Orvis Fly Fishing
How Do You Fish Soft Hackle Flies?
In the modern age of fly fishing, the art of fishing wet flies or soft hackles has fallen by the wayside in popularity. It seems streamer fishing, indicator fishing, and dry-fly fishing takes precedence for most anglers on the water today. While these techniques are absolutely effective, you may be missing out on some hidden action if you dismiss the soft hackle fly. Soft hackles are some of the oldest flies in the history of fly fishing, and have caught trout effectively since the very beginning of fly fishing, so why not continue the tradition of success and give a wet fly a swing?
What is a soft hackle?
Soft hackle flies definitely stand out in the fly bins of today's fly shops. While most nymphs, streamers, and dries that are most popular these days have half a dozen materials used to tie them, soft hackles often utilize only two materials and are much simpler in construction.
Some good patterns to try are:
What do they represent?
Soft-hackled wet flies are effective because they are extremely impressionistic. The sweeping hackle fibers impart a lot of motion in the fly. Most dries and nymphs are static; they do not have a ton of material that suggests motion. Wet flies, on the other hand, are aided in motion by the hackle fibers. Fish key into certain aspects of a bug's life cycle and this motion in a wet fly matches the stage of any emerging insect because they are shedding their nymphal skin.
How do I fish a soft hackle?
The most common and effective way to fish a wet fly is on the swing. Since they most often represent an emerger, the motion of the swing and the construction of the fly makes for a combination that is hard for any fish that is selectively eating emergers to pass up.
When you come across some tricky trout that seem to be refusing your dry flies, or even your emerging dry fly patterns, then it's time to open the book of fly fishing history and go back to a technique that's worked for fly fisherman since the beginning. While the wet fly swing is the most common way to fish them, don't be afraid to try a wet fly pattern on your indicator rig. Soft hackles are also over looked as nymphing patterns and can be just as effective under an indicator and fished deep.
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