1 Mackerel and cod feathers can be bought at little cost, but it is simple to make your own. Select longish feathers—chicken neck plumage is ideal—and dye them blue, green, orange or red for mackerel. Leave them white for cod.

2 Take a large spade-end hook —size I or I/O for mackerel or

3 for cod—and lay alongside it a loop of nylon line reel. This need not be as heavy a breaking strain as your reel line. The whip is begun as shown below.

3 Ten turns should whip down the loop securely enough. Feed the tip of the nylon through the loop and pull on it while pulling the loop tight down under the whippings. This is the spade whip.

4 Trim the loose end short Check that the hook point is exposed. It should not be hidden away out of sight among the feathers: mackerel bite too greedily to be put off by the glint of a hook.


Why do some anglers cut down the feathers they buy from tackle shops?

Mackerel often favour a wispy feather rather than a full-length, fluffy one. But if you start cutting down shop-bought ones, you’re really wasting time and money. Make your own from chicken feathers, and make a range of sizes—wispy offerings for mackerel, bushy bunches for pollack. Feather making is far easier than freshwater fly tying, and more gratifying than using shop-bought ones.

What are shark feathers?

Both very small and very large fish will fall to feathering. You can gather masses of sandeels in half a dozen casts. At the other extreme, sharks often take cod feathers, so some anglers have devised special feathers for shark fishing. These are sometimes described as shark flies.

What other species fall to feathers?

Few anglers use feathers for species traditionally caught by other techniques, but sea bream, conger and dogfish are all attracted to them.

Is it worth adding extra baits to a feathered hook?

You will greatly improve your chances of coaxing big pollack and ling out of wrecks by adding mackerel or squid strip. The combination of feathers and fish bait or worm are very attractive too, to haddock, whiting and sea bream. An effective rig for big pollack carries king rag on a 4/0 or 5/0 hook to which red and white feathers have been whipped.