Quickly turning into some of my favorite flies to fish, soft hackle patterns are delicate-looking flies that can elicit incredible strikes from fish. Based on the methods in which they're tied, soft hackles and wet flies can represent a variety of insects and stages, plus be fished throughout the water column. If this is an area you are not yet familiar with, I recommend spending some time in the next year to become more proficient in the tying and fishing of these patterns. Be sure to check out the "Resources" page for a great book I recommend related to soft hackles...
The Partridge and Orange is a traditional soft hackle that still works very effectively today. The pattern, utilizing silk thread for a body, can represent many insects, including caddisflies and various mayflies. I like to fish this as a dropper tied above my blood knot connection for the tippet.
I love to fish patterns that come with the recommendation to use with heavier tippet because fish absolutely crush them on the take...and this is one of them! I first learned of this pattern many years ago from Eric Stroup and Skip Galbraith, and the "Purple Soft Hackle" has had a spot in my fly box ever since. This fly resembles the emerger stage of the Isonychia Bicolor (aka Slate Drake and Leadwing Coachman), and it's one that can be fished from the summer into the fall. During this video, I first tie the pattern, and then go into specifics regarding its use fly fishing.
In the video, I reference Eric's book, "Common-Sense Fly Fishing." You can find out more about his book at the following link: http://www.amazon.com/Common-Sense-Fly-Fishing-Simple-Lessons/dp/193475307
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. I recommend fishing this pattern with a split shot at the beginning of the hatch, eventually drying it and fishing the Sulphur Soft Hackle on the surface as the fish begin to feed on emergers and duns. This is also a great fly to swing, with great strikes from fish!
How can you go wrong with one of Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard's favorite flies? This soft hackle, developed by Nick Nicklas from Blue Ribbon Flies, has some great materials that, when combined, prove to be very effective on trout. In this tutorial, the pattern is tied to mimic the Slate Drake, though the Shakey Beeley can be modified to match the natural fly of your choice.
This is an effective caddis that utilizes Hungarian Partridge fibers for legs. The Bird of Prey Caddis is intended to represent both the caddis pupa and emerger stages, and variations are discussed in this tutorial. When John Anderson created this pattern, he kept everything simple, easily one of the reasons this fly works so well!
The Spider soft hackle is a fly that always seems to produce, thus I varied it slightly with a hot spot in the thorax area of this fly. Using Glo-Brite for that hot spot really gives the fish something to key on, especially when using this pattern in a high-pressured area.
This soft hackle does an excellent job representing various caddisflies and mayflies, depending on the body color you select. I typically will fish this Bead Head Crystal Soft Hackle in the lower third of the water column for fish actively feeding on caddis larvae.
Though not the traditional soft hackle most expect, Mark DeFrank's pattern is intended for steelhead from the Great Lakes. Combining traditional soft hackle with modern materials, this is a fly that works excellent on steelhead, though also versatile when fly fishing for trout. I recommend trying out this DeFrank's Grim Reaper!
Utilizing a dubbing loop to create a "buggier" body, this tutorial shares a favorite fly of many, the Soft Hackle Hare's Ear. This fly most commonly is used to represent the many caddis found in our rivers and streams, and without the bead, can match the emerger stage nicely. During the video, you'll notice that I made slight variations from the original, thus feel free to modify this pattern to match the natural insects in your home waters.
The Partridge and Orange is a traditional soft hackle that still works very effectively today. This pattern is slightly different from others I have on this site, being that I am using a different feather for the hackle. The pattern, utilizing silk thread for a body, can represent many insects, including caddisflies and various mayflies. I like to fish this as a dropper tied above my blood knot connection for the tippet.
Being one of the most popular nymphs of all time, naturally variations of Frank Sawyer's Pheasant Tail have become abundant. In this video, I share two variations of the Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail, and explain why I made each of the changes. These are both excellent patterns that deserve a place in your box.
Featured in this video are the S402BL hooks from Allen Fly Fishing; you can find those hooks and many others at the following link:http://www.allenflyfishing.com/n212bl-nymph-streamer-2xl-barbless/
For more information on Hemingway’s products, you can visit Frosty Fly’s website: https://frostyfly.com
Many flies have been modified over the years, though their "variant" versions rarely outproduce the original. This fly may prove to be that one! Though distinctly different from the original Hare's Ear, this modified Guide's Choice is a killer pattern that can represent different insects at various stages. In this version, the pattern is tied on a jig hook and intended to drift lower in the water column. Definitely experiment with the pattern and determine which color combinations and weights work best for you.
Like many others, I enjoy tying and fishing patterns that offer versatility, and the Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail is one that fits that criteria! This simple-to-tie pattern can be fished as a wet fly or an emerger, and with modifications, it can easily be tailored to be a successful pattern in your local waters. In this video, we go over the tying procedures, and then discuss some ways that you can vary the pattern to ensure success on the waterways you fish.
In this video, Andrew Dang is the guest tier sharing a great pattern, the Diamond Caddis. Andrew shows us just how simple this pattern is to tie, and it does an excellent job of representing the Grannom caddis. Andrew is one of the young individuals in our sport that we must continue to support, and I greatly appreciate him taking the time to film this fly for all of us.
For this fly tying tutorial, I am proud to feature a guest tier, Mr. Dave Stewart, host of the Wet Fly Swing podcast. Dave shares one of his favorite summer steelhead flies, the Benevolent Dictator.
This fly tying tutorial describes the process for tying a traditional North Country fly known as a Dark Bloa. Similar to a wet fly, soft hackle, or spider, this fly features minimal components, though can be highly effective in various situations. A book is referenced during the video, entitled "A Guide to North Country Flies" by Mike Harding; this resource is extremely informative when tying these flies.
In this "Tips & Techniques" fly tying video, I explain some common uses for hen hackle. As a beginning fly tyer over 25 years ago, I knew little about the differences between hen and rooster, thus I wanted to give a brief overview and show a few common applications for the actual hen feathers. There are many more uses for hen hackle, but this video features the common ones that I employ, especially with JV Hen Hackle.
The various applications I show are: Tailing and legs (especially for use with patterns such as the Copper John), beards on wet fly patterns, and soft hackles. These are just a few possibilities for utilizing hen hackles.