Fly Tying Recipes, Info, and More


NEW……Winter /Early Spring 2020


You could just as easily say soft hackle because these flies are generally mimicing an emerger of some sort be it a mayfly, caddis fly, or midge…. they are very effective, if sized appropriately, to mimic a myriad of insects.  I fish a lot of soft hackles.  I find them effective alone, as droppers off a dry, as droppers off a two fly nymph rig, and in tandems using two or three flies together.  In any case, they are murderously effective.  I use them to great effect, both floating and wade fishing.  They are deadly when cast across the current, then the current is allowed to belly the line (no mending, it will ruin this presentation) and the rod tip is held high so the flies can ‘swing’ or ‘swing and rise’ through fish holding lies.  You can target lies or you can target fish or groups of fish. When the line comes tight toward the last 20 percent of so of the presentation the fly not only speeds up significantly it rises to the surface film not unlike an emerging insect….and its deadly when this happens.  Many takes occur at the beginning of the speed up and occur all the way til it stops on a tight line directly below you.  I often when it gets to the end raise and twitch it, and even sometimes manipulate the flies by twitching the rod tip while the line swings.  Use heavier tippet, even on “selective” fish. This game is a 2X to 4X kind of thing.  It helps keep tandem rigs from tangling and also prevents breakoffs.  The last important tip, and its perhaps the most important one….because you’ll lose most of the fish you hookup on if you don’t get this one thing….keep the rod tip high, about 45 degrees or slightly higher during the whole presentation.  As my client /fellow guide/good friend Ken Okorn, who is an expert at this method….would say…the fish will “inhale the fly” and then they often turn with it.  If the rod isn’t high a host of things can go awry….a breakoff for sure can occur on the take … The fish will hook up and then pull free because there isn’t any “give” in the rod tip….or the fish will simply ‘nick’ itself which the angler will feel a ‘bump’ and then has nothing.  That fish won’t likely hit again.  You’ll have to move on.

In any case, these are not only super simple flies, they are deadly effective.  I NEVER leave home without them.  They have saved the day on many wade and float trips when I am guiding.  And they are just fun to fish.  When the fish are really on them….and when bugs are active is when they work best….you can catch some huge numbers of fish in short order using this method.  Also works on quality fish that will snub your dries….

Basically, the fly is built with a thread, floss or fiber or dubbed thin body….whatever you like….a thorax….and then a soft hackle of some sort be it hungarian partridge, starling, grouse, duck shoulder, hen back, hen saddle…..just a few turns of hackle on  the fly (2 or 3 at most, 2 is ideal I find).  That’s the basic fly.  Pick your material.  You can also add a shuck, a bead, whatever.  They all work.  I always find the plain Jane specials like the one below work everywhere.



Hook:  Daichii 1560 size 12-18, Mustad 3906 12-18 (both are ‘heavy’ 2X wet fly hooks)

Thread:  Uni 8/0 tobacco brown

Tail:  (optional)  clear sparkle yarn is a variation I like

Abdomen:  4-6 Pheasant tail fibers, tied in tip first (I used 4 on smaller flies, 6 on larger ones)

Thorax:  peacock herl 3 turns

Hackle:  hen back (speckled) or hungarian partridge

Head:  Tying thread (you can also use beads, glass, plastic, metal, tungsten, etc., to achieve the desired effect)


Tying Steps

Standard PT Soft Hackle Sparse


Sparkle Tail Version (Deadly)

Bead Head Version (Red glass bead is a deadly variant)


In my own fishing and thanks to my friend Ken Okorn I spoke of above there is an easy way to rig these flies if you want to fish as many as 2, 3, or 4 of them.  I have an FREE printable PDF illustration of how to rig these….click the link below



Here’s another worth putting in your box for this time of year….





South Holston brown that found one of my emergers to be quite tasty…..the fish was rising when we encountered it was caught on a CDC emerger, size 18, 6X tippet, landed by my client Judge Joe Craig , High Point, NC.   The fish was 27″-28″ long and was one of our best dry fly fish to every grace the net.

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