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Every time I use something like a partridge feather for a hackle, I have to remove part of the feather fibres (the fluffy soft part) and that usually goes to waste. I wonder if that can be used for something like dubbing, for example.

I know that most materials are not that expensive, but I hate to waste stuff.

Are there uses for those soft fibres? In general, what by-products of tying a fly can be reused on other flies?

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You could use it, but it probably wouldn't be very convenient. That fluffy stuff is basically Marabou, which is one of the most popular fly tying materials, the difference between the soft hookless barbs found on your hackles, and the barbs found on semiplumes like Marabou, is the rachis, the shaft of the feather the barbs attach to. You could make use of it, but you'd exert a lot of extra effort compared to making a fly with a new semiplume.

If you're conscious about wasting materials, just remember that the feathers you're using are already a byproduct to begin with. They don't harvest birds for feathers, they harvest them for meat, the feathers just happen to be usable in some other markets as well, but would be garbage otherwise.

If that still doesn't satisfy your conscience, then start saving just the hookless barbs until you have enough to re-stuff a pair of mittens. You could turn a pair of cheap synthetic mitts into a nice light pair of down-ish mitts, then brag about how you made them out of all the scraps from the hundreds of flies you've tied.

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  • Well that's partially the reason I suggested them for sabiki rig flies. To be quite honest, I am not tying a proper fly, I am hold the hook and dubbing in my fingers and tying a snell knot right around the whole mass. Sabiki rigs don't last very long so no need for a nice fly, just something that is more than a bare hook, but for plankton feeders, the dubbing is a perfect bait to tie on your hooks.
    – Escoce
    Nov 6 '15 at 15:38
  • @Escoce I agree they would be perfect for sabiki rigs.
    – ShemSeger
    Nov 6 '15 at 17:19
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I use that dubbing to make flies used in tiny hook sabiki rigs. Just something that will wiggle around the hook to attract plankton feeders. I use these to catch sardines, alewives, menhaden, herrings and also sometimes perch catch well on sabiki rigs. Check your local regs, because some places don't allow sabiki rigs and or limit how many hooks you may have or what fish are allowed to be caught with sabiki rigs.

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  • That sounds like a good suggestion. I don't use sabiki rigs myself, so I'll probably wait for an application for fly fishing, but I'm sure that your idea is useful for other folks.
    – Kenji
    Nov 5 '15 at 16:31

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