December 29, 2018

2019: The Troutrageous Year of Soft Hackles?

I've got traditional soft-hackled wet flies on the brain.

But this time I'm not talking about the iconic, reverse-hackled tenkara "sakasa kebari" you're probably accustomed to seeing featured on this blog. Instead, I'm talking about somewhat more familiar patterns, such as spiders, flymphs, and other sparsely adorned flies that go all the way back to the beginnings of the sport. Flies that may not be the first choice of the angler of today, but are awesome fish catchers nonetheless.

I'm not much of a fly tier, but instead of tying reverse hackles for my tenkara and streamers and nymphs for my fly fishing, I'd like to learn about a half dozen simple (& historically classic) soft hackle wet fly patterns and then use them universally throughout my fly fishing. I'd definitely like to dive into this style of fly a bit deeper in 2019.

Fortunately, the current issue of Eastern Fly Fishing magazine dropped a two-page spread on the subject, including a bit about the history of soft-hackles that really got my juices flowing. I already own a few resources (such as Morgan Lyle's "Simple Flies") that should help the cause as well.

So if you happen to have any suggestions, I'd totally welcome them the comments below.

Perhaps there are a few choice "Southern" patterns developed or traditionally used in the Appalachians that I can try to take some native brook trout on the next time in northern Georgia or North Carolina.

In any event, I hope you don't mind some posts about the subject, for as I dig into new (to me) patterns, I'll probably be writing about them here as well. Just don't expect me to churn out anything as nice as what Robb Chunco at Creekside Kebari + Fly Co. ties. I got this cup of flies for Christmas, and the soft hackles in that upper right quadrant are simply drool-worthy.


  1. Mike I like your 2019 commitment.
    Soft hackles are fish catchers. Not only trout but bass and bluegills.
    Sylvester Nemes has a couple of good books, as well as Allen McGee.
    Also the web site "Flymph Forum" is a great resource for soft hackles and wet flis and flymphs.
    Good luck on your new "obsession"

    PS, they are not difficult flies to tie.

  2. I'm looking forward to seeing you dive into this. I love fishing and tying soft hackles.

  3. Michael
    If I was a fly tyer the soft hackle would be the fly I would start tying. I started fishing soft hackles years ago after reading some of Alan's post. It has been my go to pattern when trout are feeding just under the surface film. The Eastern Fly Fishing Magazine is a publication I read often. Good post, thanks for sharing

  4. Here's a long ago article by Pete Hidy, SI eventually put out a book that you can find in used book shops as well as the online bookseller sites, Dave Hughes' book Wet Flies is a good reference too.

  5. An excellent choice of fly. I fished them for almost 40 years in the UK. May I suggest the following patterns.
    Snipe & Purple
    Waterhen Bloa
    March Brown Spider
    Williams Favourite
    Hackled Coachman [No disrespect but NOT a Royal Coachman]

    Please tie any hackles SPARSELY - usually on wrap is enough

    Enjoy and tight lines

  6. For years I was skeptical to the testimonial comment, "if I only had one fly to fish, it would be a soft hackle." Well, I'm not totally in the soft tackle only camp but, more times than not, my dropper is a soft hackle. The 20" Westslope cutthroat that passed up the juicy Stimulator for the # 14 Partridge and Purple dropper last summer convinced me to use soft hackles more often.

    Bill Love
    Sandpoint, Idaho

    1. Bill Love...there are a lot more stories like yours out there. There is a reason why these flies are as effective as they were a 150 years ago.

  7. I'm with you on the soft hackles. I'll be tying and fishing more of them this new year. May 2019 be better for us all.

  8. WOW! So much great feedback, thank all of you... I've got a lot of material to dig into!!!