Category Archives: fly tying materials

Selecting the Right Deer and Elk Hair for Fly Tying with Kelly Galloup

In this video, Kelly will walk you through the various types or deer and elk hair and why you would use one over the over for specific fly tying applications. We have included links to the products mentioned in the video below

Premo Deer Strips: https://www.slideinn.com/product/premo-deer-hair/

Spinning Deer Hair: https://www.slideinn.com/natures-spirit-spinning-deer-hair

Stimulator Deer Hair: https://www.slideinn.com/product/natures-spirit-stimulator-deer-hair/

Deer Belly Hair: https://www.slideinn.com/product/deer-belly-hair/

Comparadun Deer Hair: https://www.slideinn.com/product/natures-spirit-comparadun-deer-hair/

Spinning Elk Hair: https://www.slideinn.com/product/natures-spirit-spinning-hair-cow-elk/

Yearling Elk Hair: https://www.slideinn.com/product/natures-spirit-premium-yearling-elk-hair/

Comparadun Elk Hair: https://www.slideinn.com/product/natures-spirit-comparadun-hair-cow-elk/

Early Season Elk Hair: https://www.slideinn.com/product/productnatures-spirit-early-season-elk-hair/?add_to_wishlist=32924

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Sideling Hill Hackle by Evan Brant

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I’ve been raising chickens as long as I can remember, my parents have pictures of me sitting with chicks when I was hardly able to walk. So when I decided in college that I wanted to come home and work with my dad on my family’s dairy farm, hackle chickens was a natural fit.

I grew up with a trout stream and a pond in my backyard. Opening day of fishing season was always close to the same level as the opening day of rifle season with my family, no one worked and we always made it a “holiday”. Once I was old enough to get to the “crick” by myself I was there almost every evening until past dark in the spring and summer.

In the summer before my 12th birthday a friend from church showed me his fly tying kit he had. After playing with it a little bit I told my dad that I would like to get one. He in turn told me if I caught 2 trout on a fly that I had tied from my friend’s kit with my spincast rod he would buy me one for my birthday in the fall. Needless to say, it was challenge accepted and within a few weeks time I had my fish caught. Later that fall he held up his end of the bargain.

Evan's Dad

David Strait with one of Evan’s beautiful birds

I spent that winter tying flies and by the spring opener I was well stocked and ready to catch fish. It took me 3 years to finally get a fly rod, but I used my spin rod with a wet fly, time and time again, to catch fish in those early years. Tying flies was usually something that would go on the back burner through the busy season on the farm, but when the winter rolled around and evenings were spent in the house, it was back to tying.

b3Fast forward a few years to the end of high school and I had decided that I wanted to attend Penn State for a degree in Ag business. Little did I know what I was about to do to myself. When I started at main campus I heard they had a fly fishing club, and that was where my winter hobby turned into full blown obsession. I was instantly hooked on central Pennsylvania’s limestone streams and these “new to me” wild brown trout that had colors like I had only seen in magazine articles. I spent hours tying flies between classes and when I should have been in class. Then I would rush off to Spring Creek to try them out.

When it was time to make the big decision on where the next chapter of my life was to take place I was ready to take on working beside my father on our farm. We had a few chicken coops sitting empty on the farm and I started scouring the internet looking for hackle chickens. After a year of looking I had a dozen eggs purchased and shipped from Idaho from Dustin Pond who got his birds from Alvin Theriaul. Out of that original hatch in June of 2012 I had 8 out of 12 grizzly chicks hatch, 6 were roosters, and I was off and running. The next spring I paired my best two roosters with hens and hatched somewhere around 35 or 40 chicks. Jumping to the spring of 2014 I had hatched about 40 again of my own and also got eggs shipped in from my buddy Kevin from out in Nevada. We had done some swapping and he had sent me eggs from his stock stemming from Joel Alsdorf. I added brown and barred ginger to the color palate. That year, I also met my friend Anthony, who introduced me to my mentor, Jan Pickel.

Barred red ginger

Barred red ginger

Jan owns Bob’s Hackle Farm which he purchased from Robert “Bob” Wetzel in 1990. Bob had got his stock in the early years from names you have read about in hackle history, Harry Darbee, Bill Tobin, Charlie Collins, Andy Miner, Keough, and Chris Baker to name a few.

Jan came out in the spring of 2014 on his way to fish the “Drakes” in central PA and helped me pick out my brood stock for the year. He is the one that really showed me what I needed to look for in a good feather. We talked that year and at the fly fishing show in Lancaster in 2015, Jan said he would be willing to help me out and get me some eggs to add the colors I was missing. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time, but looking back it’s easy to see Jan boosted my flock by at least 10 years worth of breeding, probably more than that. From him I was able to add a whole multitude of colors of a quality of dry fly hackle I had been dreaming of.
evanb2

Hatching season of 2015, I added around 35 birds, I had hatched out from Jan and recruited my friend, Dave Strait, to help me raise chickens. We hatched around 180 that year total and shifted gears into trying to make Sideling Hill Hackle into something more than a few birds in the back yard. I also started looking into the feed we were using and had a real lightbulb of an idea by making my own feed using the crops I grow on my farm to cut costs and be able to keep my hackle priced lower than some. It was an experimental year to see how things would grow on the new feed but it worked, and it worked well! Jan made the drive up from New Park, PA in the late fall and spent a day here showing me his method of cleaning and preparing hackle. By the time I was done skinning birds in the early months of 2016, everything was sold for the most part and I decided it was time to change gears again, this time in numbers.
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We started hatching late winter of 2016 choosing all of the best roosters and hens in the early winter with the aid of Jan in breeder selection in the late fall. After the smoke settled in the late spring there were somewhere around 750 chicks running around between my place and David’s. Driving back home from Jan’s place in the spring it hit me that this is what I wanted to do with my life. With the dairy industry in shambles most years it’s an easy choice for me. If the good Lord allows it, I plan on growing the flock more and more until eventually it takes its place as the farm’s main source of income along with beef cows and crops. It’s going to take some time to get things there and there are some changes I would like to see to the feather structure. Until that happens, the train is off and moving in the right direction, to say the least.
holding

If it wasn’t for Jan, that would not be the case, so that’s where credit is due. I’m very optimistic and excited to see where the next few years take things!

Tight lines!
Evan

Check out Sideling Hill Hackle’s Etsy page here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/sidelinghillhackle

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