Different Approach For A Soft Hackle

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by GAT, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. Jim, I always tie in my hackle first (except when I forget) and build the body/thorax over it exactly for that reason. The drawback for fragile soft hackle feathers is that if you break one off at this stage, you can't just unwind a few wraps and tie in another.

    Here's a drowned spruce fly pattern I tied up a couple years ago. It has a standard partridge soft hackle behind the head, but has a smaller light tan hen feather palmered flymph style through the thorax.


    partridge & flymph spruce moth.jpg
    Ron McNeal and Gary Knowels like this.
  2. Well, hell... that'll teach me to follow the tying instructions in fly tying books! They have the steps back asswards!:D
  3. Just adding a splash of color to this conversation :cool:


    Blaze of Glory

    Hans W
    GAT likes this.
  4. Nice... did you use a dyed saddle hackle for the feather?
  5. Ahem.... I think he found a naturally blaze orange chicken.:rolleyes:
  6. I watched Dave Hughes tying soft hackles/flymphs/wet flies with this hackling method about twenty years ago. It made sense because you are re-enforcing the hackle stem, one of the weak links in this style of fly.
  7. GAT, Nice looking fly. I like what appears to be the multicolor of the wool (at least on my screen) making it look much more alive. You, Sir, have a PM inbound.

    My avatar fly is a Baillie's (Stwert's) Spider tied using the same technique, hook is a Daiichi 1640 size 14, thread is dark brown Pearsall's Gossamer silk well waxed with cobbler's wax and the hackle is starling. Very effective fly.

    I just volunteered for the Soft Hackle Swap as well.
  8. Okay, here's the story behind John's Green.

    Our friend Rocky found the yarn at a wool shop that was going out of business. He brought it to our fly tying night and we started tying nymphs with the stuff. It is indeed a number of colors that ends up a weird goldish brownish olive color. While we were tying patterns with the yarn, John mentioned that he thought it was a neat green color.

    We all laughed at him and told him it wasn't green. He said it looked green to him. Like I said, he's color blind.

    As we had no way to describe the color of the yarn because of the odd coloring, we decided to call it a John's Green.

    One of our group, Stan, used the yarn to tie soft hackles. The rest of us experimented using the yarn for nymphs and as it turns out, it is a grand color to use to represent golden stonefly nymphs.

    During one of our fishing trips, Stan was catching the hell out of trout and the rest of us were not doing so well. We asked him what he was using and he said "a John's Green Soft Hackle".

    So the name stuck. We started using the yarn to tie traditional style soft hackles and it has worked well for me and the other guys for many years. In fact, last year we were fishing a coastal lake and the only pattern that caught trout was a John's Green Soft Hackle. No other color worked.

    The only problem is that Rocky has the only supply of the yarn. Once he runs out, we're out.

    Fortunately, he doesn't tie flies much these days so his supply will most likely last the rest of my life. Thus, the story of John's Green... which isn't really green.
  9. You never know with Hans... they have odd chickens in The Netherlands ... he uses materials that are not always readily available in The States. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if he isn't plucking feathers off a free range, blaze orange chicken that inhabits The Netherlands.

    He's always tying patterns with strips from a colored plastic bag that he says they use at grocery stores in the meat department...they only use clear plastic bags at the meat departments in this part of the world so as far as I can tell, the only way to get the stuff is to fly to The Netherlands and buy a T-bone at one of their grocery stores. :p
  10. Bob,
    The method is centuries old, though mostly for wet flies. I have used the same approach for tying hackled dries for as long as I have been tying.
    Bit of trivia - when Dave was researching/writing the Wet Flies book, Pete Hidy showed Dave how he tied his Flymphs. Dave adopted the technique and made it a prominent feature in the book.
    Hans W
  11. That would be chicks, Gene, not chickens. You got to get the story right...

    Fresh produce bags - fruit and veg. These mesh bags would let the chicks, eh chickens, escape...

    Hans W
    GAT likes this.
  12. :D LOL...
  13. I do know that it is a very old technique, I merely wanted to point out that it wasn't a recently invented tying method.
  14. Well, I'll tell you this... considering the majority of modern (as within this century) fly tying instruction books indicate the hackle feather is tied on as the last step, unless someone wants to modify every single new age tying book out there... tying the feather in first is NOT the acceptable technique. Barnyard chicken feathers, the urine stained underbelly fur of a vixen fox, silk lines and horsehair leaders were also used in ancient times but you don't see many folks using that stuff these days :D

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