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Thread: Soft hackle fly

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Merrimac, MA
    Posts
    4,006

    Default Soft hackle fly

    I just started tying about a month ago. I'm gettting what I think is some good instruction from a former professional tyer (weekly tying classes at my local fly shop), but some of the steps aren't coming out right and they seem to be consistently wrong; rather than the hit-of-miss situation that I usually encounter when I'm learning something new.

    My latest "it-won't-work" is tying the patridge hackle on a soft hackle wet fly. I'm attaching it right; feather facing foward, dull side towards me, but after putting on the floss body and the dubbed thorax ball, when I clip on the hackle pliers and start to wind the hackle, it consistently wants to wind with the shiney side facing rearward; not forward. Any advice/help for me here?

    Other than this, I think that tying is a great activity; it's relaxing and, for me, it's a great way to learn what I think will be some useful streamside entomology.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Soft hackle fly

    Hi Pocono,
    I'm thinking maybe your feather stem may be a little to stiff, before you tie it in, put it between your thumb nail and pointer finger and try to soften it some, sometimes you can use a small set of pliers but be very careful as not to damage the stem to much.
    Another thought is to soak the stem in some water.

    Hope this helps.....

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Bedford County, Penna. ....pretty rural
    Posts
    349

    Default Re: Soft hackle fly

    Hi Pocono,
    I tie a lot of soft hackles and run into a lot of variations on the hackle tie-in. What has worked best for me is to tie in by the 'tip' of the hackle, not the stem. And, since soft-hackles are best tied more sparse that much of what you see done commercially, I strip (or better yet 'trim') the fibers off of one side of the hackle stem. Just gently stroke the hackle back against the grain - leave the tip intact - trim off one side of the hackle - then tie in by the tip and wrap. You're wrapping on the thinner part of the stem which is more flexible. You might also try tying the tip in with the tip extending over the eye of the hook, then trimming the excess tip off. Although you're not binding down as much hackle, I've never had a problem with it coming loose. I almost always lose my fly in a fish, on a rock or in a tree before I ever have one destroyed by too many fish! Ha! I'll occasionally tie in by the stem if I'm using something really small like starling hackle or the black hackle from the neck of a pheasant - and even then it depends on the fly. Hope this helps. You'll have to check out our patterns and pictures on the "Wet fly swap" after Joni receives them all and gets them posted online!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Central Florida
    Posts
    5,392

    Default Re: Soft hackle fly

    Hi to all,

    I also tye in with the tip and use 1/2 hackle if the feather is too big.

    Frank

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Merrimac, MA
    Posts
    4,006

    Default Re: Soft hackle fly

    Quote Originally Posted by fyshstykr View Post
    Hi Pocono,
    I'm thinking maybe your feather stem may be a little to stiff, before you tie it in, put it between your thumb nail and pointer finger and try to soften it some, sometimes you can use a small set of pliers but be very careful as not to damage the stem to much.
    Another thought is to soak the stem in some water.

    Hope this helps.....
    Thanks, Fyshstyker. Your were right, it was a problem with the stiffness of the stem. I was tying it into the hook too far down the stem. After reading your post, and the other two, I went back to the bench before dinner, went deeper into the top of the feather, tied it in as I had been doing all along and, viola! - no problems and a nice even backward flare on the quills up against the dubbed ball. The other advice on tip tying a wet hackle and on trimming one side off also sound very useful.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Soft hackle fly

    That's great Pocono, glad it all worked out for you.

    I mentioned soaking the stem, a simpler way to moisten up quills is to place the hackle or feathers between a couple of moist paper towels for an hour or so.

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