Streamside | Stalking the Seam on Soft Hackles

by | Feb 28, 2016 | 5 comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

Share This Article . . .

Since 2014 and 600 articles deep
Troutbitten is a free resource for all anglers
Your support is greatly appreciated

– Explore These Post Tags –

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.

More from this Category

Nobody Home | Nobody Hungry

Nobody Home | Nobody Hungry

Nobody home means there’s no trout in the slot you were fishing. And sometimes that’s true. Nobody hungry suggests that a trout might be in the slot but he either isn’t eating, isn’t buying what you’re selling, or he doesn’t like the way you are selling it.

Does it matter? It sure does!

New Structure | Old Structure

New Structure | Old Structure

One of my favorite places in the world is a deeply shaded valley that runs north and south between two towering mountains of mixed hardwoods. The forest floor has enough conifers mixed in to block much of the sunlight, even in the winter. The ferns of spring grow tall, and thick moss is spread throughout. The ground remains soft enough here that all large trees eventually surrender to the valley. When they can no longer support their weight in the soft spongy ground, they fall over, leaving a broken forest of deep greens and the dark-chocolate browns of wet, dead bark. It’s gorgeous.

Fallen timber also dictates the course of this cold water stream. The fresh tree falls force the creek to bend away from the hillside. Rolling water carves away the earth and lays bare the rocks — these stones of time, as Maclean puts it. And when water cuts into a neighboring channel, previously dry for centuries, new river banks are undercut and fresh roots exposed . . .

Light Dry Dropper in the Flow

Light Dry Dropper in the Flow

. . .The flow of the fly line through the air is finesse and freedom. Contrasted with nymphing, streamer fishing, or any other method that adds weight to the system, casting the weightless dry fly with a fly line is poetry.

The cast is unaffected because the small soft hackle on a twelve-inch tether simply isn’t heavy enough to steal any provided slack from the dry. It’s an elegant addition that keeps the art of dry fly fishing intact . . .

Streamside | Dave Rothrock’s Drop Shot Video

Streamside | Dave Rothrock’s Drop Shot Video

I get a lot of questions about drop shot nymphing, and though I’ve mentioned it countless times in other Troutbitten articles, I’ve never devoted a whole piece to it. Why? Probably because it would take a full series of articles and many diagrams to convey my own take on drop shot nymphing. I’m sure I’ll get to it someday, but for now, here’s a quick rundown of my own drop shot thoughts, followed by a link to Dave Rothrock’s new video, How to Set Up a Drop Shot Nymphing Rig . . .

We Wade

We Wade

We wade for contemplation, for strength and exhaustion, for the challenge and the risk. We wade for opportunity . . .

Eat a Trout Once in a While

Eat a Trout Once in a While

I stood next to him on the bank, and I watched my uncle kneel in the cold riffle. Water nearly crested the tops of his hip waders while he adjusted and settled next to the flat sandstone rock that lay between us. He pulled out the Case pocket knife again, as he’d done every other time that I’d watched this fascinating process as a young boy.

“Hand me the biggest one,” my uncle said, with his arm outstretched and his palm up.

So I looked deep into my thick canvas creel for the first trout I’d caught that morning. Five trout lay in the damp creel. I’d rapped each of them on the skull after beaching them on the bank, right between the eyes, just as I’d been taught — putting a clean end to a trout’s life. I handed the rainbow trout to my uncle and smiled with enthusiasm . . .

What do you think?

Be part of the Troutbitten community of ideas.
Be helpful. And be nice.

5 Comments

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

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

      Reply
      • 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

        Reply
  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.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Articles

Recent Posts

Pin It on Pinterest