Soft Hackle Nymphs
One thing you'll notice if you follow us on Social Media is our fascination with Soft Hackles and turning regular traditional nymph patterns into Soft Hackle Nymphs. Is there a reason behind us doing this? To us yes absolutely there is. We do not have any scientific data to make an absolute claim to our belief that they are more effective tied as a Soft Hackle, but for us our confidence rises and more fish come to net. Our belief is the pulsating action the soft hackle feathers provide give added life to the fly, and trigger a feeding instinct to the fish.
We will fish these nymphs on a natural up stream dead drift, cross swing, under an indicator, and as a two fly dropper with a large dry, or trailing unweighted soft hackle. Our favorites are however the up stream dead drift, and fishing them on the swing. We've found this to be extremely effective in deep pools where we can work from the bottom of the pool working our way up the pool. Fishing it on a swing is extremely effective in fishing bends, riffles, and fishing along banks.
There are several different kinds of feathers to use to tie soft hackles, with each having a very unique characteristic look, and benefit. A few things to look at when choosing which hackle to use is what size of fly you are tying, whether color options are helpful, and how thick or sparse you want your hackle fibers. Some of the most common feathers used are Partridge, which I personally rarely use due to the size being most suited for flies size 12 and larger. I prefer size 14 and smaller for my flies and waters I fish. Brahma is a great substitute for a mottled feather with a wide variety of color choices. Hen feathers are another extremely popular option with a wide variety of colors, and sizes. We'll go over each of these in a little more detail.
First lets start with Brahma feathers. Brahma is the absolute perfect substitute for Partridge with its beautiful mottled feathers, but comes in a wide array of colors you get to choose from to match the fly you're tying. These come in both capes and saddles, and both are going to offer you something different. The first thing you need to think about before deciding to use Brahma is the size of the fly you will be tying. I've found that capes seem to be good for size 14-12 with the traditional Mottled Brahma feathers from the shoulders of the cape, but will offer some size 16s and maybe 18s with the interior feathers in a natural Badger style feather. The capes offer feathers great for use in tying collars on nymphs, like what we're talking about here, and your more traditional Wet Fly with your mottled feathers on the shoulders and a Badger style feather in the center. A Brahma Saddle is going to give you some size 14s and larger all the way into the size 8 range. All the feathers on the Saddle are Mottled, very webby, and super BUGGY!!!
Hen Hackle Feathers
Okay now lets take a moment and talk about Hen Feathers. These come in both a Cape and Saddle as well. Hen Capes and Saddles also come in a wide variety of colors, with Unique color variants included in them for unique variety. Like Brahma you will need to choose which one you will need based off of the size of fly, and feather characteristics needed. The Hen Capes will have a narrower feather with less webbing. They will have a arrangement of sizes from as small as 20s to as large as size 12. A Hen Saddle, my personal favorite and most used, is very webby and allows for a very beautiful collar on your Soft Hackle Nymphs. Your Hen Saddle will tie size 14 Soft Hackles, with a few occasional 16s, to your larger sizes. The Variants can give you and extremely buggy look to your fly.
Starling is another favorite of mine for tying flies from size 14-20. These feathers are extremely beautiful and are my personal favorite when tying smaller flies. A Starling is a beautiful bird and its iridescent feathers create a beautiful fly as well. Their hackle stems are a bit more delicate, but once you get used to them you are wrapping truly exquisite flies with ease.
Hooks and Beads For Soft Hackle Nymphs
Since we are talking about Nymph patterns let me tell you what hooks we prefer to tie them on. We do use Moonlit Competition Barbless Hooks for these paired with the Moonlit Slotted Tungsten Beads, aka Moonlit Pebbles. The hook styles we prefer and use are the Togatta ML501s, which are actually manufactured in Japan and a forged hook for added strength. We also love the ML058s, and ML056s as well. All of these models are a Jig Hook, as a jig hook is our preference when tying nymphs. Since these are Jig Hooks we will need a slotted bead, and we prefer tungsten for the weight. The beads we use are Moonlit Slotted Tungsten, Moonlit Pebbles. We will explain this in a later blog post though as this is focused more on Soft Hackle Nymphs and how we fish them and what hackle we are using to tie them with.
Here's an effective Soft Hackle Nymph pattern we tie and use. you can change this pattern up by using different colors of wires, hackle, and beads. The Copper John Nymph is arguably one of the most fished and effective nymphs to fish. This is how we converted the traditional pattern into a Soft Hackle version.
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