Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Soft Hackle September

Soft Hackles - they always work and sometimes they REALLY work. They were my top sunken fly on the EB for a year now and this year they just seemed to beat the Swift River trout especially this month. I will admit that the Swift soft hackles are a size or two smaller than I use on other rivers although a size 12 did work well.

I like to experiment with this style and I believe that I may have posted two of these flies last Spring but a refresher course is in order.

First is an olive body S.H. with size 5x tippet material wrapped around the body. The tippet worked pretty well getting the fly down quick and it gives a slight shine to the fly which also seemed to work. 5x works on sizes down to 14. I like 6x on smaller sizes. Sometimes the Grouse and Flash just seems too bright. The "6x soft hackle" does it just right. Don't ask if one brand of tippet is better than another!!

The dark S.H. has a tiny wingcase of mylar which makes this fly more visible. It works well!

Try them out.

As you all know by now we need rain. The rivers are still mostly fishable in the deeper pools and where the river's flow gets pinched down to give good flow and depth. The good thing is that the weather is now cool enough so water temperature is not an issue. Just one good 1 inch storm will set us up for the rest of the season.

The rest of the season - Last November was great on the EB and the flow was low then too. I'll show you this river. Just email me for availability. The same goes for the Millers and the Swift.



Falsecast said...

Hi Ken - Those are great flies. Do you like them on a 2 fly rig or swing them solo?

Was in fishing in Montana (Madison) for 2 weeks around labor day. Great, always, but today I went to the Swift today for a few hours for the first time since. I only fished Hoppers. I caught a healthy Bow, but most impressive were about 8 or 9 absolutely beautiful Brookies in pre-spawn colors. For some reason it especially blew me away and reminded me that, while Mass isn't Montana from a wild fish standpoint, we still are really lucky to have wild (and/or Native) Brook Trout in our midst. They aren't rod benders, but were like little works of art in their coloration.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


I hardly fish two flies anymore. I swing soft hackles and high-stick them also.

There are more brookies than ever in the Swift. Sometimes I think that there may have been a jail break in the hatchery but these fish are of all ages and sizes just like you would see in an unstocked stream. I don't mind them at all. Maybe the Swift is becoming a brookie river.


Anonymous said...

Soft hackles were the ticket for me in Pittsburg, NH last weekend. I have not had a lot of luck with them before but it was a break through. Nice to mix it up and get away from ones "confidence" flies. High-sticking in pocket water, I got a lot of takes downstream of me on the rise/swing. Look forward to using soft hackles in our local waters...

Can never complain about catching a brookie! Hopefully it does become a brookie stream! What would it take to change the regs to catch and release below Route 9 year-round?

Jo Tango said...

Hi Ken, thank you for sending to me your Millers Guide. I fished some skinny water and landed 2 browns on dries. I'm new to dry fly fishing as of last month.

You're right: it's the best!

It was tremendous fun to keep on the look out for rises, wade/stalk carefully amidst the pools' low water and slow current, cast so as not to line/spook the fish, and present a drag-free dry. Wow....

Bob O said...

The downstream swing is the treat of soft hackles. After the dead drift is over, very often fish connect as I attempt to lift the fly from the water for the next cast.

I need to tie mine more sparsely.
Hate to waste partridge. Ken, yours look great.

I believe these brookies are not hatchery bred. Their colors are tremendous. Some are barely two knuckles long.

I saw a beautiful buttery brown landed on Monday. 16 inches and immaculate. Love seeing these fish being returned to the Swift.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Read Bob O's comment. That's how you fish soft hackles. Tie them SPARSELY. I've seen commercially tied soft hackles where the hackles are lathered on. Way too thick!! The less hackle the better. Read Sylvester Nemes book "the Soft Hackle Fly" and you will know what to do at the fly tying bench. I tie mine (10 to 12) with 1 1/2 turns of hackle and that is maybe too much. I have another technique which is perfect for smaller offerings. That's another post unless someone tempts me.

Bill - Soft Hackles work everywhere where trout are found. Bob O. has had the same experience as you at the end of the drift. So have I for over 40 years. It's a great way to fly fish.


Anonymous said...

Soft hackles are the best tool for after hours fishing in the early summer! When the darkness comes and the fish are rising I nearly always make the switch from dries. Much easier to make casts downstream and swing than worry about dead drifting and keeping your fly afloat in the dark. Many nights you will produce twice the results as well!

tincup said...

Since we are on S H everyone should tie up a couple of garsides sparrows. I tie them down to a size 16 hard to do in smaller sizes with big fingers. Again sparsely and the pheasant plume feather makes it come alive. Its a old classic which you can tie in any color body u want. About those brookies some are so small the browns and bigger rainbows could be feeding on them. Anyone have a pattern for a simple brookie streamer. Did well last week on swift, mostly on terestrials in all shapes and sizes

tincup said...

I will do the tease Ken is the S H method you use on smaller hook sizes to tie sparse turkey feather forward on the hook straight past the eye tie the fly body the push back to form the sparse hackle. That way the hackle wrap is pea size not dime wise in circumference Thanks again for all this freshwater stream help.

Eric said...

Just a word to the wise. On Saturday mid day, my extra fly rod was stolen from the bed of my Truck. My bed has a cover, so you can't see into it. I forgot to lock my tailgate and someone came and opened it, looked inside and walked away with my spare rod. So, moral of the story, remember to lock your doors!!!


Millers River Flyfisher said...

Tin Cup,

You are one observant dude except for the turkey feathers. It's grouse, partridge, starling,hen,etc. I buy grouse by the skin and most of the feathers that are left, after I've picked the 12-14 size out, are too big unless you're tying 8 to 10. Now I can use the large feathers on smaller flies and use the whole skin.

BTW, I am sold on Gartsides Sparrow patterns. It's a good Millers Fly. Problem is I seem to always be in short supply for pheasant skins. Maybe I should take up hunting again!!


Ernie said...

The success you have had with SH flies at the end of the drift sounds like the old technique known as the "Leisenring Lift".

Falsecast said...

Eric that blows. I a sorry to hear that scene is happening at the Swift. Where were you parked? I worry about that as I usually have all of my gear with me fairly visible.

I do assume that the big bows/browns are eating the brookies. Long hook brook trout patterns are popular in Maine. Some of those little brookies look exactly like a "Rapala" :)

Millers River Flyfisher said...

On the other hand a guy that I was guiding there last week left his driver door OPEN. Two hours later a guy came by and asked about the vehicle and said he closed the door. My guy went up to his vehicle and nothing was missing. This was last Saturday morning.