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What determines the color of partridge for a specific soft hackle fly?

soft hackle

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12 replies to this topic

#1 SpokaneDude

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Posted 05 November 2016 - 12:21 PM

I see lots of soft hackle directions (menus?) for tying soft hackle flies; the problem is most of them just say "partridge", while some of them are specific to "natural gray or brown partridge".  

 

My question is: what determines the color of the partridge feather to match against the color of the fly body?



#2 Hatchet Jack

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Posted 05 November 2016 - 01:54 PM

I go for something that looks buggy and natural, with shades & color that generates a bit of contrast.

In the end, 'tis in the eye of the beholder tyer.


Always quit when you're through.


#3 SpokaneDude

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Posted 05 November 2016 - 02:29 PM

So, Hatchet Jack... what goes with red, for instance?  Gray?



#4 tidewaterfly

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 11:08 AM

SpokaneDude, it's up to you what you want to use. This is like asking what will the fish bite. Frankly, they'll take anything in the right situations. All of these pattern recipes started with a tyer trying whatever material & color they had. 

 

Soft hackles "suggest", they're not an imitation of anything specific, yet can imitate many things, so colors can be matching something they eat in the water you're fishing, or as Hatchet Jack said, a contrasting assembly of color. Some patterns are "attractors", not imitations, just something that attracts attention. Fish don't always strike a fly because they mistake it for something to eat. Actually, we can never really know for sure why they take a fly. 

 

For most natural coloration with birds, you have limited choices. I try whatever I have on hand. With Hungarian Partridge, you get shades of brown & shades of gray, either will work fine on a soft hackle & either would be fine with a red body, or any other color you want to try.

 

I learned long ago that all flies will catch some fish at some time or place. I've been tying & fly fishing for 50 years. Now, I tie based on what looks good to me. I also agree with HJ about "buggy", but soft hackles really aren't supposed to be buggy. 

 

The thing is, try different combinations, and let the fish tell you what's going to interest them. 



#5 SpokaneDude

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 11:12 AM

Thanks to both of you... got the info I needed... 



#6 mvendon

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 11:31 AM

The book that I have states that the two most popular patterns of the Partridge series are the Partridge and Orange, and the Partridge and Yellow. Other colors in the series have bodies of black, claret, green silk, and more. The Partridge and Orange was used to copy a fly called the February red, and was said to be a modern version of the old dressing that went by the same name. The color of the orange silk turns to a rich mahogany after getting wet. They all call for a well-dappled feather from a Partridge's back. On the pelts that I have, they are more brown than grey. Hope this helps some.

 

 Regards,

                Mark



#7 SpokaneDude

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 11:37 AM

Thanks Mark... good information... btw, what book are you referring to?  (I have several, maybe I also have it)  :D



#8 flyty1

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 11:53 AM

I like to tie and fish soft hackle flies in sizes 12 to 18...instead of partridge I use grizzly hen for the hackle. One cape will tie hundreds of flies. Ypu get the choice of feather sizes and with the smaller sizes, you can squeeze more than one fly per feather.

#9 mvendon

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 12:56 PM

Thanks Mark... good information... btw, what book are you referring to?  (I have several, maybe I also have it)  biggrin.png

 

 A Dictionary Of Trout Flies by A. Courtney Williams. My edition is from 1949. If you don't have it, the authors great-grandfather was Polycarp Allcock. He had an earlier edition of the book, but had requests about more details for fly patterns, so he wrote an updated version. He went to great lengths to document what the correct dressing was for every pattern that's in the book and some history regarding each pattern. It's not expensive, and is a good book to have just for historical reference for older patterns, mostly from the UK. It is not a tutorial book at all. It does have color plates of many fly patterns. The patterns were tied very large and photographed, then the pictures were reduced to fit in the book. 

 

Regards,

                  Mark



#10 phg

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Posted 06 November 2016 - 03:30 PM

If the recipe just calls for partridge, it means what we call Hungarian Partridge.  In real life, though, I've found you can substitute almost any game bird for partridge, it really doesn't matter.  The 1.5 to 2 turns of partridge doesn't lend a lot of color to the fly, so almost any mottled feather, yes even from a grizzly hen, will provide the buggy, leggy look you are going for. 

 

On my smaller soft hackles, I use a lot of snipe.



#11 Bryon Anderson

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 01:04 PM

100% agree with phg's comment "...you can substitute almost any game bird for partridge, it really doesn't matter." Just about any feather with soft, webby barbs can be used to make a soft hackled fly. I use a lot of Indian hen (cheap, abundant, and the stems are a little more hearty than those of partridge feathers, which snap if you look at them wrong, or so it seems. American hen hackle makes excellent soft hackle as well, although it doesn't have the pretty mottling of partridge or Indian hen. One of my all-time most productive flies is a soft hackle fly that's nothing more than a peacock herl body and grizzly soft hackle that actually comes from a low-grade Metz rooster saddle ("low-grade", that is, for rooster hackle because it's soft and webby as all get-out--makes excellent soft hackle though! :) )


"... trout do not lie or cheat and cannot be bought or bribed or impressed by power, but respond only to quietude and humility and endless patience." -- John Voelker (aka Robert Traver), Testament of a Fisherman


#12 caloosa bug

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 05:19 PM

 

On my smaller soft hackles, I use a lot of snipe.

 

They do have great feathers! We used to catch them in the woods with a plastic bag.  Lot's of fun.



#13 Bimini15

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 06:12 PM

I have only attempted a handful of soft hackles, but I learned early that contrast is a big thing for me.
I like a feather with a well marked eye pattern in very contrasting light and dark colors. But again, that is Just anothe personal choice.

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