Fly of the Month - Go To Soft Hackle Emerger




Hook:  Tiemco 100 #s 12-16


Thread: Black or dark brown 8/0


Rib: Fine copper wire


Body: Pheasant tail


Hackle:  Grouse or partridge


I have my fishing buddy and former TVTU President Alex Barkume to thank for reminding me that simplest is often best.  I am a sucker for the myriad of fly permutations and convolutions that appear in the fishing and tying magazines, and often arrive streamside with a variety of intricate emerger patterns I’ve painstakingly tied, in a “more is better” mode. 


That was true this past summer on the Madison River when he and I were floating a stretch just above Ennis.  We beached the pontoon boats in an area that I knew from earlier trips held a good number of browns and rainbows in the deeper, boulder-bottomed channel that gradually shallowed and slowed just below us.  As I was into my fifth or so offering with little success, I became aware that my buddy just downstream from me was consistently taking fish on the swing.  He had switched to his go-to soft hackle on a dry line and as it swung and rose toward the surface, he usually connected.  Admitting defeat, I worked my way over and peered at a simple pheasant tail sparse soft hackle. 


Alex was kind enough to equip me with one, and my luck soon changed.  Tie some, and I predict yours will as well.


1.  Wind the thread to the turn of the hook and tie in the copper wire.


2.  Tie in five or six pheasant tail fibers, tip first, and wind in tight turns to just a tad behind the eye.  Tie off and trim.


3.  Counterwind the copper ribbing wire in five or six turns to the front of the body, tie off and clip.


4.  Tie in a small grouse or partridge feather (splines when wound should come to about the back of the hook) and make one or two winds (this is a very sparsely hackled pattern).  Tie off, trim, and finish and cement the head.