Soft Hackle Trout Flies Part 2 – Hooks, Thread, and Body Materials
Following on our recent post on selection of feathers to hackle Soft Hackles (a mouthful to be sure), this is a short article on hooks and body materials that are best suited to tying Soft Hackle flies.
But first – to capitalize Soft Hackle or to not capitalize soft hackle? RR would have an answer, as would any worth-his (or her)-salt editor, but I refuse to either consult these persons or to conform to their dictates. So I will proceed to capitalize or not, and to do so somewhat randomly, just for fun. Thanks for your patience on this quirk, just one of many I assure you.
Hooks? Let’s get down to it. I prefer wet fly hooks with enough wire heft to keep the lightly-hackled, squishy little fly under the surface when it is swinging across and down. My personal preference is to un-forged, round wire hooks, but the Alec Jackson hook has caught my eye and now has a secure place on my fly bench. This is the absolute truth, within the context that nowadays, my preoccupation with salmon and steelhead flies on larger shanked hooks and on tubes takes up a lot of space on my bench. That said, I still have a neat little corner, densely packed with my soft hackle hooks. There. Confessed.
Favorite hooks for tying soft hackles are as follows:
TMC 2488 this is a sleeper hook worth considering for Soft Hackles. Straight eye, 3x wide gape, 2x short, curved wire, fine wire. This allows one to use a smaller size hook with greater hooking ability
TMC 3761 – this is the gold standard: round wire, Sproat bend, wet fly and nymph hook, in a 2x heavy, 1x long version. This is the hook I would choose if I wanted to tie a Soft Hackle for summer steelhead.
TMC 3769 – Just like the TMC 3761 without the extra length. Great standard nymph and Soft Hackle fly hook.
Thread: Daiichi 1560 – very nice Sproat bend, round wire, bronze finish standard wire and length hook. Oddly, perhaps, but this is my personal favorite for soft hackles. Have no idea why.
Alec Jackson North Country Trout Hook – an elegant and exquisite wet fly hook especially suited to tying Soft Hackle flies. This is what I would call a Limerick Bend, lightly forged at the bend, 2x short needle point with mini barb. These Alec Jackson hooks are made by Daiichi at Alec’s specifications and are beautiful and functional hooks. These are a nickel silver finish that adds a little sparkle to the fly. Nice touch. There is a 1x fine wire Alec Jackson Crystal North Country hook offered also.
Thread and body materials for Soft Hackles? I have become fond of using Pearsall’s gossamer silk thread and marabou silk floss. Frankly, I had zero experience with these two materials before Marcos Vergara at Hareline Dubbin nudged me to try them recently. I did my homework, read up on the Pearsall’s thread and floss, tied with the materials, wrote about them, and am a full-on supporter of Pearsall’s silk threads and flosses now.
Other body materials for Soft hackles? These include all the usual suspects, like Ice Dub, Hareline Sparkle Dub, Pheasant tail fibers, peacock herl, and the like. My advice, for what it is worth, is to keep body materials relatively slim, unless of course if you are imitating a big juicy October caddis or dragon fly, in which case you could use good old tried and true chenille!
I hope these ideas and the videos help you sort out some of the mystery and get down to the fun of tying and fishing soft hackle trout and steelhead flies.
Our next related post will be tying an actual Soft hackle fly, the Purple Western Soft hackle. Fun.