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cencalfly

Tying a Soft Hackle

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Wondering if I could get some input from some of you regular tiers of soft hackle flies. Here are the particulars; Pheasant Tail Soft Hackle, size 12 2X heavy hook. Supposed to be a basic pattern but seeing some of the work on this site I've come to see that a soft hackle fly can be quite elegant when tied well. Input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, JP

 

 

 

post-14830-1218690522_thumb.jpg

 

 

 

I didn't see the crooked copper wire until I saw it in the photo. Couldn't see it while the fly was on the vise. Eyes aren't what they used to be.

 

 

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Ahhh, the good ole' partridge and pheasant. Pheasant tail, copper wire, and Hungarian partridge. Fly Tyers Benchside Reference has a great section on tying in the partridge.

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From everything I've read regarding the tying of soft hackles, ( I am FAR from an authority!) the two things that seem to be constants,are: THIN body, and SPARSE hackle. One of the surest ways to keep the hackle sparse and neat,is to tie whatever feather you are using,in by the tip,rather than the "butt".

 

This can be delicate work indeed (the tip of the average partridge body feather is probably finer than a human hair,and not nearly as strong) but with practice it can be done with consistancy! And,it does make a difference!!

 

Sulfernut

 

 

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Hi cencalfly,

Yes, wingless wets can be quite delicate. Traditionally, North Country soft-hackles are tied quite sparse, with traditional materials like silk and game bird feathers. If traditional is what you are after, then these materials should be part of your supplies as well as a very slight profile. Remember, many of the original flies were tied to fish upstream, in the surface or just below.

 

I find that American tiers have a tendency to tie their wingless wet flies a little fuller. Either type works fairly well, and yours looks pretty darn good to me. You'll catch fish on it.

 

Mark

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I am no expert, but perhaps because of that, I have found stripping one side and tying in by the tip (some call this the "belt" method) yields a fairly neat and sparse soft hackle.

 

I have never gotten the knack of folding the feather.

 

I agree with others that your version should work, though you might want to make it a bit sparser.

 

 

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I also like mine just a bit more sparse on the hackle. Also, I like to have my hackle emerge from the hook shank at more of an angle. Lots of times when tying the head the hackles will get pushed back. I tie in my hackle by the lower stem with the feather extending beyond the eye. This is done before the body is tied. After finishing the body and stopping with the thread behind the hackle tie in, I take a couple wraps of the hackle back from the eye, tie the hackle down with two tight wraps of thread and then make a couple wraps forward through the hackle and tie off a very small head. This actually lays down less thread, ties the entire hackle to the hook, and pushes the hackles out. There are a number of ways to do it. None are wrong and it just takes time to find out what works best for you. I believe this is how Leisenring tied his flymph hackles. Less is more in most applications at tying flies and especially true with soft hackles. Your PT is super and won't get turned away by any fish for sure. A lot of it is just personal preference.

 

Here is a partridge and orange that I tied using this method. The hackle is still a little more dense than I would like. But, you can see how sparse the thread is and how the hackles seem to radiate from the thorax area.

post-13329-1218743422_thumb.jpg

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I tie my soft hackle in toward the center of the feather. Make a wrap and then wrap forward over the first wrap (behind the eye). This also pushes the barbs up and out.

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Old hat,

Great work on that fly. It is very traditional looking.

 

Also, sometime. a thorax is added to the fly to butt the hackle up against to hold it out at a right angle from the hook shank. Again, this is a traditional method.

 

Soft-hackles can also be tied with slightly back swept hackles for fishing downstream, more in the manner of a traditional wet fly as suggested by Roger Fogg in A Handbook of North Country Flies.

 

Mark

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Thanks for all the responses. Reading all the info offered and checking out some of the references/links got me a little giddy. These (soft hackles) truly are some cool flies. Some of my best fish were brought to hand using them. Heck, some of these fish were caught using "soft hackles' that looked like something that fell out of a birds nest. I've tied flies and followed patterns where it seemed the object was to see how many different types of materials you could stuff on a hook. Thats why after looking at some of the patterns submitted on this board I was intrigued. As I stated in the original post "elegant,"or it might be, better stated as 'simple elegance.' This as opposed to the other side of the spectrum where a fully dressed salmon fly might be considered elaborate/flamboyant elegance. Both hold beauty in thier own right. I have seen elegant solutions. Both simple and elaborate. All this to catch a fish, Aint it cool!

 

Anyway, I as wondering about the density of the hackle. Thought it might be a little heavy. Thanks again.

 

JP

 

 

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A very nice job on the fly. Perhaps a little heavy on the hackle, but certainly it will catch fish. A friend of mine is an excellent tier of soft hackles and I had the chance to video him. Here's a couple of links you might watch for some ideas:

and
.

 

TxEngr

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Does anyone know a website that will tell me step by step how to tie one?

I have been looking in books and on the web for a while for instruction but cant find any.

thanks

Charlie

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