Fly-tying specific Ostrich (like most natural materials) can run a wide range of quality. Any tier who uses natural materials can knows the frustration and uncertainty when buying materials… anywhere from 30-60% of prepackaged commercial material can be thought of as “unusable” by a discerning tier. I know that may sound absurd and many people will argue “the fish can’t tell the difference”… TRUE, but the tier can. Most of us want to create aesthetically pleasing and attractive flies, that also catch fish…. AND to do that, the first thing you need is good materials.
I’m an Ostrich Hoarder (I’m the first to admit it). I will pull every pack off the shelf at the fly shop, spread them out on the floor, open and inspect the plume to find the perfect mix of length/ stiff butt/soft tip/and deep rich dye job. I’ve ordered 100s of plumes from China for pennies, hoping to find 10 good pieces. I’ve spent hours looking for ways to turn the “bad plumes” into something useable, and scheming with friends looking for the secret dye or burning method.
I’m happy to say that I’m done with it. I really think there is a commercially available product that works.
The Olympic Peninsula Skagit Tactics Barred Ostrich
What I like
– Dye job – this is done right! Deep rich even color that stays – in a pretty good range of “candy” and natural colors
– Barring – Again, done right! Thick and bold black – enough of a pattern that allows for the contrast to show on individual barbules
– Quality – Stiff butt and soft tip, this makes for easy working and performance of individual barbules
– Palmer-able – A pliable stem and the top of the plume makes for easy palmering, or you can split the stem for a sparser look
Confidence that these are hand selected by fly tier who know materials
Jerry French, Ed Ward, Trevor Cocich – these guys know what’s up
Check out their site – http://www.opskagit.com/index.html
Lots of great info/videos/products, there is an online store or you can even book lessons or a day of guiding.