Streamside | Stalking the Seam on Soft Hackles

by | Feb 28, 2016 | 5 comments


Photo by Steven Brutger

Matthew Copeland can tell a story (there’s no doubt about that), and Stalking the Seam has become one of my favorite reads on the web.

In Stuff That Works, Copeland tells a short story around the effectiveness of soft hackle wet flies — and so much more.

Year after year, I hear the soft hackle wet fly is “experiencing a renaissance.” Fact is, they’re too simple to gain the trust of many fishermen. The basic form of body, rib and hackle (most often in natural materials) looks bland and unconvincing next to the fancy dress of modern flies, and they are passed over.

Copeland writes,

Dead-drifted cross-current passed cut-banks, swung through the riffles, dragged over a surface film, or even gently jigged mid-column in undifferentiated straights, soft hackles have a nifty habit of evoking come-to-mama strikes from fish you hadn’t even suspected of being around.

….. There aren’t many 500-year-old technologies still in use. No one writes with quills anymore. Dead reckoning still works, technically, but it’s fallen decided out of favor with the transoceanic set. And, at some point, we all have to accept the fact that human performance bears a non-negotiable expiration date.

Obsolescence, it seems, is inescapable.

Read more of Stuff That Works from Stalking the Seam.


Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky

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Domenick Swentosky

Central Pennsylvania

Hi. I’m a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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  1. Copeland is right on… soft hackles is a win/win; no one way to fish them, and they have often saved a day for me…they just work!

    • Don, I go through spells with them, but I usually have success fishing them as nymphs. Do you swing them much?

      • Yes, I often do; at times, I also will fish them upstream and if no take and if conditions permit, feed out line and let them swing downstream, all in the same drift

  2. I came across the Copeland piece in my feed today too. One of the better posts I’ve read lately. Interesting subject and well written.


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