Colorado Fly Tying: The simple & effective Soft Hackle

September has found me walking the woods and prairies with a shotgun and bird dog more days than not.  Grouse are on the mind, probably more than they should be.  But these birds are a ton of fun to hunt and when in the bag they make for some great table fare.  But maybe one of the best rewards that comes from bagging a mountain or prairie grouse is the feathers gained that make some absolutely beautiful and effective flies.  The soft hackle has become one of the most popular wet fly patterns in the entire realm of fly fishing and fly tying and for good reason, these patterns are easy to tie and do a superb job at imitating emerging insects.

Sharptail grouse

A soft hackle fly swings through the current and the wound soft hackle from a partridge or grouse flutters and moves in a very lifelike motion that imitates emerging mayflies and caddis and have become a favorite of Colorado fly fisherman.  Dead drift soft hackles or swing them like a wet fly and you might be pleasantly surprised with more fish in the net than normal.

soft hackle

Soft hackles are easy to tie.  If you can obtain feathers from a wild bird, do at all costs as the colors and fibers from wild birds are more vibrant than those of commercially raised birds.  If the wild birds have eluded you then stop by your local fly shop and peruse their selection of grouse and partridge feathers.

Fly Tying Recipe:

Hook: Nymph or wet fly (size 12-20)

Thread: 8/0 Uni-Thread, color of your choice

Dubbing: Dry fly or ice dub, color of your choice

Ribbing: Fine gold wire, or color of your choice

Hackle: Soft hackle from grouse or partridge

Tight Lines,

Lone Wulff McWade