to actually open and see what the feathers are like. Nothing worse then dropping $30 on feathers you can't use.

Tip: If your buying your feathers from a craft store or other non fishing vendor be sure to check the package to ensure the dye used will hold up in the water, there is nothing worse then watching your hard work bleed out after the first cast

Flare & Stack to Increase Profile

Depending on the size of your bait, and in turn the size of the treble you are dressing, you may want to bulk up the feathers, by stacking, layering and/or tying the feathers higher up the shank. A good example of this can been seen on my Duo Pencil 110 (below). As you can see the feathers really flare out almost hiding the hook entirely from view. This was accomplished using two of the techniques listed above.

The first method used was stacking, when looking to bulk I look for fuller feathers and/or stack two feathers on top of each other prior to tying them to the hooks shank. Tying them flat on top of each other will add bulk but not flare, if you want flare try to work with the feathers so that the tips are opining in slightly opposite directions allowing them to curl out and away from each other.. flare achieved.

Tying the feather higher or lower on the hook will also give your bait a bit of a different look. The further down the shank the longer the tail will be, and the further up the more bulk you'll get around the hook itself.  Bulk can also be effected by how hard and where you bare down on the feather.

Tip: Once Ive added all my feathers & flash I take a look at the profile, if I want to tighten things up (reduce profile) I will give it a couple tight wraps right where the feathers meet my thread base prior to finishing off the tie.

A Little Flash will go a long way

When dressing treble hooks it is very rare for me not to include some form of flash. I personally keep 3 main colours on hand at all times and in all honesty that really should cover me for almost any bait that gets thrown my way.. White/Pearl, Black, and some form of  Green (preferably dark).. my brand of choice is Krystal Flash although I will go outside the box if need be.  Krystal Flash contains thin round strands instead of the flatter strands offered by other brands. If you check out the below pic of the two Live Target walking frogs, you can quickly see the Krystal flash on the yellow frog, but I bet you don't see the flat stands I used on the green model… and if you did notice them you can see that they don't reflect as much light as the round flash.

Tip: When applying flash I often purposely leave it long while tying and then trim it to my taste after the hook is completed. Try not to get to caught up in making everything even, I like having a few long stands and some shorter strands, it has a more natural look to it.

Tools of the Trade

There are a few basic tools that will make your life easier when tying trebles, they are not expensive by any means and they will reduce your frustration level ten fold. The first tool is a vice of some sort, the idea being that it will securely hold the hook in place while you are tying, it does not have to be fancy, it just needs to do the job.. entry level Vices can be found for as little as $20 in many major retailers

Next up is your Bobin, it is by far the best way to apply thread to a hook, I have seen guys attempt this by hand, and you simply can't get the same consistent pressure or accuracy. You can find bobbins as low as $5 and there is no need to spend over $10 on one (in my opinion). 

Thread and Glue will also be required upon start-up, and don't just raid your wives sewing drawer for this stuff, actually head to a fly shop or jump on line and buy a thread and glue designed to hold up to a battle with fish and the elements

That's that, these tools will get you started, there are many more you can purchase, like tiny little scissors, bodkins and even whip finishing tools, but you won't need these to get started so don't waste you money on the.. you will need you cash for feathers and flash 

for those interested how to videos and step by step tips on how I tie my trebles are coming soon

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