Slender quills are best left quite long for fishing like a stick float, but thick quills can be cut quite short to produce a heavier style of float that can be fished like a Balsa with bunched shot in fast swims.
To make a single quill float you first need to prepare the quill by removing the feathers. Dont be tempted to just pull the feather off as you will nearly always put a hole in the side of the quill if you do. I prefer to remove the feathers as close to the quill as possible using a sharp pair of scissors, and then remove the stubbly remains with fine sandpaper.
Once the quill is prepared you can either whip a small wire ring to the base, or use the older method of carefully removing half of the quill for about half an inch at the the base and folding the other half over to make a loop that is again fastened by whipping.
Next you paint the top of the float with a base coat of white followed by a high visibility colour in the same way as for the porcupine quill and once that’s dry either varnish over the quill, or for a more traditional look, add some strengthening and decorative whippings before varnishing.
I always like to use two or sometimes three coats of varnish to get a really good finish, but once is probably enough if you just want the float to be functional.