Whiskey Creek Fly Fishing

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Jungle Cock

February 12th, 2009 · No Comments

Jungle cock nails are a classic material used to tie classic flies, but can be very intimidating to work with.  Here are a few different ways to incorporate jungle cock into your flies.

There’s nothing like the real thing
Unless you are getting some TARP funds, that $250 jungle cock cape may be just beyond your financial reach.  However, most of us are tying to fish, not for the shadow box. Consider getting a value grade cape from online sources. Here is one that I picked up for about $30 from eBay:

Some of the nails are split. This is real apparent for the larger nails near the top of the above picture.  These are easily repaired by putting a drop of head cement on the black band between the white and orange dots, then drawing your thumb over the surface of the nail. This should pull the fibers together, and the cement hold them in place.

The edges of the nails are are not as round and a bit rougher than you would see in the expensive versions, but these work fine for fishing flies.  Search for these on eBay.

You can also purchase a package of 6 to 10 individual nails at many fly shops or online retailers. This method has 2 advantages, its a relatively small outlay, about $1 per nail. Also, you purchase a package of the specific size that you need.  The link provided above goes to Leland Fly Shop, which has a very good price for these Jungle Cock packages.

Birds of a different feather
Another option is to modify a different feather to give an “eye” look. Starling feathers are one such option. The feathers from the back of the starling are black, have that iridescent shine, plus an orange tip.  Add a drop each of white and orange acrylic paint, and you have a reasonable facsimile. (at least close enough to fool a Steelhead that has been away at sea for a few years).

Here is a starling feather, plucked, and painted.  I used a drop of white acrylic fabric paint and a drop of orange on the tip. This one could have used a bit more orange, but you get the idea.

Guinea Fowl feathers already have the white dots and black backgrounds. Find one with a white spot centered on the stem, trim the feather around the spot to leave just the single spot, then color the spot orange with a sharpie. A drop of fleximent or varnish on the feather will polish it off.

The options continue in this article that shows how to create a jungle cock substitute  from partridge feathers.

Wicked, tricksy, false! Gollum, gollum

Please do ignore this section. Use real feathers.  Still here? OK, here is how you can imitate jungle cock without using any feathers. Use a photo realistic copy of a feather. Copy this picture to your PC, print it on Tyvek or similar waterproof paper, and trim the “paper nails” to shape, and tie in. Click on the photo for a full resolution copy.

I created this photo by scanning an actual jungle cock nail, and used PhotoShop to copy/paste.  If you need to resize the photo, you can use an imaged editing software, or just scale it while printing.

Tags: Fly Tying

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