On The Vise:Q & A “Substitute material for wild type brown/Iso Soft Hackle”

I had a question from Vicky who I’d met last year while doing a soft hackle presentation, about where to find the wild type brown and what to use as a substitute. The Whiting Wild type brown is one of my favorite all around dark brown hackles but its mostly reserved for my larger soft hackles such as “the brown ones” and the “Iso soft hackle

(and Hang on Troutbitten! Ill be posting about our discussion on what to do with too much hackle and not enough hook soon! Because it goes hand in hand with the fact that these big feathers can be great on smaller flies when tweaked a little)

But what else can you use as a substitute when you cant get your hands on it just yet?

Lets take a look.


I have a little soft hackle hoarding problem..there’s more.. way more. Id better tie faster.


Now I grabbed a small handful of my darker browns above to do a few comparisons and as you can see they are much different but can work

This here is the Wild Type Brown that i talk about a lot


Its a Hebert Miner and made by Whiting


Product code in case you need it for ordering


Keep in mind that these are soft hackles and you will find that the more the trout beat them up the better they work! These Iso’s are meant to be fished in faster moving water and twitched every so often as to imitate an Iso swimming to emerge. The trout arent going to get an upclose and personal look at them.

So dont go to crazy trying to match exactly.

Now… lets inspect some hackle!

In the top middle of the photo above is the wild type brown and its what we will be trying to match. As you can see some feathers are rounded others long some dark some lighter ect..


This one here has the mottling but the shape is different. Doesn’t mean it wont work


These feathers are rounder.. and too light.


Ah… here is a good one! The coloration is good and this is just a generic hackle, I dont know where I even acquired it.


This could also work! The detail is there on this one!


As you can see, once sorting through some of your saddles you can find a “close enough”. And That white stripe I will show you later in a pattern where I use it for the Iso’s back.

But dont fear when its not an exact material that’s listed and im going to show you why in a minute.

In the middle here Is what I would deem “close enough” and its just a generic hen hackle.


And upon closer inspection you can see that while there is nooooo way to match the quality of the whiting on the right, but that the left is a close enough match for the time being.


And I know this, because I’ve used it before and it worked just fine. Sometimes we are our own worst critics. But as you will soon see, when I compare two of my whiting wild type browns they aren’t so exact either.

The quality is awesome but they aren’t exact. It happens often with lots of hackle. Its why we must inspect them before buying, so we can get the one we like the most that will work for the pattern we are tying.

But they both work on that pattern and they both catch fish.

Lets take another closer look.


man! these are sexyyyyyyy! hahah dont laugh you know you’ve said the same thing about materials now and then.


Also note– See how the colors change through out the photographs? Its why you have to use your own judgement and what will match the hatch in your area with this.

Now The One on the left, above and below as you can see, have lighter edging and lighter stems. The one on the right with more mottling.

Up close to see the difference


Even more differences in shape


Two whiting wild type brown feathers here side by side.


As you can see from what we have shown here, that while they might be excellent quality and I prefer to use them, the fact is that wild type browns aren’t always exact from one saddle to the next; this is why you can substitute them for something that’s close enough for the time being in this pattern.

I hope this helped Vicky!

P.S. – But the next time you see some Wild Type Brown… buy it before I do! ahhhaha You will find many uses for it.

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