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Soft Hackle Fly
Text and photos by Ted Leeson and Jim Schollmeyer
Excerpt from The Benchside Introduction to Fly Tying
published by Frank Amato Publications

This very old fly style is still popular with anglers. The hackling technique is a bit unusual but quite practical - the tying thread reinforces the hackle stem and produces a small, neat head. A simple body of Pearsall's Silk Thread is commonly used; we're using floss here, which is more easily obtained. Orange and yellow are good colors, and the body can also be make of dubbing, peacock quill, or hackle quill.

Materials for the Soft Hackle:

    Hook: Wet fly nymph 1XL, 10# - 16#.

    Thread: Olive 6/0.

    Abdomen: Green floss.

    Thorax: Dark hare's ear dubbing.

    Hackle: Brown partridge.

Tying Instructions for the Soft Hackle:

Publisher's Note: Throughout the instructions you will see bold sections which refer to the basic methods sections of the book. The book pages are split in half horizontally with the patterns on the top pages and the methods at the bottom.

    Step 1: Position the thread about 4 wraps behing the hook eye. Prepare a wet-fly hackle (page.53B) of partridge, as shown, with barbs about twice the length of the hook gap.

    Step 2: Mount the hackle atop the shank as shown, extending over the hook eye with the back (or dull) side of the feather facing you. Use a flattened thread (p.42B) to bind the stem to the midpoint of the shank, creating a smooth foundation. Clip the hackle stem.

    Step 3: Wrap the flattened thread forward, keeping the foundation slim and smooth. Stop 5 thread-wraps' distance behind the hackle. Mount a length as shown in wrapping floss (Step1, p.74B).

    Step 4: Form a slender abdomen as shown in wrapping floss (Steps 2-8, p.74B). When the tying thread is reached, secure the floss and clip the excess. Position the thread about 1/3 of a shank-length behind the hook eye.

    Step 5: Use the direct-dubbing method (p.78B) to form a ball-like thorax that ends about 2 thread-wraps' distance behind the hackle-mounting point. Position the thread directly in front of the thorax.

    Step 6. Clip the feather in a hackle pliers. Raise it vertically so that the dull side of the feather faces the hook bend. Take 2 wraps of the feather rearward, just as you would wrap a dry-fly hackle (p.146B). except in the reverse direction.

    Step 7. Take one wrap of thread over the feather tip, directly ahead of the thorax.

    Step 8: Take 2 thread wraps foward through the hackle barbs, ending on the bare shank ahead of the hackle. As you wrap, wiggle the thread from side-to-side to avoid trapping any hackle barbs. Clip the feather tip, and finish the fly (p.44B)

~ Ted Leeson and Jim Schollmeyer


For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.


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