The breast feather have long, red, ever so slightly stiff fibres that have a very distinct action in the water. I use them quite a lot on both salmon flies and salt water flies for sea run browns. On the salmon flies, a few patterns I use have them for front hackles, but mainly I use them on shrimp-type-flies, like the famous Ullsock (Woolen Sock) from River Mörrum in Sweden.
Perhaps the most significant, Danish salt water that uses them is the beautiful and effective Autumn Fly, which is not and autumn fly as such. It’s good all year round and simply named after it’s autumn-like colours. I’ve written about the fly here before.
Golden Pheasant skins were available everywhere and never expensive. I don’t think I can remember ever paying over 10 pounds for one. But all of a sudden, Chine closed for export of Golden Pheasant skins and they’re now close to impossible to find. I have two, one nearly used up and one never used. And then I become Gollum - I rarely take a feather from them and reserve them for only a few flies, Autumn Fly being one of them. Which is stupid, really, there’s little point in having tying materials lying around that aren’t used.
There are perfectly viable alternatives around. Schlappen hackles stripped on one side to mimic the spare appearance of the Golden Pheasant are good and they can be dyed in almost the same colour. They are softer and don’t behave the same way, but I doubt the fish care.
Whiting Coq de Leon hen hackles are also good and dyes-to-match teal hackles are quite nice and a bit closer to the real deal.
This is one of the reasons I sometimes stock up when I stumble upon something good (mainly on natural materials). Unfortunately I didn’t see the sudden stop in available of Goldeen Pheasant skins. Well, I’ll stop being Gollum and just use it and turn to substitutes when I run out.
Have a great weekend!