I am fortunate to be able to carry Whiting Farms feathers. But when I went to make my first order I had no clue the difference in grades, and products. I thought I would share what I have learned. I look forward to expanding my inventory, but man it is hard not to keep them for myself.
Capes Vs. SadIdles:
The cape (for dry flies) is from a rooster and runs from the neck down through the breast area while the saddles run on the back/sides. A cape tends to have shorter feathers with less consistency than a saddles, but usually has more feathers and a wider range of sizes. Saddles provide longer feathers super consistent all the way through which make them easier to tie with in my opinion.
25 factors go into grading including number of usable feathers, webbing, stiffness, coloration, length etc. For your capes you can expect to get 2000 usable feathers in the size 10-22 range with the majority in the mid ranges. Silver will yield 1400 and bronze 900. Bronze capes will have fewer feathers in the small size ranges. Saddles in the silver grade will yield 800 flies with bronze at 500 and pro at 300. Midge saddles will have feathers in the size 18-24 sizes and regular saddles in the 12-18 size ranges, again most in the mid ranges of 14 and 16.
Variants have to do solely with coloration and not quality. A variant will have multiple colored feathers, the predominant is listed. In other words, a Grizzly Variant will have mostly grizzly colored feathers, but could also include some badger, furnace, coachman or brown.