Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Early Winter Musings - Jazzed Up Soft Hackles And A Rivers Update

"Adopting the low visibility of a natural predator is a basic part of improving your presentation game. A degree of stealth is important for consistent success. Just throttle back a tad and move slowly. A little consideration for these things goes a long way toward fooling those big trout, whether or not they are smart and educated, although you needn't go so far as the camouflage jumpsuit and face paint of some of our more hard-core brothers. Hell, these guys spook me" Bob Wyatt - What Trout Want - The Educated Trout and Other Myths

Soft hackles have a range of construction possibilities that go back hundreds of years. We have reduced the construction in many cases to a single body material, the same dubbed thorax (or not) and then the hackle. I do this all of the time and I don't think that I catch fewer trout because of it. But I do know that the history of this style has incorporated multiple materials much in the same way that its cousin, THE ATLANTIC SALMON FLY, has done. "Building" a fly in the classic sense improves your skill as a tier. Color and proportion come into play and they just look sooooo smart! My simple soft hackles are and will be first in my subsurface arsenal but there are times to be creative and have some fun. The "Ostrich" fills the bill and it catches trout.

Hook - dry or wet style size 12 - 14 (if it's tied smaller you get that "squashed butterfly" look. Ostrich will do that)

Tag (that's the butt end of the fly) - bright orange floss or kevlar

Body - dark olive floss

Thorax - brown or black ostrich herl, about 4 turns

Hackle - partridge

Now, I've been stripping the partridge fibers and lashing them to the hook to get a sparse profile which always works for me. The ostrich herl is then used to cover the clipped butt ends of the partridge and then the partridge is then folded back and the fly is then whip finished. You are done.

Materials and colors are endless and are fun on these early winter evenings. It's more fun then cranking out walt's worms and other attractor stuff.

The Millers peaked late last week at 800+ and is now just south of 500 cfs. If you want to give it a shot just be careful. Use Mop flies as deep as you can get them. They worked for me!

The Swift is still producing as the brook trout spawning run is on it's final lap. Still plenty of bows and the occasion brown in the mix to get your heart pounding. I've been fishing and guiding in the "forgotten" spots and have been doing very well. Contact me if you need a guide!



Anonymous said...

Neat looking fly. I've forgotten about using ostrich herl but now I can't wait to use it.

Peter B.

Brendan Mackinson said...

I agree with Peter... very good looking fly. There is a new book about soft hackles by Allen McGee that has lots of unique and creative patterns and fly designs for all levels of the water column if anyone is looking for more ideas and inspiration.

Parachute Adams said...

Great looking soft hackle, Ken. I like to vary them too, sometimes working some CDC fibers into the mix. One great thing about tying flies is trying different things to see if they work or not. Most times they do!

Regards, Sam

Brk Trt said...

Ken, that fly looks great....must tie a few.
Snow on the ground, I know it's on the way for us.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


If I could no longer fly fish I would still tie flies!!

Brk Trt,

I think I've got ostrich herl on the brain. May need to tie dozens to be cured!


Parachute Adams said...

Same for me, Ken. If I couldn't fish anymore I would still tie flies. I haven't been able to get out recently, but I still am tying flies, mostly dismantling "duds" lately or flies I'm not sure why I tied them in the first place, then retying flies I know I'll use. I hope go get out again soon because I sure do miss it.

Regards, Sam