Driftless Trout Anglers

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William Schlafer  
#1 Posted : Sunday, January 28, 2018 7:14:50 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
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Has anyone had success using Soft Hackle wet flies in the Driftless Area?

Which colors, sizes and styles work best?


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
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AKinMN  
#2 Posted : Monday, January 29, 2018 1:24:42 AM(UTC)
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Yes, quite a bit in fact.
OTC_MN  
#3 Posted : Monday, January 29, 2018 3:11:33 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: William Schlafer Go to Quoted Post
UserPostedImage

Has anyone had success using Soft Hackle wet flies in the Driftless Area?

Which colors, sizes and styles work best?


-Bill


Oh heck yeah. Especially early summer when the caddis are heavy, soft hackles can be $. Flies like this: Mercer's Swing Caddis.

Also just simple soft hackle hare's ears, or silk bodied classic style like partridge and orange, etc. I actually carry quite a few soft hackle emergers (Tim Flagler and Charlie Craven both have good patterns) that you can both swing and dead drift, plus simple wire bodied soft hackle. Basically, a slender wire wrapped body (I lay down a thread base to the bend of the hook, tie the wire in at the front, wrap it back and break it off at the back of the hook rather than wrapping forward - keeps the body slender), a little ball of dubbing then the hackle.

I think soft hackles are a blast. They really smack them sometimes. Plus I love tying them.
"Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish."
- Roderick Haig-Brown
madguy30  
#4 Posted : Monday, January 29, 2018 3:22:51 AM(UTC)
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No idea what it's called, but I tie some #16 with just a bead, soft hackle and burlap that look like that pic. Worked out in CO, MT and OR too.

I might just go with getting thread that spreads out and using that with hackle instead of tying anything in.

This type of fly has worked well when the water's kind of murky from a rain.
Pete  
#5 Posted : Monday, January 29, 2018 3:06:56 PM(UTC)
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I use them a lot in the Driftless. I keep it simple and it's still effective: even spring creek browns aren't all that selective when it comes to sub-surface. I start small-size 16-unless I'm using pheasant or turkey feathers, then they flies are necessarily larger. As far as simple, a thread body is effective, maybe a peacock thorax and a hackle from any land bird that's available. A bead head with some weight makes it possible to fish much more of the water column. Down-and-across is the classic presentation, but they're effective upstream on a dead drift too; they're is really no wrong way to fish them.

I'm starting to mess around tying them tenkara-style, with the tips of the feathers facing the eye of the hook instead of the bend. The fish haven't complained.
OTC_MN  
#6 Posted : Monday, January 29, 2018 4:47:14 PM(UTC)
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Actually now that I look at the picture, that is very close to one of my favorite soft hackle patterns, which is a soft hackle Sulfur emerger. Natural PT tail, PT body, copper rib, yellow rabbit dubbing dubbed with split thread, and partridge hackle. Usually tie them in 14 and 16, although 18s can work too.

It's a good one trailed behind a dry.
"Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish."
- Roderick Haig-Brown
JGF  
#7 Posted : Monday, January 29, 2018 4:49:02 PM(UTC)
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I use them some - probably not as much as I should.

A couple of favorites are a Red Ass Kelso, Brown-Hackled Peacock, and a Partridge and Orange. The last one is a simple tie for the cranefly hatch.
tenkara_guy  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, January 30, 2018 3:20:16 AM(UTC)
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This is a timely query, Bill.

Last year, I started using a size 14 Pass Lake (tied on a wet fly) on a regular basis. I fished it upstream (sunk), upstream with gink, and downstream. I caught more fish than I ever imagined I could on that old pattern, and in every direction. But the upstream success really got my attention, especially on our smallish streams.

With that in mind, I've spent the winter devouring Sylvester Nemes' The Soft Hackle Fly and tying a variety of classic wets (with British silk and partridge). I'm waiting for a starling cape and Dave Hughes's Wet Flies to arrive later this week. Ultimately, I hope to fill one whole side of a Tacky box with a full range of wet fly options for the coming season. I think I'll spend a fair bit of time trying them out. It turns out that W.T. Stewart, in The Practical Angler (1857), describes fishing traditional wet flies upstream with only a little line on the water--something like today's high-sticking, but with a wet fly. Easy to do with a 12 foot Tenkara rod. I think it's going to be fun.

I'm also starting to get interested in flymphs. But that's another post.
"I will explain to him as an acceptable realpolitik: if the trout are lost, smash the state." -- Thomas McGuane
shebs  
#9 Posted : Tuesday, January 30, 2018 4:10:39 AM(UTC)
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So excuse my spin fisher ignorance if this is a stupid question, but what's the difference between a streamer and a soft hackle wet fly? Seems awfully similar to my admittedly untrained eye.
A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work. ~Author Unknown
Modern Translation, with respect for the Notorious B.I.G. : "Fuck Money, Get Fishes"
OTC_MN  
#10 Posted : Tuesday, January 30, 2018 2:19:41 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: tenkara_guy Go to Quoted Post
This is a timely query, Bill.

Last year, I started using a size 14 Pass Lake (tied on a wet fly) on a regular basis. I fished it upstream (sunk), upstream with gink, and downstream. I caught more fish than I ever imagined I could on that old pattern, and in every direction. But the upstream success really got my attention, especially on our smallish streams.

With that in mind, I've spent the winter devouring Sylvester Nemes' The Soft Hackle Fly and tying a variety of classic wets (with British silk and partridge). I'm waiting for a starling cape and Dave Hughes's Wet Flies to arrive later this week. Ultimately, I hope to fill one whole side of a Tacky box with a full range of wet fly options for the coming season. I think I'll spend a fair bit of time trying them out. It turns out that W.T. Stewart, in The Practical Angler (1857), describes fishing traditional wet flies upstream with only a little line on the water--something like today's high-sticking, but with a wet fly. Easy to do with a 12 foot Tenkara rod. I think it's going to be fun.

I'm also starting to get interested in flymphs. But that's another post.


The book by Dave Hughes is great. Tons of great information in there on both tying and fishing soft hackles, flymphs, and traditional winged wet flies. I've tied quite a few bugs out of there, other than winged wets. Tried them way back when and trying to get the wings set made me want to claw my face off. Haven't tried it since but I really should.

Some of the flymph patterns in there are killer too.

If you're getting into traditional soft hackles, Pearsall's silk thread is the stuff to use. But if you want to try it, you better get some soon. It's being discontinued, and it's getting hard to find. I just bought a bunch more when I found a place that had it in stock.

Here's a couple recent soft hackles. Bill, one of them is the pattern I described earlier.

Sulfur soft hackle - deyed yellow PT tail and body, yellow rabbit dubbing thorax and partridge.
Sulfur soft hackle

Traditional soft hackle. Pearsall's silk thread body (Jasper - man I love that color), touch dubbed brown squirrel thorax, and partridge.
Traditional soft hackle

"Our tradition is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need fish."
- Roderick Haig-Brown
thanks 1 user thanked OTC_MN for this useful post.
tenkara_guy on 1/31/2018(UTC)
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