When it comes to fly tying materials, particularly in the world of salmon and steelhead flies, its safe to say there’s no feather more prized than jungle cock. Due to their stunning contrast of color and natural durable enamel-like coating, jungle cock eyes (or ‘nails’) have been sought after by fly tyers for over a hundred years.
Do flies tied with jungle eyes cock catch more fish? Probably not (unless you believe in fish karma), but there’s no question they add a level of class and contrast to a fly unlike any other material.
The problem? Not only can jungle cock be difficult to source, it can also be fairly expensive, and there isn’t much that’s more frustrating than shelling out a bunch of money for an entire jungle cock cape only to find that some of nails (the actual feather) are split.
Luckily, our pal Stuart Foxall showed us a super simple way to repair cracked jungle cock nails using old clear nail varnish that’s become overly thick, tacky, and otherwise unusable. Although you can purchase adhesives designed specifically for repairing feathers, old nail varnish or head cement works great and makes use of a material that would otherwise be thrown away. Thus saving you money in the process.
To repair the cracked nail, simply add a small blob of lacquer to the backside of the feather. Be sure to add the blob of lacquer towards the base of the nail so that it will spread evenly over the entire nail.
While applying light pressure, pull the feather through your thumb and forefinger smoothly to spread to lacquer evenly over the nail. This will cause the loose fibers of the feather to stick together.
This will leave you with a durable intact feather. Just check out the same pair of feathers below!
Allow the feathers to dry and add them to your fly of choice. Simple as that!