View Full Version : Prince Nymph and Soft hackle question

Rainbow Warrior
01-30-2011, 09:15 PM
Hey all,

I have been wanting to learn to tie some new nymph patterns recently. I have been tying a lot of BHPT's and Copper johns lately, but I think its time for some new stuff. The patterns I want to learn are prince nymphs and Soft Hackle PT's. The main question is what kind of hackle do you use for these? I have not been able to find what type of hackle you use for princes. They just say brown hackle. As for the SHPT's, I have used partridges feathers, but dont like it very much. I was wondering what type you guys use and reccomend. A brown colored hackle would be preffered. Maybe the same for each fly? Thanks for any advice.


01-30-2011, 09:57 PM
You can buy a good brown hen cape to use for both, and it will be easier to use than partridge since the feathers are longer and the shafts are stronger.

01-30-2011, 10:06 PM
Most instructions for a prince nymph call for brown hackle. I prefer a soft shall I say weak hackle for nymphs and wet flies. A good substitute for partridge on a soft hackle pheasant tail is hen back. The feathers are similar to partridge in size but brown in color and often with sort of tan tips or edges. This is what I often use on my soft hackles. I purchased what I have some time ago and if my memory serves me well they were "Indian" hen backs. These would also work on the prince nymph. Hope this is of some help.

01-31-2011, 02:23 AM
I prefer hen neck capes to hen backs. I very rarely pass up a good hen cape. The hackle fibers are not as stiff and you have a better range of sizes (esp. smaller) than with the hen backs. I use hen backs on larger nymphs. An error(?) many tyers do with soft hackles is winding too thick a hackle only one or two winds necessary. The body should be visible, the hackle is simiulating the legs and antennae of the caddis or mayfly. If you have problems with Partridge or Grouse, etc. try stripping one side by cutting before winding, again only one- two wraps.

Rainbow Warrior
01-31-2011, 08:54 PM
Thanks guys for all of your replies. I will have to look into hen necks and capes. I'll have to ask the guy at our local fly shop.

02-01-2011, 12:59 AM
I use Partridge and Hen for most of these patterns. A generic hen neck will work fine when you first start tying soft hackles. Hen capes have stems that are a little thinner than Partridge making them a little easier to wrap without excessive build up. Historically soft hackles were tied from upland game birds. Hen capes and saddles are also a bit easier to use because they don't break as easily. I use some of all of them now, including starling, quail, pheasant, and grouse. I like Partridge on my traditional soft hackles, and hen capes or saddles for adding to nymph or flymph patterns. The hen saddle is a little softer feather than the feather from the hen's neck, but the stem is a little thicker which can be an issue with built up at the head of the fly.

Partridge on a traditional soft hackle like Partridge and Orange is hard to beat. I remove the barbs from one side of the feather to keep these flies somewhat on the sparse side. You can also get Partridge skins dyed brownhttp://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y166/flyman1/Soft%20Hackles%20and%20flymphs/Dscn0879.jpg

When I have a little more heavily dressed fly that I'm trying to add some flotation and movement to, then I like hen saddle, and a few more wraps.http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y166/flyman1/Soft%20Hackles%20and%20flymphs/brownhenbiot.jpg

02-01-2011, 09:29 AM

Awesome looking flies. And your advice is spot on! :smile:
Thanks for posting your flies.


Rainbow Warrior
02-12-2011, 06:29 PM
I have slowly been getting the items I bought off of ebay. I finally got all I neededfor RL Prince nymphs. Here's how they look...
The suggestion for the brown hen cape was great! The feathers are very easy to work with. I haven't tied any soft hackle PT's with them yet, but plan to. Here is a prince variation of that lightning bug variation I always talk about in my chattahoochee reports...
It is a bad picture, but this fly looks great. I tied 6 and they have a new home in my DH junk box. The top RL Prince is in a #10, but have made them in #12 too. I have also tied some #16 princes. I am still waiting for the arrivel of my #14 hooks.
Once again thanks for the reccomendations!

02-12-2011, 07:51 PM
Sweet looking fly there Flyman! What is wraped on the body of green body fly?

04-06-2011, 02:44 PM
I have tried traditional soft hackles with partidge with classic silk as explained and illustrated by another member - these work well as explained and illustrated in books buy by Sylvester Neemes, A.K. Best and Dave Hughes - see Dave's book on Wet flies for good eplanations.

I also like grouse and starling but the later takes plenty of practice - at least it did for me and I did better wetting the feathers 20 min before tying.
Hen necks should work well also and may be the best thing to practice with if you want to try other stuff.

I've been also using some patterns from Alan Magee's book, where he ties soft hackle above the beadhead and these work well.

Putting a little cdc on the prince collar or on the copper john like John Barr recommends should work. I am tying some and will let you know.

thanks to all the posts on this - nice photos!

04-06-2011, 03:14 PM
flyman --- not to make your head swell any more, but you tie the best looking flies i've seen!

04-07-2011, 09:50 PM
Thanks Phil, I've got one big as a pumpkin already:biggrin: Learn to tie 4 or 5 patterns and stick to them. I hate to admit part of it is also trick photography:biggrin:

04-08-2011, 05:50 PM
Couldnt help from replying to this.......................flyman as your signature refers to-- well..........you might not reach perfection but your close enough to track it by sight. Always a pleasure to see your work.Be safe