Soft hackles and copper john-athon

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Thomas Williams, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. Ron Eagle Elk

    Ron Eagle Elk Active Member

    Gene, A wise man once told me the only thing written in stone about fly fishing and fly tying is that nothing is written in stone.
  2. zen leecher aka bill w

    zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    I think I'd tie my soft hackles bushy and evaluate things streamside. Then pluck out the hackle as needed for desired fiber count.
  3. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    I also like them sparse. 1-2 turns.

    Here's one fresh off the vise. Same fly as my avatar.
    Hook - 14
    Tail - Peacock sword tips paired
    Body - Pearsall's 6B
    Rib - Copper wire
    Hackle - Hun partridge
    P1000348 C&R2+.jpg

    Here's a small working box of #14's & 16's. Some used, some just generally mangled from living in a box. Except for the Bailey/Stewart spiders and the fuzzy tan caddis the rest are 1-2 turns.

  4. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

    Great looking flies. Mine are not as pretty. I just discovered that my eyes have deteriorated a lot since I last dressed flies.

    That peacock does a lot for the fly.
  5. Dave Evans

    Dave Evans Active Member

    Tim, very nice! 6B? Can't seem to find that one. Is it a rusty color? Dave
  6. zen leecher aka bill w

    zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    There is a 6B and it's not usually in a silk catalog.
  7. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

  8. GAT

    GAT Active Member

    I'd like to see how a soft hackle looks under water. I don't know if a pattern with very sparse hackle fibers creates more movement or not. It is possible the few hackles cling to the body instead of flaring.

    We assume that few fibers pulsate more than heavy fibers but do we know that to be a fact or just an assumption?

    Wish I still had my aquarium set up in my garage.
  9. Dave Evans

    Dave Evans Active Member

    Had to laugh at this comment. We are redoing "the den" this summer and that is where my fly tying bench and the big screen TV are located. Spouse said it was too much of a man cave and she wanted to add a big aquarium along one wall. You could have spotted my grin from Seattle!
  10. GAT

    GAT Active Member

    The bigger the better!!!
  11. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

    I would imagine that the hackle would look like legs when retrieved through the water. I am a follower of Charlie Brooks, and he suggested that bugs should be tied "in the round". His Assam Dragon is a typical example, but that is another bug and another story.
  12. Tim Cottage

    Tim Cottage Formerly tbc1415

    To hold the fibers away from the body wrap your hackle so it stands out in the first place (not swept back) then you just build a lump directly behind the hackle to hold it out. The lump can be tying thread, dubbing, peacock herl, whatever. Most people would probably build the lump first and wrap in front of it but it can be done either way. I think Hans has a video here somewhere that advocates hackle first.

    I like to believe that fewer fibers pulsate more effectively. If you do find out differently please don't tell me. Its one bubble I would like to keep intact.

  13. GAT

    GAT Active Member

    I also agree with Charlie's "in the round" but the patterns I've seen of his are tied fairly heavy with hackle and primarily meant to represent stonefly nymphs. I know the fibers are supposed to represent legs but we're taking about six legs and short of a giant stonefly nymph, how much of the legs do trout see on a size 14 emerger?

    A GRHE really doesn't have legs but is simply thicker at the thorax, yet it works.

    I wonder what would happen if we found a soft hackle pattern that was continually working and slowly started removing hackle fibers. It would be interesting to know at what point the pattern stops working... or will it continue to work with no hackles?
  14. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

    Well, that sounds like a good theory, but I am still trying to get my mind around the idea that fish can count. Two things that perhaps come into play. One, how hungry the fish actually are, and two, how they actually see the fly. I would think that a fly would appear differently, at say ten feed below the surface, than they do in the air above. How much this would influence the fish, I donno.

    Bottom line, if it works, keep doing what you are doing.
  15. zen leecher aka bill w

    zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    There's no bad wetfly. Most anything will catch fish. And fish are into the number 13.
  16. GAT

    GAT Active Member

    That IS the bottom line... if it works... who cares why??? We can come up with all the theories we want but consider what the spin guys use... most of it doesn't look like anything in the natural world.

    I like to investigate assumptions as to how a pattern actually looks in the water.

    This all started with a mud puddle.

    Long ago, Rock and I were walking away from a disappointing fishing attempt on a creek. We were using traditional style dry flies ... Adams, I think. We decided to cast into a mud puddle in the road just to see how the patterns landed on water.

    We found that many times, the patterns did not land with the wings upright but on their sides. We tried different casting styles and even tried different size tippet material. It didn't make much difference. Sometimes the patterns would land on the surface as planned and other times they landed sideways.

    The round hackles caused the problem. The shape of the hackles caused the pattern to land any which way.

    About this time, parachute style patterns came on the scene. I tried casting some parachute patterns I tied in my aquarium and they did land with the wing up and the hook at a right angle to the surface. This is when I decided to switch to parachute style patterns.

    Sure, I still use traditional style dry fly patterns from time to time and they do catch fish... but, I have no idea if they landed as assumed on the surface when the fish took them. The parachute style doesn't always land with the wing up but it does at a more consistent rate than the the traditional style.

    Because of a mud puddle, I started looking more closely at how patterns actually look when in use instead of assuming how they will look.

    One pattern that amazes me that lands completely differently than fly anglers assume is a cripple. You need a special hook and some manner of adding weight at the butt for the hook to sink below the surface with the wing upright.

    Basically, how most guys tie a cripple is with the wing forward over the hook eye and then a traditional hackle. Somehow, they think the configuration of the wing over the eye causes the butt of the hook to sink and the wing is upright. Test after test after test in my aquarium and the cripple did not end up floating as it is supposed to.

    You can't tie a traditional style hackle and it suddenly becomes a parachute style simply by tying the wing in over the hook eye? No. It doesn't work that way.

    You can't overcome the weight of the hackle and the wing without some manner of weight to drag the hook bend down to a 45 or 90 degree angle to the surface.

    You are far better off tying a parachute style pattern on a special bent hook that will sink below the surface than assuming you can create the desired effect with a typical dry fly hook by using a marabou tail and the wing tied forward over the eye. The marabou does not create enough weight to sink the hook bend and shank below the surface. You'd need A LOT of marabou to gain that result.
  17. zen leecher aka bill w

    zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    The rear end of the fly could be weighted to aid in sinking it.
  18. GAT

    GAT Active Member

    Yes, and you'd need to add weight at the hook bend... which would make for a strange looking pattern :)
  19. GAT

    GAT Active Member

    This is the very fly I was using with great success on Saturday at Olalla Lake. Notice it is heavily hackled. Now, would it have worked better with less hackle? I don't see how. It was already catching trout hand over fist. Sure, it isn't as pretty as a traditional style soft hackle to the human eye but the sucker worked.

    Why? No clue. What matters is it did.

    Patrick Gould likes this.
  20. Patrick Gould

    Patrick Gould Active Member

    Perfect. A little work of art.