On My Vise: There’s just something about a soft hackle..

What is it about soft hackle patterns that makes them such great fish catchers?

“the close enough”

The other night I was sitting at my vise trying to figure out what to tie, and once again I found myself migrating over to soft hackles.

I love them. I Love to tie them and I love to fish them.

For me, when tying this type of fly a “close enough” It doesn’t matter what kind or what type of materials; or that it’s an exact replica of what insect it’s trying to imitate. Just that it has movement and The characteristics of a generic food source for trout.

These are tied to imitate; as I call, a “close enough “rendition of something that’s ‘swimming for its life’, or is at the end of it’s life.

soft hackles; they catch fish.

This pattern here is nothing specific but it works.

Some may say “well what is it?”

“In the water what it represents is what?”

Close view.
Close up

“But what’s it supposed to be?”

-One of the many insects caught in the current that have drown?

-An emerging insect that is swimming up to the surface?

The truth is I don’t know and we may never know. It’s all about trial and error, seeing what works and what doesn’t. And if it doesn’t? Well.. then you were just taught a lesson on what doesn’t work.

“Smash and Grab”

Sometimes when I’m on the river, I’ll grab a mayfly out of the air.. smash it in my hand and inspect it. Not so much that is destroyed, but enough that it’s crippled.

Then I flip through that soft hackle fly box and find what I consider to be “close enough “

And this here is what I call one of those “close enough “soft hackles.

Gold tinsel adds a little flash.
Gold tinsel adds a little flash.

I could give you a recipe here to tie this, which I will; but in reality it’s whatever you think looks like something where you fish.

What I like to tell beginner tyers, and also the participants in our project healing waters group is to just Have fun. Have fun tying soft hackled flies, because you will have fun fishing them, and when that fish grabs onto that fly at the end of your swing.. you’ll know..because they don’t take soft hackles with an easy bite.

Oversized partridge feathers are always a great choice

Hook: Wet/Nymph hook or a Light Nymph Hook (if you will be fishing it higher in the water column or with dry fly floatant to fish in the film)

Dubbing: a mixture of squirrel from the body and rabbit mix from the mask in your colors of choice

Ribbing: wide gold tinsel

Hackle: an oversize partridge feather on the lighter side usually found closer to the neck.

Soft Hackle Tutorials

How to wrap a soft hackle

Too much hackle, not enough hook -Part 1

Too much hackle, not enough hook -Part 2

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