View Full Version : Got Soft hackle?

appalachian angler
04-03-2006, 12:40 PM
Remember the catch phrase from the advertisements of the American Dairy Farmers Association..."Got Milk?" Well now...

I read the Fishing reports and talk to quite a few fisherman, and all I hear about are nymphs and dries. Some of your more "technical" fishermen prefer the latest rage emerger patterns tyed up with the latest innovative synthetic dubbing blends and such.

My question is: How many of you fisher people are flinging the ole soft hackles and classic wet flies? If you are, like myself, you are probably catching fish!

I talked to quite a few fishermen yesterday on the little river (Sun., 4/2/06) and all had tryed to dries and nymphs with very little success. None had even tied on a soft hackle! Some had fished a few wooly buggers to no avail. Now I admit, I had a tough day too, but 3 respectable Bows and a Brownie were brought to hand on sz 14 gold ribbed hares ear softie (fished double tandem) and prince softies sz 12 respectively.

I find when there are bugs, but no risers, and nymphs ain't gettin it done, fish varying levels of the water column with a soft hackle (or two) and I will usually get into fish. The ties are fairly simple, the materials for them are cheap. Why not fish them??? The english "spider" type flies have been around for some 500 odd years, ie. Partridge and Orange, and they still catch fish!

Who else out there can share a success story fishing wet flies? Ya'll can come out of the closet now... :D


David Knapp
04-03-2006, 06:07 PM
This is a great topic. I love fishing soft hackle flies. I have used them with good success from #10 or #12 on down to the smaller sizes. I often fish them in the Smokies just like a normal nymph pattern, often tandem with a GRHE or Prince. I have also fished them with the traditional downstream swing and have done well. Earlier this spring on Abrams comes to mind. I had fished for a few hours without much luck, only a couple small fish to hand. I was about to leave when I decided to try one last riffle. I tied on a softhackle and the fish started nailing it on the swing and even as I was stripping it back up. I brought several fish to hand in just a few minutes on the pattern. Last summer, I had some really good luck using larger softhackles to imitate the ISO nypmhs on Little River. I generally fished them deep with split shot "highstick" style and caught some of my larger fish of the year that way. Soft hackles are definately a lot of fun to fish and the fish love 'em so I will keep tying them onto my line8-)!!!

David Knapp

04-04-2006, 12:35 AM
AA, there were a group of us up there this weekend. Sunday ended up being the day for me. I caught quite a few from 10:45-2:30 on a bhcj, and a black softhackle. Saturday was a bit slower, but the softhackle was really doing its thing on Sunday. Had my best luck with the dead drift and high stickin the deeper water ;)

04-04-2006, 09:59 AM
I was one of the ones in the group with Stretch this past weekend. I started off the weekend fishing dry's and nymph's. By Saturday afternoon I had switched over to assorted soft hackle fly's and midge patterns. I finished up Sunday with a flurry of action and kept with the same patterns that I had fished Saturday afternoon. Granted I made a move into less pressured water, but I still think it was a change of bugs that helped put me on trout.

Like Stretch, most of my luck came from high sticking behind boulders and dead drifting deep pocket water.

Petey *8-)

appalachian angler
04-06-2006, 08:41 AM
I fished Lynn Camp prong on tuesday. Couldn't get many strikes on the Pheasant tail softie with down and across/swing techniques. Started pitching the same fly (no split shot or indicator) up into the head of the plunge pools, letting it drift down and rise back up naturallly with stick held high and...Bam! Kept fishing that fly through the pools and it was very productive! Most of the takes were probably somewhere in the middle of the water column. I don't know what you call the method...Flymphing ::) ;D


04-06-2006, 10:35 AM
That is sort of what I found out too AA. I fished Lynn Prong very much the same way on Saturday. I approached it a little different but came up with the same answer more or less. I tied on a size 12 wooly booger and tied a soft hackle about 8" to a foot behind it without an indicator. I fished from the top of pools though. Usually hunkered down behind a boulder in the stream or from the bank. I would high stick as much of the run as I could the allow the fly's to swing toward the surface. Nearly all of my hits came on the swing towards the surface. That is a sweet little piece of water.

Petey 8-)

04-06-2006, 05:13 PM
All you soft hackle fans, there is a bulletin board /organization called "The international brotherhood of the flymp" It has a lot of members from europe and it has a lot of reads from there. Just do a google search.

04-11-2006, 01:42 PM
Out of all the flies in my box, I'd have to say that I've had the most success using soft-hackles, wet-flies, flymphs, and all the many variations on classic patterns such as the Spider and Patridge and Orange.

Then again, I'm an upper-level- novice at best ;)

04-11-2006, 10:43 PM
Applachacian Angler wrote:[Most of the takes were probably somewhere in the middle of the water column. I don't know what you call the method...Flymphing]. Actually, the method is called the Leisenring Lift as described by James Leisenring and Pete Hidy in their book "The Art of Tying the Wet Fly".
Like of all of you I also love fishing softhackles (hence my screen name). Softhackles have worked very well for me in the driftless area of SW Wisconsin. Last year I tried softhackles for the first time on the West Prong of the Little River. It ended up saving an otherwise very slow day.
Unfortunately, living in the Chicago area I don't get that much of a chance to fish the Smokies but, swinging softhackles on the streams inside the park is definitely something that I want to do again.
Just out of curiosity what your favorite softhackle patterns to use inside the park?