Soaking Quills~Notes

If you are like me quills are a mainstay for various fly patterns such as mayfly dries, midges, and terrestrial patterns. The problem people have with using them typically stems from soak time. Wetting them takes more than wetting them between a damp paper towel. You really need to submerge them for around 20-30 minutes before use. A simple and effective way to do this is to get some test tubes fill them with water and stick a half dozen quills in them butt first. I have been doing this for about 20 years. I took some scrap Koa wood that I typically use for reel seat spacers for my cane rods and with a forstner bit bore a series of holes the same diameter as the glass tubes. In about 5 minutes you have a nifty little quill soaking rack. If you strip and dye your own quills like I do this rack is really handy. When drying a fresh batch of dyed quills I insert about 20 quills at a time in each tube and they dry in tidy little bushels. Pre-soaking quills for fly bodies is an important consideration when dealing with the dreaded cracking of quills, save the expletives for later when your tying in hen wings!
               ~Clint Joseph Bova