February already. Where does the time go? As the unseasonably warm PA winter marches towards Spring, plans have begun for annual pilgrimages to many of the trout rich streams Pennsylvania has become known for. Anglers, myself included, will be keeping fingers crossed that these trips coincide with the yearly hatches that keep trout looking up. The Hendricksons, Quill Gordons, Sulphurs, Cahills, March Browns, and of course, the Drakes. It is time to start stocking fly boxes.
Call it a new years resolution, but the one style of fly that I’d like to fish more of in 2012 is the venerable soft-hackle. Popularized by the late Sylvester Nemes in America, the soft-hackle, spider, or North Country fly has had a long history in angling. This style was perfected by the people of Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire, Staffordshire, and Derbyshire in the UK while normally fishing for sustenance and not sport. It is quite a killing style even today. The definition I most refer to for a soft-hackle comes from Mike Harding, “…a hook with a slim body of touching turns of old-fashioned silk, and headed with a twist or two of feather from a game bird or farmyard hen.”
This particular example I’ve tied is something that I’ll use for Sulphurs later in Spring. I’ve used elements of the common Partridge and Orange and the more obscure Dotterel Dun. This version is quite basic (less is more) but many variations can be made. Underbodies of silver mylar or fluorescent orange thread will show through the gold silk when wet. A fine wire rib or even a herl thorax can increase it’s effectiveness. Fishing soft-hackles is just one more way to stay in touch with the history of fly fishing, which I find important, and I might even land a trout or two.
Hook: TMC 3769 size 14 (any wet fly or nymph hook will work)
Thread: Pearsall’s Gold #6A (I recommend the real stuff)
Hackle: Whiting dyed dun genetic hen cape
Thanks as always for reading.