Golden Pheasant heads A-Z Part 1


Well-known member
Mar 3, 2019
Mission, BC, Canada
Im making this thread to answer @Whitehorses questions about gp crests. I will explain over 2 threads just in case I run out of room. 😉

The first part is about purchasing the right heads and processing them for storage.
You may have noticed in fly shops the gp heads come in various sizes and degrees of quality. A medium sized head will do the job for trout and small salmon flies. For bigger salmon flies and Classic Atlantic Salmon flies you want the large heads. Whatever size you need consider looking for clean heads that are straight and not twisted. There are alpt of bargain brands that buy in bulk from China and save buy buying "factory seconds". They will have twisted feathers and look dark and unwashed. When I first started out I looked for bargains and one time came home with a hrad that had what I can only guess was dried out blod clots and tissue hanging out the bottom of the neck.
Personally I buy mine from Veniard. The premium gp heads are reasonably priced and good quality and they are clean.

So I have bought my heads and bring them home. I then find a bowl or if I am doing multiple heads I use the kitchen sink. I prepare warm soapy water and then pluck all the crest feathers possible and put them in the water. I soak them for about an hour and occasionally stick my hand in the water and shake it for mild water agitation.
Next I grab a Pyrex cake pan. I will pick up a crest from the water and pull it between my thumb and index finger and wring out excess water. I will then lay it flat on its side on the bottom of the cake pan. If the feather is slightly twisted you can rotate the stem with your finger to straighten it. If you have a exaggerated curve or not any curve, you can use a dubbing needle and run it along the stem to move it to the desired shape. The crests will air dry in about half an hour. Once dry, you can take the butt of the stem and pinch the stem snugly with the index finger and your thumbnail. The thumbnail will be at the underside of the feather. Then you pull the feather through slowly and a the same time pulling the feather tip side up at an angle. This will push out the barbs to make a fan shape to the feather. If you pinch too hard you will put an exaggerated curve to the stem again.
Next I separate the feathers into groups of small, medium, large and XL. I then place them carefully all lined up together into a Ziploc snack bags. I then put all the snack bags into one Ziploc bag. In this state the crests will last years safe from bugs and dust. It is also of importance to note a couple of things in closing. First, if you are washing dyed materials then add a good helping of vinager to the water so the dyes don't blleed onto other colors. Secondly, it is good to wash oyher materials such as feathers hair and fur to ensure there is no bugs or dust or grease etc. When you have your materials organized like do not leave the materials out on your table. Instead put them away right away after use. If left out and you decide to put them back into their prospecective bag it could spread bugs and the like. If stuff is left out for too long and you want to keep it then it is worth a rewash.


Staff member
Jan 14, 2019
Williams Lake, BC
Organization for me is key, my brain goes to mush tying in un organized and messy areas. After seeing this post I bet you can relate 🤣😂 Nice post BTW @Texmo !


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