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The nature of feather construction
The more the fly tier knows about the materials he has access to, the better his ability to select and apply the proper material to achieve the desired end result. Do not always accept what is read or told without a bit of personal investigation. Take time to look at materials. Feel them. Observe them under magnification. Do some homework in books such as Darrel Martin's Fly Tying Methods, which includes excellent microphotographs of all manner of tying materials. Knowledge of materials, dexterity, and experience are always found in abundance with the best fly tiers.
A quote from Mr. Martin's book sums up so well a great deal of the motivation for this article: "The birth of a fly begins with a feather. The tyer will require time and experience to know the various feather types, their numerous names, and their craft possibilities. The fly at the end of your tippet should be the result of all your knowledge and skill; it is the touchstone that drifts over the mystery of water and trout. After all, a fly is more feather than steel. It is the different feathers and the different methods that make a different fly". (Fly Tying Methods, pg. 59.)
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