Why Is One Vane On An Arrow A Different Color?

Last updated : August 24, 2023
Note: If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we may receive a commission but at no extra cost to you

There are so many different elements that makeup arrows of all kinds. Whether made from wood, carbon, or aluminum, every arrow comes with three different fletchings.

Two of those fletchings are always the same color, but without fail, there is always fletching that has a different color from the others.

The different color feather on the arrow is called the cock feather!

But why is one vane on an arrow a different color? So let’s look at this odd-colored vane in a little more detail!

Why Is There An Odd Colored Fletching?

Why Is One Vane On An Arrow A Different Color?

There is always an odd colored fletching on your arrow because this needs to face a different direction than the other fletchings.

You can learn more about which direction the odd colored fletching needs to face in our other post. But this needs to face you as you nock your arrow onto the string.

This is all down to aerodynamics. Your arrow will need three different fletchings placed at equal distances along the length of the arrow tip so it can move properly through the air. Without those fletchings, the arrow isn’t going to be as accurate as you need it to be.

The odd-colored fletching has a different color, making it easier to see how to nock your arrow.

colored arrow fletch wrong

This will run the risk of the archer placing the arrow in the incorrect position so that the fletching hits the riser as the arrow leaves the bow on its way to the target.

Once you’ve been shooting for a while, you will notice that you automatically place your arrow in the correct position on your bow.

What Is The Different Colored Fletching Called?

The different colored fletching on an arrow is called the cock fletching, cock vane, cock feather, index fletch, or index vane.

The rest of the fletchings on your arrow are typically called hen fletchings. This is because it is a different color to the other fletchings and easily allows you to tell which ones are which.

These fletchings have these names because of where they came from. In traditional English archery, the fletchings would be made using different feathers from different birds.

The same colored fletchings are known as hen fletchings because they were taken from female chickens, otherwise known as hens.

Cock fletchings earned their name because they were originally made using a cockerel or rooster feather.

Over time, as arrows evolved, the traditional feather fletchings were replaced with plastic vanes. However, the name cock fletching stuck with the arrow.

So it is still referred to as a cock fletching, even though they are typically no longer made using cockerel feathers.

What Is The Odd Colored Feather Of An Arrow?

Why Is One Vane On An Arrow A Different Color?

Feathers are still the preferred solution for traditional bows and arrows. They are usually used with wooden arrows, which is more historically accurate.

You will typically use these traditional wooden arrows with feathers for longbows, horse bows, and traditional flat bows.

For more modern barebows, recurve bows, and compound bows that use metal risers, arrows made using plastic fletchings are preferred.

Can An Arrow Have 2 Fletchings?

Well, if one falls off – yes. But naturally, all arrows should have three fletchings.

Sometimes fletchings can fall off mid-flight, or even if you’ve been using your arrows for a while, it’s just part of the maintenance that comes with them. Over time fletchings can become loose or fall off altogether. Now, if you don’t have a fletching jig, it can be tricky to try and repair your arrows.

You could run the risk of gluing your fletchings in the wrong place if you were to do it all by eye. This is especially true if you are a beginner.

So is there any harm in leaving your cock fletching or one of the stabilizing fletchings off the arrow and just shooting with two fletchings? Short answer, Yes!

There is! The whole structure of your arrow relies on having three fletchings in place. Some arrows can even have four fletchings in place to help improve the arrow’s flight once it has been shot.

The good news is that it is super easy to fix your arrows, and a fletching jig doesn’t have to cost all that much. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable fletching your arrows by yourself – go and visit your local archery shop. It’s not that expensive, and you’ll get back perfect arrows in no time!


One vane has a different color, so you can quickly tell it apart from the others, and this is typically referred to as the cock fletching. The cock fletching faces away from the riser. That way, you ensure that the vanes won’t get in contact with the riser and mess with the arrow flight.

An arrow typically has three fletchings, but sometimes one can fall off. If this happens, it’s easy to fix with a fletching jig. If you feel uncomfortable fletching your arrows by yourself, you can go to your local archery shop.

It’s relatively inexpensive, and you can be sure that your arrows will be perfect when you get them back.

I am the founder and chief editor here at BowAddicted. I love my kids, archery, and the outdoors! It's been an amazing journey so far with some ups and downs, but it's worth it to spend time outside with friends and family. Please feel free to contact me.

Leave a Comment