Tying Flys with Emu Feathers
by Nathan Wood
My father-in-law raises emu and I have found several uses for
EMU feathers. I am able to dye them in attractive colors and the emu scud
I designed has been the best scud pattern I have ever used. I have found that
the feathers found directly on top of the emus back are the best for tying.
As you may have noticed, two feathers come out of a single hair follicle.
One has a very stiff quill at the base while the other is much like any other
hackle. You can test the quill in one of two ways.
1) You can visually tell which quill is the stiffer because it
is much thicker.
2) Simply pinch the base of the feather with the first finger and thumb of your
left hand and about 1/2 inch away do the same with your right hand. Now, touch
the fingers of your two hands (or just use a hackle gauge). The stiff quill will
not cooperate. That is, it will bend flat and not palmer very well. The
softer quill will palmer nicely.
I use the soft quill for hackling, it is very buoyant. It also
gives a nice look when dyed to stoneflies (I use them to represent the legs). I
also use the softer quill feather for buggers.
The thicker quill I use for my scuds. The natural gray fiber
of the emu feather has shown to be the most effective scud color for me.
1) Tie on some (1/8 inch) latex, baggie, "scud back," on the bend of
Preferably clear or to match the color of the scud.
2) I'll tie in the stiff quilled feather at the bend of a scud hook with the
fibers lying parallel to the tying table.
3) Tie on a copper wire for ribbing at bend as well.
4) Dub the body with a light colored dubbing to match the feather color.
5) Pull the emu feather over the top of the shank, much like you would with a
wing case. DO NOT PALMER!!!
6) Pull the latex over the top of the feather. The latex should be kept tight in
order to push the individual emu fibers down.
7) Carefully wrap the copper wire 5-7 times to create the segmented look of
scuds. The wire will further push the emu fibers down creating very realistic
8) Tie off and enjoy!!!
(you can put some mallard flack on the bend first to imitate antennae. It is up
to personal preference.)
I have landed 3-4 pound rainbows with this pattern! Good
Nathan Wood can be reached at WoodN@cc.byu.edu