Fletching is made up of three or more vanes or feathers. One of the fletches will be a different color and is called the "cock" or "index" fletch. The remaining fletches are referred to as the "hen" fletching.
Fletching on an arrow shaft stabilizes the shaft during flight by causing it to spin as it leaves the bow, just as a quarterback puts a spiral spin on the football as he passes. Spinning keeps the arrow on its flight path and preserves speed, accuracy, and ultimately, impact power.
Generally speaking, the fletching profile needs to be wider than the cutting diameter of the broadhead being shot, or arrow flight could be affected. It is recommended also that 4- to 5-inch fletching be used to compensate for broadhead size and weight.
There are several types of fletching.
- This is the most common fletching arrangement used for target shooting.
- Three fletches are glued symmetrically onto the shaft 120 degrees apart.
- Some archers prefer four fletches per arrow attached 90 degrees apart.
- This is the most common fletching arrangement used for hunting.
- Fletches are glued onto the shaft in a slight spiral fashion to provide more spin and greater in-flight stability.
- Fletches also may be glued on at a slight diagonal to the long axis of the arrow shaft.
- This type of fletching is perfect for squirrel or game bird hunting.
- A single, uncut turkey wing feather is wrapped around the arrow shaft, glued in place, and picked apart to form a bristle appearance. Large, high-profile feathers are used if full, uncut feathers are unavailable.
- Flu-flu arrows do not fly very far because of the increased resistance of the oversized fletchings.
- Plastic Fletching: This fletching is made from soft plastic or vinyl and is often called vanes. Vanes are available in many sizes and colors, are perfectly matched; and are easily glued onto wood, aluminum, or carbon-fiber shafts using a fletching tool called a fletcher or fletching jig.
- Feather Fletching: This fletching is made from the wing pointer feathers of a turkey. The pointer feathers have a natural curvature distinct to the right and left wings of the turkey. A feather-fletched arrow will use either all right-wing or all left-wing feathers, never a mixture. You may use all left-wing or all right-wing feathers on your arrows, no matter which one of your eyes is dominant.