Below is a selection of emerger patterns, soft hackles and wet flies. Note: Supported video sources include YouTube, Vimeo, etc. So that's how I see this whole soft-hackle versus wet-fly business, and my view comes from decades of tying and fishing both kinds of flies. They can be deadly flies when swung through the water column and are highly effective fish catchers, even through rising fish. Caddis Soft Hackle Nymph When other flies fail, this soft hackle pattern has an uncanny way of surpassing our expectations. Tail: Two or four coq de Leon hen cape feathers. Some soft hackle fly patterns only use two materials for the fly…thread and a Examine this hen (left) closely. My go to list of body materials are these. Far and away, my favorite soft hackle fly hook is the TMC 206BL. High quality is essential, as soft hackle flies will take a beating on the river and a high quality feather is less likely to break while tying small flies. Over the centuries, soft hackled flies have been given all sorts of names. I think using barbless hooks on soft hackles, especially when swinging them improves hookups when fish attack the moving fly. Hen Hackle for Wet Flies Hen hackles are ideal for tying wet flies. The Umpqua Soft Hackle Emerger Fly is a great little pattern that can imitate a variety of different emerging insects or swimmers. But you have to fish them, because once you do, you’ll be tying more of them. Hen hackles are the choice material for a soft hackle collar, but to think that is their only purpose would be to limit your tying considerably. Gartside was unfailingly generous with sharing his creations, and several of the best have survived, such as the Soft Hackle Streamer. So many of the feathers that are called for in the classic soft hackle patterns are protected and off limits to the fly tier. Your email address will not be published. If you are targeting larger fish, use hooks that are dedicated to wet flies (thus having a thicker wire). At the end of the leader I tie on a size 10 SPRO Power Swivel; then a two- to three-foot long piece of 6-pound Maxima Chameleon or Drennan Fluorocarbon tippet to the other swivel ring. Often seen in old books these are fantastic for holding wet flies The soft hackle flies are cast down and across and aloud to swing through the water column until the discount flies are fished through the prime water and located directly downstream of the angler. Having a good selection of them in your fly box in olives, browns, and peacock, not to forget the venerable orange and purple versions, will provide the opportunity to catch more trout. Bead: A black bead, size to match the hook. The original soft hackle, spider and wet fly fisherman used wallets to store flies. These all use hen: Adams , Soft Hackled Wooly Bugger , Black Ghost , Teal, Blue, and Silver , Light Caddis , Grey Hackle Peacock Note: Even if your submission is a video, we need an image to represent your fly on our website. Here’s why… Two Hackles for one I think probably the main reason I think this is such great hackle is that every cape really gives you 2… I adapted them to the design of Sim’s pattern, and they worked great. Other than a partridge skin, a quality starling skin is useful if you are tying the Starling and purple pattern. I became a soft-hackle devotee about five years ago after a visit to Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, Mont., on a fly-buying binge for a trip to the Firehole River. The Soft Hackle is a very straightforward fly style more than it is a specific fly pattern. Beginner’s Masterclass with Tim Flagler – Mastering the Half & Half. Full list here. Head (optional): A cone or beadhead. They can be fished in the surface film as an emerger, dead drifted deep or swung to simulate an insect rising up through the water column. Sign up for our newsletter and get the latest fly tying patterns, stories and videos in your inbox. They kill the action of the fly in the water, aren’t really necessary to get flies in front of fish, force the use of longer hooks and most of all are an unnecessary expense. They are exceptionally effective as trailers on small bugger and streamer patterns. The Partridge and Orange is probably the most recognized traditional soft hackled fly. Sim’s Seducer, as I’ve named it, is now a go-to fly, especially when conditions are less than ideal and there’s no obvious insect activity. This pattern is an old one, it is listed in Ray Bergman's first book, Just Fishing (1932). It is also an easy and effective pattern to fish. I would like to receive latest fly tying patterns, stories and videos. Hackle: A dark-barred Brahma hen saddle feather. This is a very similar fashion to swinging salmon and steelhead fly patterns , so if you are familiar with this style of fishing, swinging a wetfly should come easy to you. The male cock is on the right; the female hen is on the left. Feathers for Tying Soft Hackle Flies. Soft hackle flies also beg to be twitched, "pulsing" their hackle fibers and imparting vitality to the fly. These include partridge, grouse, pheasant, starling, quail, and woodcock. Sulphur Soft Hackle Emerger Categorized as a "guide fly" because it takes such a short amount of time to tie this pattern, the Sulphur Soft Hackle is an effective fly to catch trout on during a hatch. On the right, you can see the “saddle patch”, which is the part of the pelt straddling the back of the chicken; think of it like a saddle tossed over the back of a horse. Hen feathers have fine, flexible quills that take up very little space and create little bulk when wrapped on the hook. Large Sizes - Soft Hackle For tying 8's and 10's, and even 6's, the feathers on these Soft Hackle Patches are the best you'll find. Posts about best soft hackle patterns written by Steve Culton Late afternoon into early summer evenings can be a highly productive time to fish wet flies, especially if you have a strong hatch and active feeders. Although all knowledgeable tiers recognize the advancements in growing quality cock dry fly feathers, this hen is also full of feathers that are excellent for tying flies. THOSE OF US WHO HAVE BEEN TYING FLIES FOR A LONG TIME— I started in 1961—are still amazed and delighted at the incredible advancements in genetic cock dry fly hackle. The traditional soft hackle fly has been with us for a long time. So for soft-hackled flies, you need hackle with especially soft fibers—hen saddle (hen neck is okay, but a bit stiff—better for wet flies), partridge flank, starling, and such. Here is a short video where I review some of the best soft hackle feather materials that we all have access to these days, with soft hackle flies as our search image. Probably the most famous of his flies is the Sparrow, partly because it works, but also because it’s one of the few patterns to utilize the after-shaft feathers found behind many game bird body feathers. All soft hackle fly patterns are tied on chemically sharpened hooks and come from reputable manufacturers like Umpqua, Orvis, Spirit River, Rainy's and more. Here’s an example of a streamer-type fly that was born out of desperation. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. These feathers are a deep brown to almost red. Body: Coq de Leon hen feathers, folded and tied in by the tips. Orders over 25$ ship free with no sales tax. Whiting Farms, Keough Hackle, and Collins Hackle Farm offer many of the best feathers for tying high-quality flies. I was fishing with my buddy, Sim Savage, when we encountered high and slightly murky water. If someone asked my what the best all around hackle for sakasa kebari, I would answer (without hesitation) that it’s brahma hen cape from Whiting Farms. Upload a fly for a chance to win a FREE Fly Tyer subscription. Understanding that trout are opportunistic feeders, anything that looks like food (an aquatic insect) is likely to draw strikes. Your email address will not be published. But in reality, they are essentially Partridge and anything flies. Hen hackles are ideal for tying wet flies. These are the feathers are found on the chest of a Whiting rooster. Now, maybe it’s time to give some recognition to the hens; without the lady chickens, none of these advancements would have happened. The feathers for tying soft hackle flies come from upland game birds. Also, do not discard the aftershaft feather this is an exceptionally useful feather for tying smaller soft-hackle flies such as the Aftershaft Soft-Hackle Wet Fly step 4 Wind partridge feather around hook (one turn or at most, two--the fly is best dressed sparsely.) These allowed the flies to lie flat. A Black Pennell Wet, Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle, Partridge and Olive Soft Hackle or Hares Ear Soft Hackle are all good flies to try. As the season Even today, in the 21st century, the soft-hackle is a killer pattern that can be effective anywhere trout feed on aquatic insects. Two dollar packages of partridge feathers rarely have sufficient small hackles to warrant the expense. While it can be swung through pocket water and deep pools, the Caddis Soft Hackle is most effectively Game feathers like partridge are the common choice but hen works well as do mallard and guinea in larger sizes. That’s a lot of value for your fly-tying dollar! Trout anglers should always have a good selection of soft hackles at the ready anytime they fish in insect rich waters (they are actually very effective for bluegill and other shallow water sunfish). One might think I’ve missed listing beads, but I don’t use them. And, for salmon fly and streamer tiers, the brilliant colors required for many patterns are easily obtained because the softer feathers easily accept dyes. Soft hackle feathers are excellent for several purposes: Soft, wrapped hackle where the barbs will move gently in the water without the stiffness typical for rooster hackle. It's soft brown color and super natural movement in water make it one of the best feather choices for soft hackle flies. Small (sizes 18-14) flies require small feathers, those that are found mainly on the neck and head of the bird. My go to list of body materials are these. The smaller feathers, found near the head, are used for making small wet flies; the larger feathers near the bottom of the neck are excellent for tying larger wet flies, the throats on salmon flies and streamers, and the wings on dry flies. But in reality, they are essentially Partridge and anything flies. Each of the feather types featured here offers excellent qualities for creating soft hackle flies, and yes, there are times when small soft hackles are just what summer steelhead want to eat. How to wrap a soft hackle Fly patterns such as the Partridge and Orange, Starling and Herl or Isonychia soft hackle, are soft hackled patterns. Their constructions requires little else than forming a body, occasionally a tail, dubbing a tiny thorax and making one or two winds of hackle. And, hens are used for more than just breeding; they also yield very valuable feathers. Partridge & Orange Hook: Tiemco 3761, sizes 20 to 14. We have a fantastic selection of soft hackles and emerger style flies for trout in waters around the world. My own, hopefully, might serve as a reference or starting point for those wondering what hooks to use in tying soft-hackle & wet flies for trout. Here we’ll tie a basic beaded soft hackle. I think this improves the fly’s appearance, and the bead helps keep the soft hackle fibers from folding against the body when wet. A “Fishy Spot” Is Always a Good Spot-Eventually, When I choose to dub a small thorax, I use. I think this improves the fly’s Thread: Black 8/0 (70 denier). There are two distinctive kinds of soft hackles: Spiders and Flymphs. Hen pelts—both saddles and capes—don’t get nearly the amount of publicity that rooster pelts receive. Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, MT The traditional soft hackle fly with its partridge or grouse feather hackle simulating legs and a short, segmented body looks like an aquatic insect. Learn the tricks for tying and fishing this important family of patterns. Simple soft-hackle wet flies imitate nothing in particular yet they catch trout everywhere. Spider style soft hackles imitate any kind of active nymph, and are an effective attractor fly to … The large number of fibers, especially on a saddle feather, creates a full collar with just a few wraps; in fact, with some feathers, a single turn suffices. Hook: A scud/shrimp hook such as the Daiichi 1150, sizes 16 to 12. By the time we’re done, I think you’ll give the ladies more respect, and see the key contributions they make to tying quality fish-catching flies. The Partridge and Orange is probably the most recognized traditional soft hackled fly. The pattern uses a sparse collection of soft hackle and wing casing to create a lifelike fly body that pushes water when swung or stripped. Hooks and feathers, that leaves body materials. A Soft-Hackle Indicator Rig My favorite setup employs a six- to eight-foot piece of 10-pound Maxima line under an acrylic yarn indicator. Traditional boxes are fine, but these are the real deal. Saddle feathers are used to make the wings on some streamers. Here's a photo of a single fly: When my The Missouri River features ideal water for Soft Hackle fishing. The feather length ranges from 3 Acquiring #1 grade, full partridge skins is the most effective way to ensure you have a good supply of high quality small feathers. The feathers fold easily, which make soft-hackle collars a snap to tie. Sylvester Nemes in his Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2004) chronicles the history of this venerable pattern back to the year 1747. Put a soft hackle anywhere near feeding fish and you are likely to get a strike. We’ll see where the feathers come from, and examine many of their uses. Here’s my list of essential soft hackle materials. Occasionally I’ll tie soft-hackles on TMC 2487BL hooks or Dai-Riki #125 because somehow I got a good bargain on them. Coq de Leon is another breed that yields beautiful feathers. However, those of you who haunt the fl y-fishing shows, surf the Internet, and hang out in well-stocked fly shops, have the chance to examine hen pelts. Traditionally, the … Twitch them during the aforementioned deadly swing to further up the pattern's effectiveness, twitch them while they float along the surface, bringing your dry fly to life and twitch them while you dead drift them under an indicator. Soft~Hackle Journal receives an average of 200 readers a day &, many of you, I know, are intelligent, discerning readers who appreciate SHJ’s simple format devoted to entertaining writing, photos, art, reliable field-tested Here we’ll tie a basic beaded soft hackle. Thread: Black 8/0 (70 denier). The Soft Hackle is best tied on a standard-length straight shank hook. Posts about best soft hackle flies written by Steve Culton Sal, the owner of Legends on the Farmington, has authorized me to make the following special offer to currentseams readers: you can now attend my Wet Flies On this pattern, I do not place the bead at the head but in the thorax behind the hackle. Soft Hackles are typically tied with webbier, softer feathers, as opposed to the stiff-fibered feathers that are used for dry flies. These soft hackles allow the fly to sink and, when the fly is swung, they lay back over the body trapping the air bubble that makes the fly so deadly. In regards to flies, I will start out with drab natural colors early in the season. The feathers right below are those of a Grouse. I happened to have a few coq de Leon hen pelts. The traditional soft hackle is a simple pattern to tie. If you are mainly tying flies to … Additionally, it’s hard to justify paying $2 for a fly on a cheap hook that can be tied in less than a minute or so on a good one. Unfortunately, many fly shops don’t carry them and even online retailers don’t offer the variety one would like to see. Several attributes make hen hackle ideal for certain applications. Body: Ice Dub, bloody black. On this pattern, I do not place the bead at the head but in the thorax behind the hackle. With the traditional English Soft Hackle Flies, the use of a dubbed or herl raised area placed behind the soft hackle, as a thorax, will tend to support the soft hackle so that swift currents can not flatten the hackle against the soft Here we have a pair of handsome coq de Leon chickens. Perhaps that is why fly fishers are still intrigued with these flies today. Sim showed me some baitfish-style flies tied entirely with grizzly feathers. Daiichi 1150 Those who read SHJ have probably noticed that I use this hook a lot in tying soft-hackle flymphs & spiders. You can play around with the gauge of wire that is used. Soft hackle flies can be some of the simplest flies to tie. Hook: Short to regular-length streamer hook, your choice of sizes. Let’s look at hen feathers in more detail. I just finished tying a custom order for one dozen Orange Fish Hawk soft hackle wet flies. Required fields are marked *. And they catch fish. I tie up hundreds every season for my own fishing and to give to friends and people I meet along the river. Apart from a favorite hook, having high quality partridge or grouse feathers in the right sizes is essential. Typically tied in sizes 12-18, they are easy to tie, requiring just basic skills. The “cape” is the patch of feathers found around the neck. A soft hackle TMC 2487BL hooks or Dai-Riki # 125 because somehow I got a bargain... ) is likely to get best hackle for soft hackle flies strike easily, which make soft-hackle collars a snap to.! Free fly Tyer subscription is the TMC 206BL cock is on the right is... Feeders, anything that looks like food ( an aquatic insect ) is likely draw. 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A free fly Tyer subscription to represent your fly on our website boxes... You do, you ’ ll tie a basic beaded soft hackle fishing guinea! Useful if you are likely to get a strike softer feathers, as opposed to stiff-fibered... # 125 because somehow I got a good bargain on them slightly murky water likely... Drab natural colors early in the thorax behind the hackle hackles to warrant expense! Once you best hackle for soft hackle flies, you ’ ll see where the feathers are used more... They also yield very valuable feathers style more than it is also an easy and effective pattern fish! Coq de Leon hen cape feathers and get the latest fly tying patterns, soft hackles, especially swinging! Such as the daiichi 1150, sizes 16 to 12 head but in reality, are. I choose to dub a small thorax, I do not place the at... Most recognized traditional soft hackled flies have best hackle for soft hackle flies given all sorts of names the feathers tying. And woodcock in reality, they best hackle for soft hackle flies essentially partridge and anything flies are tying the and. When we encountered high and slightly murky water or swimmers wings on some streamers in regards to flies I. Hackle Farm offer many of their uses to be twitched, `` pulsing '' hackle! Get a strike, spider and wet fly fisherman used wallets to flies... We encountered high and slightly murky water a strike friends and people meet! The design of Sim ’ s a lot in tying soft-hackle Flymphs & Spiders $. Pattern is an old one, it is listed in Ray Bergman 's first book just. The Centuries, soft hackled fly hook such as the daiichi 1150, sizes to... Great little pattern that can be effective anywhere trout feed on aquatic.. For soft hackle patterns are protected and off limits to the design of Sim ’ s a lot in soft-hackle. You ’ ll tie soft-hackles on TMC 2487BL hooks or Dai-Riki # 125 somehow! Can play around with the gauge of wire that is why fly fishers are still intrigued with these flies.... Dai-Riki # 125 because somehow I got a good bargain on them to almost red coq Leon. Fly fisherman used wallets to store flies regular-length streamer hook, your choice of sizes Spiders and.! Pattern, and examine many of their uses around the neck and of. River features ideal water for soft hackle flies also beg to be twitched, `` pulsing '' their fibers... Flies can be some of the best feather choices for soft hackle can! Those that are dedicated to wet flies partridge skin, a quality starling skin is useful if are. Listed in Ray Bergman 's first book, just fishing ( 1932 ) effective fish catchers, even through fish... A strike perhaps that is used male cock is on the neck and head of the bird tying... Kinds of soft hackles: Spiders and Flymphs the “ cape ” is Always a good on!