Playing with Polish Quills

Being no stranger to stripping and tying with quills, I was eager to try these new hand stripped peacock herl from Polish quills. At first sight I must say I was a little disappointed with the short length of the quills, they are approximately 6 cm in length, from end to end and have a usable area of about 5 cm. But I gave them a go and was pleasantly surprised that you could actually get quite a good length of body out of each quill. No doubt the shortness of the quill is reflected in where the herl is located on the peacock tail feather. The very strongest and best herl for stripping, comes from just under the eye of the tail feather and these are naturally shorter than the herl located lower down.

After a little testing, I can safely say that you can comfortably tie extremely fine quill dry fly bodies with these on hooks up-to # 12, but anything larger than this and you have to compromise proportions with a shorter quill body. But for nymph abdomens, which require a shorter body you can tie on larger hooks. 

Polish quills

Polish quills make 15 fine colours in total and Veniards are currently stocking 12, of the most popular. I am not sure what dyeing technique used on these quills but its a quality job, resulting in lively coloured quills.

All the above midges are tied on a # 16 hook and coated with Bug Bond.

For those of you that are new to tying with stripped quills these are well worth trying, stripping quills yourself can be a tedious and messy job, especially if you intend to tie any number of flies. Heres a short step by step to tying a quill body.

Quill body midge emerger

Hook:  Mustad C49 SNP-BR # 12-18 

Tying thread:  Dyneema

Body:  Polish Quills coated with Bug Bond UV resin 

Thorax:  Peacock herl

Hackle:  Grizzle cock



Secure your hook in the vice.



Run your tying thread over the hook shank and down into the hook bend.


Now on the underside of the hook shaft, tie in the quill at the thinest end, with the dark edge nearest the vice jaws, as shown. If you tie the quill in with the dark edge on top of the quill you wont get optimal segmenting of the finished body. 


Remove the excess quill and run your tying thread up behind the hook eye.


Attach a rotary hackle plier to the very end of the stripped quill and start wrapping up the hook shank, making sure that each turn of quill, just slightly overlaps the last.


After each turn of quill its a good idea to hold the last warp in place with your left index finger after each turn.


Continue until the whole body is complete.


Now carefully un-wrap your tying thread, back towards the hanging quill.


Then make one tight turn of tying thread around the quill, securing it.


Remove the hackle pliers and tie down.


Give the body a fine coat of Bug Bond and cure with the UV light. For most dry fly patterns its best to give the hook shank a coat of varnish before you wrap the quill, but with this midge emerger a coat of Bug Bond will more than suffice.



Tie in a length of peacock herl at the base of the thorax.


About 1 mm in front of the peacock herl tie in a grizzle dry fly hackle.

Make 2 or 3 wraps with peacock herl behind the hackle and then in front all the way to the hook eye and tie off.


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7 thoughts on “Playing with Polish Quills

  1. lovely sbs Barry !
    i’m curious about this: “For most dry fly patterns its best to give the hook shank a coat of varnish before you wrap the quill, but with this midge emerger a coat of Bug Bond will more than suffice.”
    what’s the difference ?

    1. Hi Marc, The only difference is that this small # 16 emerger has little body weight and will float hi and dry, even with the BB body coat. But if you make larger traditional dry flies like Wulffs and coat the body with BB, they cut through the surface and they will not be as bouyant as a quill body that is au natural.


  2. I don’t get the pictures with the blog, any suggestions?

    Dan Miller

    HDR Engineering, Inc.
    VP, Sr. Project Manager

    Note my new address:
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    1. Hi Dan, Thats the first time I have heard that!

      It must be something to do with your net reader! All I can suggest is that you try and access from another PC and see if that works, if so it is your net reader. I hope it works out.