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How to Strip a Quill

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Video Transcript:

Stripping quills for quill-bodied flies isn’t difficult but it can be a little time consuming.

Quills from the stems of hackle feathers create beautifully segmented, classic fly bodies. To strip them, simply pull down on the fibers as you work your way to the butt end of the feather. Do this on both sides of the stem using the feather’s unstripped tip and butt as handles. Both of these should then be snipped off. Soaking the quill in water for about 10 minutes prior to tie-in makes them much more pliable and less prone to splitting.

Stripped peacock quills also produce incredible fly bodies. I like the ones immediately below the eye portion of the feather. These can be chemically stripped in large batches, but the easiest way to strip 1 or 2 is to place the herl on top of a piece of paper and use an eraser to remove the flues. It’s best to work from the tip down to the butt end. Peacock quills have wonderful, natural coloration but also take color well from a permanent marker. Oftentimes this actually helps to enhance the look of the quill.