| Soft hackle fly patterns date back at least two centuries and they are as effective today as they were back then. Originally, these flies were known as spiders. Today they are known as soft hackles. These flies are simple and easy to tie. They consist of a hook, body of floss, wool or dubbed fur and a soft hackle from a partridge, grouse, woodcock or starling. The most popular soft hackle patterns are partridge and orange, partridge and green, partridge and yellow, march brown and starling and herl. The pattern discussed here are the partridge and orange, green and yellow. For more information about these effective flies read The Soft-Hackled Fly by Sylvester Nemes and Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies, also by Sylvester Nemes|
Hook: Mustad 3399, Daiichi 1530, Tiemco 3769 in sizes #10 - #18
Thread: 8/0 or Pearsall's Gossamer silk in orange, green or yellow
Body: Single strand floss or Pearsall's silk floss in orange, green or yellow
Fur Collar: Hares ear or similar fur dubbed
Hackle: Light or dark partridge
1. Crush down the barb and mount the thread at the bend.
2. Tie-in the floss at bend and wrap floss forward 2/3 the hook shank.
3. Dub thread with fur and make one or two turns and tie-off.
4. Select the proper sized hackle and strip off the soft down at the base.
5. Holding the hackle by the tip pull the hackle barbs down away from others so the stand out at right angles to the stem.
6. Hold the bare stem of the hackle at 45 degrees against the side of the hook with the natural curve towards the rear and tie-in. Cut of excess stem.
7. Using hackle pliers pull the hackle upright and wrap the hackle forward one or two times.
8. Wrap the thread forward through the hackle, tie-off and trim excess.
9. With your fingers, force the hackle barbs rearward over the fur collar and form a neat head. Whip finish. Keep them Sparse
Originally, soft hackles were fished across and down. In 1857 F.C. Stewart, a Scottish angler electrified the fly fishing community with a new angling methodology centered on his spider flies. Instead of fishing his soft hackle downstream which was the convention. He presented his soft hackle spider upstream in a dead drift manner. Therein lies the secret of fishing soft hackled flies The must be presented so they have action. Soft hackles represent emergers and they can be fished dead drift in the film or dribbled along the bottom when a split shot is used.