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Thread: Soft Hackle fly question

  1. #1

    Default Soft Hackle fly question

    I'm going to show my limited entomology knowlege w/ this one. Regarding swinging soft hackles/flymphs, the swing poses some questions for me. I've been having alot of fun this summer experimenting with this tactic. I know this is a very old method of fishing, but it's new to me. I can understand how-say- a steelhead fly or large trout fly would entice a "strike" when swung, being that they are imitating "swimming" fish. But a soft hackle is imitating pupa/emergers. I know these natural bugs must have the ability to swim at least enough to actually "swing" in the current, and not just dead drift all the time. Some of the small patterns I've caught trout on were swung through some pretty fast currents (swung at a pretty good clip). I guess I'm having a hard time imagining actual nymphs/pupa swimming enough to combat the current and attempt to get broadside to the current. The naturals are pretty small, and it seems their small "gas" pockets would not be enough to do anything other than dead drift. Yet, soft hackles are most often swung and not dead drifted. How do these buggers "swim", and not dead drift?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Soft Hackle fly question

    Sorry I can't answer the question, and I think it's a great one. Soft hackles are interesting because they're like bugger to me...you seem to be able fish them any way possible and they catch fish. I fish them a lot up high in still waters towed and stripped.

  3. Default Re: Soft Hackle fly question

    not sure why fish take them on the swing, but boy do they. i love fishing soft hackles tight-lined on a short sink tip. i have held the soft hackle in the current at the end of the swing and have caught several fish this way. in fact, i have tight-lined midges and caught fish. my buddy tight-lines scuds and catches fish. i rarely dead drift any of my flies anymore once i got the hang of tight-lining.

  4. Default Re: Soft Hackle fly question

    I've caught more big fish swinging flies than using any other technique. I guess what swinging flies simulate are insects being floated/swept downstream, which actually happens.

    What's great is that fish see the fly before the leader or line; and I find swinging flies a relaxing way to fish.

    If I cast a soft hackle wet fly across stream and retrieve I wonder if it looks like a small fish to a trout.

    Randy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    quiet corner, ct
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    8,502

    Default Re: Soft Hackle fly question

    Not all nymphs rise gradually to the surface or wash along helplessly in a current.. Some nymphs swim very well, even faster than the fish that chase them.

    May flies can be broken down into 4 basic categories. Swimmers, clingers, crawlers, and borrowers and you'll find each variety in they're own type of environment.
    "Swimmers" such as baetis and isonychia are found in the classic pool-riffle-run stretches.

    If you've ever seen trout breach right out of the water during a rise, they're chasing fast swimming caddis.
    The soft hackle swing is especially effective during such a hatch.
    The simpler the outfit, the more skill it takes to manage it, and the more pleasure one gets in his achievements.” --- Horace Kephart

  6. Likes imxer, chi flyfisher liked this post
  7. #6

    Default Re: Soft Hackle fly question

    Good info guys, thanks.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Soft Hackle fly question

    ramset,

    Here is a name to some books you should look into...don't know if you've heard of him but, Sylvester Nemes is the "grandfather" of soft hackle fly fishing!

    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Two-Centuries-Soft-Hackled-Flies-1747-Present/dp/0811700488/ref=la_B001JS5UJS_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=13748567 35&sr=1-3"]Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies: A Survey of the Literature Complete with Original Patterns:1747-Present: Sylvester Nemes: 9780811700481: Amazon.com: Books@@AMEPARAM@@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/515dCM1v6WL.@@AMEPARAM@@515dCM1v6WL[/ame]



    td

  9. #8

    Default Re: Soft Hackle fly question

    I rarely set up a nymph rig without a soft-hackle in there somewhere. We catch fish in all 3 phases of the drift (initial, middle, swing), although the swing stage picks up a few more fish than the other stages.

    I am trying to mimic mayfly nymphs/ emergers and caddis pupa among other bugs and stages. Before and during a caddis hatch a soft hackled pheasant tail dead drifted under an indicator is stellar in all phases of the drift, but especially as the pupa turns and begins to rise thru the columns.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Soft Hackle fly question

    Quote Originally Posted by Rip Tide View Post
    Not all nymphs rise gradually to the surface or wash along helplessly in a current.. Some nymphs swim very well, even faster than the fish that chase them.

    May flies can be broken down into 4 basic categories. Swimmers, clingers, crawlers, and borrowers and you'll find each variety in they're own type of environment.
    "Swimmers" such as baetis and isonychia are found in the classic pool-riffle-run stretches.

    If you've ever seen trout breach right out of the water during a rise, they're chasing fast swimming caddis.
    The soft hackle swing is especially effective during such a hatch.
    Great post.

  11. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Soft Hackle fly question

    On your swing, try stopping your rod at various points along the path. Each stop will cause your soft hackle to rise just slightly; which often times stimulates a strike. You can see this, generally, if you compare the number of times that you get a strike at the very end of a swing vs. during the swing. At the end, you're doing the same thing; stopping the rod, causing the fly to rise in the water column and imitating a rising pupa.

    Read Jim Leisenring's book; he was a master of swinging wets/soft hackles (the "Leisenring lift"). You'll also pick up a bunch of effective patterns that you don't see fished much anymore.

    Pocono

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