You can't go wrong with a soft-hackled fly

Posted by Steve Galea at

I'll concede that the title of this post sounds like the first line of a really bad country song.

Yet, it is true. A soft hackled fly, such as the partridge and orange I tied for this photo, can be a killer on any trout stream. I first started paying attention to these after reading Sylvester Nemes's classic The Soft-hackled Fly. This highly specialized book tells you everything you ever needed to know about why these things are so effective and how they should be fished. 

Soft-hackled flies are more difficult to tie that they appear. You are typically dealing with very small hooks and fairly delicate hackles. This trick is getting used to the pressure you can place on those hackles and the number ot turns required to make it appear full (as this one does) or sparse. Nemes and others will tell you sparse soft-hackles fish better. I'll tell you they look horrible in photos. Hence the more full-figured version I present to you. (A sparser version will have about half the hackle collar density.)

In any case, having a dozen or so of these in your fly box is never a bad thing. Since they are tied in size 12 and smaller, they don't even take up that much space.

Here's the recipe for the Partridge and orange


Mustad 3906 or any other wet fly hook in size 12 or smaller

8/0 or finer thread. Black or colour to match body. These should be made with a small head so fine threads work best.

Hungarian partridge feather suitable for a hackle on that hook size

Orange floss (silk or otherwise)

Hare's mask dubbing natural.

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