My latest experimenting with my fly tying has involved stripping, bleach and rubber! You guessed it...I've been attempting some of the fantastic flies that I have seen on some of the forums which incorporate the use of a stripped peacock quill to create the effect of a segmented body.
The way in which you should take carry this out is really down to what you find best yourself. I have read many different processes that people undertake to strip the fluff from their quills and I would have to say that they all end up with similar results.
The following is my process based on my limited experience but its a way I find works well for me:
First important thing is to ensure that you select the 'right' type of feather, look for a large eye...you then need to look at the colour of the quills, this is best done by gently squeezing between thumb and forefinger whilst looking at the back (dull side) of the eye. You should see a nice lighter shade appear.
I then cut out enough quills to more than cover the amount of flies I intend to tie with them.
This next step is open to a bit of debate as to the best way to do it, the way I found works is to mix up a solution of 1/3rd household bleach to 2/3rds warm water then soak the quills for around 10 minutes of so. Some say that bleach weakens the quill but I have found no problems diluted to these proportions.
This will start to remove the fluff and you will see the water start to change colour as it gets to work on the quills. Most importantly I think the bleach in the solution alters the shade of the quills making them brighter which adds to the effect of the finished fly. The quills then need to be washed out thoroughly to remove all traces of the bleach solution.
Some tyers will be happy just to use a rubber to remove the fluff, others will just soak in water and there are others who use a different solution to remove the fluff...as I say its what you find suits you best.
I then finish off by gently rubbing an eraser along the length of the quill on both sides to remove the remainder of the fluff.
This leaves the quill looking bright and shiny and ready to be used.