The Great Soft Hackle Fly

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The Soft Hackle Fly is one of the oldest fly patterns known to man and trout. It is also, arguably the deadliest fly you should have in your fly box. The problem is they are hard to find in fly shops and big box stores.  Many fly fishers have never heard of the fly and when I tell them about a good fly for the river they are going to, is a Soft Hackle, most will look at me quizzically and ask,” What is a Soft Hackle.”  How can the oldest and deadliest fly patterns ever created not be sold in fly shops and box stores?

The reason is most if not all fly fishers today are two dimensional.  They are into drifting a dry fly or emerger on the surface to feeding trout or nymphing the bottom with lead or some fancy nymph they read about in a fly fishing forum or saw on Youtube.  To them Soft Hackles are wet flies and nobody wet fly fishes anymore.  Why?  Because modern nymph fishing and emerger fishing has put wet fly fishing in the category with dinosaurs.

The real reason folks don’t use wet flies anymore is a lack of understand exactly what a Soft Hackle really is.  Most old fish hobos and modern anglers will tell you a Soft Hackle is a wet fly and they would be right on how a Soft Hackle is classified.  But the truth is the Soft Hackle is the most under used and misunderstood  fly in fly fishing today.

So what then is a Soft Hackle Fly?   The Soft Hackle Fly is the most versatile fly ever created.  It is a dry fly, emerger, nymph or streamer.  During a BWO hatch a size 20 olive Soft Hackle is deadly. During a Caddis hatch the Soft Hackle is one of the best emerger patterns available in the right size.  You can use floatant on it an make it a dry fly for any hatch.  You can use it as a nymph.  I’ve used it as a nymph for years on Billingsley Creek near Hagerman Idaho as my go to nymph.  It is both an imitative fly and an attractor fly.  It can be used effectively on freestone rivers and tailwater rivers.  I have a fly box devoted to nothing but Soft Hackle flies in all sizes and colors.  The Soft Hackle Fly is the oldest fly on record and for all you fly tiers out there it is also the easiest fly ever created to tie.  I really don’t know why fly shops and box stores do not carry or carry only a few Soft Hackle Flies.  But if I were you I would start getting them and using them.