How to Choose the Right Fletching

By: Gary Elliot

Ever head out to the pro shop or big box store for some vanes for your arrow shafts only to get there and become more confused then when you left?

Believe me it can get confusing to try to pick out not only the brand but what color. Oh, I like the camo, wait do I want a 3, 4 or 5 inch vane? Darn, maybe I should get a blazer vane? Now, do I have to worry about weight? Not to fear I am hoping to help you out here to understand how to go about picking the right vane for your arrow and the type of shooting you are doing.

Vanes are attached to the back of the arrow to provide steering of your arrow. Depending on weather you are using a field tip or a broadhead could make the difference in what type and size of vanes to use.

First off, lets look at a couple of the many companies that make vanes. Norway Industries has been making vanes for 50+ years and is one of the industry’s leading vanes; Duravanes and Fusion vanes.

Duravanes by Norway Industries

Duravanes® are available in 3 sizes and 12 colors. Made with a blend of the strongest non-rubber materials available, As stated on their site Duravanes® have been designed and tested to outperform any other vane, or feather in all aspects.

New for 2011 from Norway Industries

The blade on all DURAVANES® has a slight taper from base to top for unbelievable size/weight versus steering power. This allows use of a much smaller vane than usual for a specific size shaft. This design also eliminates blade flap and unwanted noise.

The suction fit base is for an instant airtight surface-to-surface bond. Most super glue type glues make this bond indestructible. Norway Industries blend of materials means that no primer or any other material need be used on the base of the vane for adhesion. Duravanes also have a lifetime shelf life as well. As always you can visit www.norwayindustries.com for more on the Duravanes and Fusion vanes.

Next is Bohning Archery located in Lake City, MI. According the Bohnings website it states; “The Bohning Company was founded in 1946 by Rollin Bohning. He was a research chemist and avid archer who had become dissatisfied with the cements available to bond broadheads to hunting shafts. He developed Ferr-L-Tite ™ adhesive for adhering hardware to wood and aluminum shafts.” Although it has gone several changes over the years Bohning still produces this adhesives and it is still one of the industries leading adhesives to this day.

Bohning today may better be known for their famous Blazer vanes (designed for optimal broadhead control) considered more specialty vanes. The Blazer is 1.987” long and .568 and weigh only 6 grains.

The Popular Blazer Vanes by Bohning

The Blazer family also can be broken down to include the following. The mini-Blazer (Choice by many 3d shooters), Micros-Blazer (Designed for target shooters), Blazer X2 (Designed for target and spot shooters.) An finally the Blazer Shrink Fletch. You can visit www.bohning.com and obtain more information on their vanes.

Then there is Goat Tuff makers of the OptiVane and the new OptiVane II for 2011. The OptiVane is designed with Norway Industries Fusion Technology. They measure 2” long and .580” high. They have a softer base allowing each vane to be more secure and easily glued to any shaft. The black colored base allows for easy glue visibility. Durability of these vanes allows for shoot thru Arrow Rests and hold up well with the Whisker Biscuit. The stiff blade and high profile allow for rapid arrow stabilization and increased arrow speed.

The Original Opti-Vane from Goat Tuff Products

The new OptiVane II for 2011 at 2.75” long, .500” high and weighing in at 7.5 grains has 24% more surface area than the OptiVane. The lower profile allows for maximum clearance. This allows for optimum broadhead flight and performance. Their low profile also makes them perfect for your crossbow. Goat Tuff is also famous for their cyanoacrylates glue which works on carbon, aluminum and wood shafts and all vanes, feathers and nocks. Other uses include plastics, rubbers, metals, leather, porcelain, and more.

New for 2011, the Opti-Vane II

Another name to look for in high quality vanes is Flex-Fletch. The newest from this company is their Glow Vanes line of aerodynamically designed plastic vanes that are made using a special proprietary formula that enables each vane to glow in low light situations.

Glow Vanes only from Flex-Fletch

Flex-Fletch spokesman Daniel Grundman noted that these vanes will glow brightly between 10 and 12 hours after exposure to 20 to 30 minutes of artificial or direct sun light. The vanes will reach their peak of saturation in only a few minutes of exposure to direct light, sunlight and even black light. Great vanes with a high visibility feature that will help you find and retrieve your arrows faster and see the arrows in flight better.

Feathers are of course the “original” arrow fletching. I guess Mother Nature know best. Given 3 4” Gateway feathers weigh just over 8 grains. Compared to 24 grains for three 4” Duravanes. Their natural textural helps the bite in to the wind. They also have a natural curvature to them so they help the arrows spins as well. Then the draw back is cost because since they are from turkeys and you have to harvest the turkeys, pluck, cut dye and sort them. They also require much more care than the above mentioned vanes as well.

For the traditional archer few things match the quality of Gateway Feathers

Now for the big question, how do I determine the fletching turn? That is a good question and glad you asked. The best for fixed broadheads is the helical or spiral pattern. Right hand helical is the most popular and maybe the better over left hand. Right hand will spin clockwise and one you hit the target will actually tighten your broadhead. Left Helical when the arrow hits a target may loosen the broadhead.

Right or Left offset may cause some fletching clearance. This would be my second turn of choice.

Straight fletch will not allow the arrow to turn and cause less stability of broadheads but will allow for the most speed but will be less stable over long distances.

Finally, if you go by FOC (front of center balance) then weight may be an issue. I would suggest whatever vanes you use always check the manufacturer’s website for all specifications. Basically, if you are shooting target and using field points then a 2-3” fletch may be sufficient. But, if you are shooting fixed broadheads then you may want to use a larger fletch so that you get better stability. Then again vanes such as the Blazer claim the best broadhead control. This comes down to you as a archer working with your bow and arrow selection and finding what works best wit your setup. Remember be saying that in the arrow review? If you said yes, thank you for reading it and if you said no, now I am disappointed and suggest you read it.

In closing as stated above always make sure you work with a Professional to help you set up your bow and prepare your arrows. Until you understand and feel comfortable doing it yourself. I have found that my bow seems to work well with the Shrink Fletch or 3” to 4” style of fletching. I also would like to thank Janis at Norway Industries for her time and for sending me some of their vanes to try out. Jerry Smith at GoatTuff for his time and sending the new OptiVane II’s and Daniel Grundman of Flex-Fletch and Todd Vaaler at Gateway for their help. I will have a review coming on those very soon and a video as well. I also want to thank Dale Voice at Bohning Archery for his time and the Blazer vanes Bohning sent as well. I have found that people in this industry are very kind and helpful and always willing to take time to explain things to you which really does not exist in to many other industries anymore.  Like much of the archery equipment, there are no bad vanes out there. You just need to buy what works the best for you and your style.


Special Thanks to:

Norway Industries

Bohning Archery

Goat Tuff Products

Flex-Fletch

Gateway Feathers

One Response to "How to Choose the Right Fletching"

  1. clesson cottrell   2011/03/09 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks for the info on vanes Gary, I think the glow vanes are a great idea, one of them why didn’t i think of that..