Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Swingin' Soft Hackles

The soft hackle fly is probably one of the least used flies in most fly boxes. Just like other wet flies, it has fallen out of favor over the years. This has always been a mystery to me because I find it to be a very productive fly when swung through proper current on most of the rivers that I guide on, especially the big tailwaters like the Hiwassee.
The soft hackle fly effectively imitates emerging insects and even drowned naturals. I find the most effective presentation to be a down and across current cast, kept on a tight line and swung through the "foam line" that is present in most dominant currents on large tailwaters. I like to swing it through and let it rest at the end with a slow, painfully slow, retrieval for maybe 5 strips. This imitates an emerging insect trying to break through the surface film in order to hatch.
If presented correctly this can and will produce strikes throughout the day in almost any conditions. The hardest part for most of my clients is to get a good hookset once they do get a strike. Since the fly is on a tight line, they actually get to feel the strike. This is a new concept for most of them and they can't believe how quickly the trout actually strikes. You have to be on your game when they hit or you will miss way more fish than you can catch throughout the day. This is the only true downside to the technique, but most don't seem to mind because they enjoy the action, so to speak. They agree that it beats having to just sit and watch an indicator float down the river all day. It's certainly hard to argue with that point.
The next time you're out, especially on a big tailwater where you have ample room to get a good swing, dust off that wet fly box and try a soft hackle fly. It will keep you and your senses sharp as it will definitely produce some vicious takes. Just be ready to set the hook and keep a tight grip on that fly rod!

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