Soft hackles and wet flies have been around for a long time. In fact, these flies are some of the most traditional flies and some of the most productive. One of the benefits of fishing wet flies is the low-skill technique it requires to fish them. They’re easier to fish than a dry fly or even a nymph because they can be swung to imitate emerging insects. Simply cast the fly out into a riffle or a run and let it swing through a likely holding spot when insects are emerging on a river. It’s that easy. Trout do most of their feeding subsurface and generally take full advantage of an exposed emerging insect. These flies are typically used for trout but can also be productive in a lake setting when bass and even landlocked salmon are present.
Wet flies are typically tied with soft hackle that imitates and trailing nymphal shuck. When insects emerge, they shed their nymphal shuck and ‘swim’ upward in the water column or over to the banks to crawl up on the rocks to fully hatch out of their nymphal stage. Wet flies can also imitate ‘swimming’ nymphs like a mayfly swimmer. Like small minnows, Mayfly Swimmer Nymphs dart around in the water and trout feed on them as they swim. Among the mayfly swimmers, BWOs, Drakes, Callibaetis, and Brown Duns are the most common. Imitating these swimmers with a wet fly is a great way to fool feeding trout.
Whether you’re imitating a mayfly swimmer or an emerging insect like a caddis, we have a few soft hackle and wet fly patterns to help increase your chances of success on the water. The Umpqua Soft Hackle Emerger Fly is a great little pattern that can imitate a variety of different emerging insects or swimmers. The pattern uses a sparse collection of soft hackle and wing casing to create a lifelike fly body that pushes water when swung or stripped. It also comes in two different colors, Gray and Yellow, and four different sizes to imitate a large variety of insects.
Another more traditional pattern that we carry is the Soft Hackle BWO Fly. This fly, although it has BWO in the name, is tied in a generic pattern and comes in a multitude of different colors to imitate everything from a march brown to a BWO. The colors available include March Brown Spider, Patridge/Green, Partridge/Orange, Patridge/Peacock, Partridge/Yellow, and Pheasant Tail. The fly also comes in three different sizes so you can imitate large insects or smaller flies with the Soft Hackle BWO. This fly works well as a dropper off of a streamer or fished by itself in a riffle or a run for trout.
If you haven’t tried fishing a soft hackle on the swing, we’d recommend giving it a try on your local trout stream. Swinging soft hackles can be an incredibly productive way of catching fish and works well when there are emerging insects or mayfly swimmers in the water. Soft hackles can also be used in a still water setting to fool wary trout or bass looking for a smaller meal. If we don’t have your favorite soft hackle in our selection, check back often because we’re constantly expanding our fly selection.