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Gallos de Leon Feathers

As you may have noticed on the home page, I lived in Leon in Northern Spain for a number of years and I have many friends there, including Tomas Gil, one of the very few remaining breeders of these magnificent birds. I go back to see friends, enjoy the food and of course the fishing as often as I can!

Sleeping in the house at the foot of Tomas's garden in La Candana is truly an experience. The sound of hundreds of gallos competing at dawn outside your window is awesome! Ear plugs are supplied on the bedside tables for those who wish to sleep through it, but as a short term visitor I love the sound of this chorus, even though it usually starts well before dawn!

Mike Barrio (left) and Tomas Gil (right)
A few of Tomas's gallos at the River Curueño end of his yard ..... it must be so tempting to hop over the fence and go for a cast.

Gallos de Leon fly tying feathers are more commonly known as 'Coq de Leon' outwith Spain. Gallos de Leon are reared in the Curueño Valley, a very small area of the province of Leon. The River Curueño, a great trout river, runs through the valley, where the villages of La Candana de Curueño and La Vecilla are the recognised home of these rare birds. The feathers of the 'gallos' (cockerels / roosters) have been famous for their fly tying qualities for centuries and can be found in the earliest of fly fishing books.

What makes the true 'Gallos de Leon' feathers so special? It has to be their exceptionally long stiff barbs that glisten and quiver with life. The sheen and shimmer of these feathers add a very special quality to your flies at the vice and a magical semi-translucency in the water. Just move them about under a light and you'll see what I mean!

The range of colours you can see in the feathers of both the single and speckled varieties is exceptional and their shimmering reflective properties make it almost impossible to do them justice in a photograph.

It is well known that when the gallos are reared outwith the Curueño Valley their feathers rapidly lose quality and sheen. Genuine feathers from birds reared in the Curueño Valley will always have the official seal of the 'Asociacion de Criadores del Gallo de Leon' (The Gallo de Leon Breeders Association) as the breeders are extremely proud of their birds. If the seal is not there, the feathers will not have come from the valley.

Gallos de Leon Fly Tying Feathers - Pardo
Gallos de Leon Fly Tying Feathers - Indio

There are two breeds of Gallos de Leon:

Pardo - The breed known for their speckled feathers - The principal types of Pardo are Corzuno, Corzuno Rojizo, Corzuno Oscuro, Corzuno Claro, Flor de Escoba, Aconchado, Sarrioso, Pardo Rubion and Langareto.

Indio - The breed known for their 'shiny steel' non speckled feathers - The principal types of Indio are Indio Acerado, Acerado Claro, Acerado Oscuro, Plomizo, Plateado, Sarnosa, Rubion, Cristal, Avellanado, Palometa, Negrisco and Amarillo. Some of these types are very rare nowadays and it is well known in Spain that the finest quality Indio feathers can be found in the Candana de Curueño.

Being a natural product, no two feathers or 'mazos' (bunches of a dozen feathers) are the same of course and you will invariably find variations in colour and speckles within each type.

There are four ways of describing the speckled nature of Pardo feathers:

Corzuno - finer/smaller speckles.

Pardo - normal/medium speckles.

Aconchado - stronger/thicker speckles.

Langareto - even stronger/thicker speckles with the distinct 'Langareto' pattern.

Gallo de Leon Pardo
Gallo de Leon Indio

The fibres from these feathers are perhaps most commonly used in UK fly tying circles for attractive tails on nymphs and dries, but trends are changing and many fly dressers seem to be experimenting with their use in wings nowadays too.

Gallos de Leon feathers are used much more extensively in Spanish fly tying - in tails, as a winging material and in their traditional wet fly hackles. Instead of winding a hackle, a bunch of fibres are tied in front of the thorax, which splays them out in a wet fly manner.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what you can do with them and hopefully being able to share a few examples of your creativity at the vice!

Traditional Spanish 'Ahogada' (wet fly) by Carlos Javier Diez Alonso
Spanish 'Trico' (sedge fly) by Tomas Gil

The feathers are carefully graded from economy through to premium quality, taking into account their condition, size, speckles and sheen.

Tomas hand-picks my 'mazos' (bunches of a dozen feathers) from within the very best of his premium grade feathers!

Let's take a closer look at what is available in the shop. Stock will of course vary, depending on the current availability of the rarer feathers.

Below: Pardo Corzuno Oscuro - finely flecked dark grey. 'Oscuro' (dark)

Pardo Corzuno Oscuro feathers

Below: Pardo Corzuno Rojizo - finely flecked reddish. 'Rojizo' (reddish)

Pardo Corzuno Rojizo feathers

Below: Pardo Flor de Escoba - flecked yellow flower of broom. 'Flor de escoba' (flower of broom)

Pardo Flor de Escoba feathers

Below: Pardo Flor de Escoba Encendida - flecked fiery yellow flower of broom. 'Flor de escoba' (flower of broom) 'Encendida' (alight / fiery)

Pardo Flor de Escoba Encendida feathers

Below: Pardo Crudo - flecked ivory. 'Crudo' (crude / basic) ..... Far from basic, a beautiful feather with a hint of badger perhaps.

Pardo Crudo feathers

Below: Indio Acerado - single coloured steel grey. 'Acerado' (steel grey)

Indio Acerado feathers

Below: Indio Cristal - single coloured pale crystal grey, but not as pale as the photo below suggests. 'Cristal' (crystal / glass )

Indio Cristal feathers

I can't wait for my next fishing trip to the Curueño Valley and to meet up with good friends!

Fishing 'Spanish Style' with friends in Leon
Fishing the clear waters of Leon

Fishing with friends in Leon

And enjoy the great hospitality that comes with a trip to Leon ..... Tomas and Joaquin preparing the 'Queimada'.

Tomas and Joaquin prepare the Queimada


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Customer Reviews

Name: Andrew Ellis
Country: UK
Subject: Gallos de Leon Feathers

Fabulous quality feathers, the photographs are great, but just can't capture the sheen these things have. Best CDL I've seen/used, delighted with them, thank you.


Name: Brian McCaskie
Country: Scotland
Subject: Gallos de Leon Feathers

Feathers arrived this morning. Best quality I've seen anywhere. Sheen is incredible.

Next day delivery as is the norm when dealing with Mike.