How would this look displayed in your fly tying room? Years ago, I was at a fly tying trade show, working a booth for a fly tying materials company. They happened to have one of these Whiting roosters for display in the center of the booth, and it drew quite a crowd. People would stop in just to chat about the rooster and end up chatting for a few minutes. Another well known tyer (who shall remain anonymous) was there and had struck up a conversation with some fans. They were quite boisterous and carried on for 20 minutes or so. As the couple was leaving, the woman turned around and called out, “Wait, I want to get a picture of us with you and your cock.” It was a beutiful shade of red that his face had turned, and I’ve still yet to find that shade in hackle.
whitingfarmsinc has this rooster on eBay right now. Bookmark them to get notice of other mounts in the future. I suppose that one of these roosters is on my list of thing to buy once I get a decent lottery win.
This is a striking example of a dry fly hackle rooster. He has beautiful barred “lavender” plumage. This is often referred to as a “self blue” coloration. His unusual coloring and pattern make him a truly unique specimen.
This rooster is truly unique in the world of chickens. For over 50 years genetic lines of chickens have been specifically bred for fly fishing feathers known as “hackle”.
Now, Dr. Thomas Whiting is the steward of these exceptional lines of dry fly hackle chickens. After years of genetic research and development the Whiting Line was created. This beautiful specimen is one of these genetic lines.
Have you tied with Bird Fur yet? Richard Strolis has and he has a nice pattern to share. I’ve been using Whiting’s Bird Fur for a couple of patterns, mainly leeches in black, olive and claret. So if your not sure exactly what bird fur is, listen up. Whiting has been developing a line of birds specifically for the spey market. They brought out a line of birds a few years ago under the spey hackle name, and the bird fur comes from the low (bronze) graded saddles. The lines isn’t quite ready in my opinion for spey flies as the stems are much too thin. With some more selective breeding the line will surely improve. I’m eagerly awaiting improvements in the line.
Back to the pattern, the Dirt Dart takes full advantage of the marabou-like movement and would be perfect for bass, pike and bull trout.
Henry Hoffman has spent a lifetime in pursuit of perfecting hackle. One only needs to look at the evolution of rooster hackle to see just how much things have evolved. On a recent visit to a hackle producer’s farm, I was shown some #1 neck hackles from the 60’s that made today’s #4 pro grades look like exceptional stuff. In a very few years, the genetics have been developed to the point where a single neck can tie flies anywhere from a size #32 midge up to size 2/0 streamers. We in part have Hoffman, Darby and other pioneers in the field to thanks for the quality we have today.
This article in the Daily Astorian is a nice piece on Henry’s path and highlights his career. It’s an interesting article for any tyer.