Video: How to Tie a Catskill-style Red Quill

The proper way to tie a Catskill-style dry fly has been the subject of many debates and even the cause of a few feuds over the years. You’d be amazed by how passionate a grown man can get when discussing the proper number of fibers for the tail or the correct orientation of the wings. But I can’t imagine that anyone has the cojones to take on Joe Fox, great-grandson of Walt and Winnie Dette and heir to their legendary fly shop in Roscoe, New York.

In this great video from Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions, Joe reveals a few family secrets, as he demonstrates how he ties a Red Quill. From the way he positions the thread to how he attaches the wings to his method for softening the quill, you’re sure to learn a few things that will help you tie many styles of dry flies.

          Catskill-style Red Quill
          Hook: Standard dry-fly hook (here a Daiichi 1170), sizes 12-16.
          Thread: White, 8/0 or 70 denier.
          Wing: Two matching wood-duck flank feathers.
          Tails: Medium-dun hackle fibers.
          Abdomen: Quill from a Rhode Island red hackle feather, soaked.
          Hackle: Two medium-dun feathers, slightly different colors.
          Coating: Thin coat of varnish or head cement over the abdomen.

4 thoughts on “Video: How to Tie a Catskill-style Red Quill”

  1. I have six Red Quills tied by the great one and only, Anglers Roost owner Jim Deren. Hopefully everybody remembers this guy. Learned a lot from him. Had many drinks with him sharing memories.

    1. My non fly fishing Dad went into his shop at the Chrysler Building. He picked up a few flies for me. The chaos of the shop and the gruffness of Deren himself really made my dad chuckle. I still have the flies.

  2. Really great video. It brings back many memories. In the early 80s, I spent many hours watching Walt, Winnie and Mary tie flies in their shop. Steps Joe uses are what I remember except they never used a bobbin. Just pulled off a length of thread, think it was white Danville or maybe silk, that they had waxed themselves and respooled for storage prior to use. Used their fingers to wrap the thread and a spring cloths clip to hold the thread at intermediate steps. I remember Walt carefully measuring every hackle before tying it in so each fly would be perfect.

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