soft hackle patterns

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by mike doughty, Aug 21, 2004.

  1. mike doughty

    mike doughty Honorary Member

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    can somebody tell me if they are supposed to represent anything in particular? they have been working extremely well for me.
     
  2. luv2fly2

    luv2fly2 Active Member

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    soft hackle

    i wonder if they would work on the madison river? what type of water are you fishing, lake ,river, fast, slow? mike w.
     
  3. mike doughty

    mike doughty Honorary Member

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    arkansas river, colorado. it's a medium sized river with slow to fast currents.
     
  4. DLoop

    DLoop Creating memories one cast at a time

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    Just fished the madison three weeks ago. Fished soft hackles on the swing and it was very productive.
     
  5. Obsessed

    Obsessed Member

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    From what I have heard, soft hackles are believed to represent emerging insects, particularly caddis and mayflies.
     
  6. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

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    Soft hackled flies

    Soft hackled flies have been in use for a couple hundred years. During that period, they have been fished with great success in a wide variety of water types and depending on how they are fished to imitate a wide variety of insects. Some of the more common uses are to imitate mayfly nymphs or caddis pupa that have either become dislodged and are tumbling along the bottom or rising up through the water column to emerge using the Leisenring Lift credited to ‘Big’ Jim Leisenring, (casting the fly upstream, letting it sink on the way down, and then raising the rod and the line so that the fly lifts “naturally through the currents”, supposedly resembling a hatching nymph). They can be greased and used on or near the surface as an emerger or even a long legged insect that has fallen in the water. Many anglers used and still use them only as droppers.

    The availability of today’s stiff hackles are a recent development. We have these wonder hackles and 27 different ways to tie a wing. Old flies typically had solid feather wings and softer hackles. They did not float very well, especially in fast water. Some of the early soft hackle flies were simply dry flies with the wing removed.
    H.C. Cutcliffe, in 1863 writes, “A winged fly washed by the water looks more like a little roll of the dung of a rat than a fly”.
    Usually they are intended to be impressionistic rather than imitative but there are, of course variations. One style is to use two hackles, one is the wing hackle cut off the bottom of the fly and the leg hackle cut off the top of the fly, so that “a delicate suggestion of the legs of the nymph and of the withdrawn wings of the emerging insect is obtained.
    In short, they are the universal fly extremely simple, elegant and buggy. They can be used in any type of water using any technique you can dream up.

    Much has been written about soft hackled flies.
    A good place to start is with Two Centuries of Soft Hackled Flies by Sylvester Nemes. This is a collection from the history of writings on soft hackled flies. The selection and photos of the flies are as good as it gets. This will likely be Nemes’ last book, (he is in his eighties), and the first print run is only 10,000. There is no guarantee of a second printing.
    You can probably get a copy from Feathercraft. If they say they don’t have them in stock ask to speak directly with the owner Ed Story.
    Much of this post has been lifted from this book.

    TC
     
  7. SpokaneFisherman

    SpokaneFisherman Member

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    More Soft Hackle Reading

    Another book by Nemes that you may want to read is "The Soft-Hackled Fly: A Trout Fisherman's Guide". It's more annecdotal than the previously mentioned title. But a good read none the less.

    Also try tying up some BH Hare's Ear nymphs with a Partridge hackle. They seem to work well on any river with a caddis hatch. I usually cast upstream and dead drift and let the fly swing at the bottom of the drift (which is when I get the most strikes). It's killer

    :D
     
  8. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Tim,

    I love soft hackles :-D Thanks for the pointer to Nemes' latest book. I have two of his earlier titles but was unaware of his magnum opus. BTW, Amazon has it for $23.77 plus shipping.

    Kent

     
  9. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

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    Kent

    I am not sure about magnum opus but it is almost surely his last. According to Ed Story, who helped edit, much of the content has already been covered in Nemes previous books but the improved photos and pattern recipes alone are well worth it.
    You will not be disappointed.

    TC

    On second thought, given the improvments, maybe magnum opus is appropriate.
     
  10. ceviche

    ceviche Active Member

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    Japanese "Tenkara" Soft Hackle Flies

    Here's some interesting patterns from Japan.
    http://www.itow.com/amago/b-streams/flytying/tenkara.html
    Check out the "reversed spiders" on the top row of flies found in the above link.

    On the following link, there are some more flies.
    http://www.itow.com/amago/b-streams/flytying/tenkara3.html
    The dubbing for the flies on the bottom row comes from the "cotton" that comes from a certain kind of "flowering fern."

    This next link has tying instructions and an interesting fly presentation technique for these flies.
    http://www.itow.com/amago/b-streams/flytying/tenkara2.html


    Yoshikazu Fujioka's website is pretty cool. Not only are there the Tenkara flies and recipes, but he also has drawings of trout and salmon that are in league with James Prosek's works. Overall, very enjoyable. The one downside is the author's command of English. Sometimes you have to work to understand what he's trying to say.
     
  11. luv2fly2

    luv2fly2 Active Member

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    soft hackle

    i have not tied or fished soft hackles. what would be a good hook size and color to start with? i will be on the madison in 10 days. mike w.
     
  12. mike doughty

    mike doughty Honorary Member

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    i like to use the curved shank nymph hooks in size 16's and 14's. i do well with reds, yellows, olives, greens and greys. i use floss for the body, sometimes a gold wire rib, and a small partridge feather for the hackle, simple. i have done well also with a peacock herl body. i have used different style hooks, but the one mentioned is the that i prefer. good luck
     
  13. mike doughty

    mike doughty Honorary Member

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    i like to use the curved shank nymph hooks in size 16's and 14's. i do well with reds, yellows, olives, greens and greys. i use floss for the body, sometimes a gold wire rib, and a small partridge feather for the hackle, simple. i have done well also with a peacock herl body. i have used different style hooks, but the one mentioned is the that i prefer. good luck. here's a thought, while you are in montana fishing i am supposed to be heading back to korea, why don't you take my spot and i'll take yours, that's fair isn't it? then i can let you know how the soft hackles worked. :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :beer2:
     
  14. luv2fly2

    luv2fly2 Active Member

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    soft hackles

    mike d, thanks for the info on starting. i will pass on the switch as i have not been to the madison and i want to get my grandson into some trout over a foot long. i think i will begin with a peacock body. mike williams
     
  15. ceviche

    ceviche Active Member

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    Curved hooks?

    Your usage of the curved shank nymph hooks (scud type?) is interesting. The ones I've tied were all on straight shanked hooks--like I've seen in books. Is that your own innovation? Was that idea born from trying to better imitate an emerging caddis? I'd like to hear more on this.
     
  16. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Since most traditional soft hackle patterns (spiders) are tailless, try tying them on 1X short and 1X wide gape hooks like TMC 102s, 106s or Alec Jackson's new North Country hooks (available at Avid Angler.)

    K
     
  17. DLoop

    DLoop Creating memories one cast at a time

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    Mike, PM me your address and I'll send you some that worked for me earlier this month.
     
  18. luv2fly2

    luv2fly2 Active Member

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    soft hackles

    dloop, how do you fish soft hackles? i heard it is like swinging damp flies for steelhead. i have so much to do at ennis i wont have time to sleep. i have to fish hoppers, fish bugs and johns, hopefully fish soft hackles, check out all the bars and cafes, go to the ennis flyfishing show,etc, etc. mike williams
     
  19. DLoop

    DLoop Creating memories one cast at a time

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    Yep, just like swinging flies for steelhead.

    You can experiment by placing a soft hackle as a trailer (18" - 24") or so behind your favorite streamer.

    In Ennis, a convenient and often overlooked swing water is just a few feet out of town. Head toward the bridge and look upstream a few hundred yards. That section of water, working back down to the bridge produced some of the best browns of our trip.

    You can access this area by parking in the fishing access area near the end of the bridge (opposite the town side) wade upstream until you can cross to the other side. Starting swinging your way down to the bridge. Good luck. Lots of great shops in town provide good advice.
     
  20. mike doughty

    mike doughty Honorary Member

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    luv2fly2, swinging them is the more traditional way, but i have always dead drifted them like nymphs and that has always worked good for me. as far as the hook choice, i have tied them on stright shank as well, but at one point i had an over abundance of the curved shank hooks and started tying the soft hackles on them. i like the looks better on the curved shank, but both have been productive. i don't use the scud hooks, but the hooks with the long gradual curve. hope this helps
     

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