Buying Guide to Fletching Jigs
The fletching jig is one of the best tools an archer can own
for do-it-yourself arrow building and repair. Whether you shoot recurve,
compound or crossbow, with arrows steered by feathers or plastic fletchings,
there’s a fletching jig for you.
But they don’t all do the same things. And if you like lots of variety with your fletchings, it’s important you find the jig that can do what you want.
Here are the factors you’ll want to consider when you are buying your fletching jig.
Fletchings are either plastic vanes or real or synthetic feathers. Some fletching jigs can handle both types. Some can only handle one or the other. Make sure the jig you want can handle the fletchings you plan to use.
For the tape-on, curly vanes commonly used by Olympic recurve archers, there are a few special jigs designed just for these vanes. More commonly, archers use a fletching tool - such as the Beiter Tri Liner - which allows them to mark their shafts with a pen to evenly space the fletchings, which are then applied by hand.
There are a wide variety of fletching lengths, ranging from
just over one inch to just under six inches. Most fletchings will be in the
two- to four-inch range, and so basically all fletching jigs will be capable of
handling fletchings of those sizes. But if you plan to use the longest or
shortest fletchings, you will need to make sure the jig you want can handle
With some jigs, the distance from the nock to the fletching
is fixed and cannot be changed. But maybe you want to experiment with moving
that fletching either closer to or farther away from the nock to combat issues
like face-fletching contact. Or maybe you like your target-arrow fletchings
closer to the nock than your hunting-arrow fletchings.
If you want to be able to change the distance between the
nock and the fletching, you will need a jig that allows for such adjustments.
Arrow shafts run from outside diameters of .176-.422 inches. Some fletching jigs can handle that full range of shaft sizes. Some can’t. Others can, but require additional parts. Know what shaft sizes you will be working with and then make sure the jig you’re looking for can handle those sizes.
Most crossbow bolts use nocks that are different from traditional nocks with two ears. Most fletching jigs are designed with receivers that hold the two-eared nocks. If you’re working on bolts that don’t have the two-eared nocks, then you need a fletching jig that can handle bolts like yours. With some jigs, you might simply need a special nock adapter that’s sold separately to work with crossbow bolts.
OFFSET, HELICAL, STRAIGHT
Here’s where you can get creative with DIY fletching. Offset,
helical and straight represent the positioning of fletchings on an arrow shaft.
Both promote spin.
Offset fletchings sit straight on the shaft, but the point
end of the vane or feather will be to the right of the nock end for right
offset, or left of the left nock end for left offset.
Helical fletchings curve around the shaft, and are also set with a right or left offset.
If you set your fletchings without any offset or helical, then they are simply considered to be straight.
Some jigs let you adjust between straight and left and right
offset and helical positions. Some are fixed, and only offer one position.
Others might only allow you to switch between a limited number of positions, or
require you to buy different parts to achieve different positions.
If you like to experiment with different fletching
configurations to figure out what works best for different bow setups, then
you’ll want a jig that offers that flexibility. If you like to keep things
simple, then a fixed-position jig will probably work for you.
THREE FLETCH, FOUR FLETCH
Evenly spacing fletchings around an arrow shaft is one of
the duties of the fletching jig. Every fletching jig will allow you to evenly
space three fletchings on a shaft. Some will also allow you to evenly space
four fletchings, but that might require the purchase of an additional part.
Others will have no capacity for a four-fletching configuration.
If you want to be able to put three or four fletchings on
your arrows, make sure the jig you’re looking for can handle both.