Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Syl's Nymph

In keeping with established structure of the blog, the fly above is tied on a size 14 hook. Nemes, however, recommends tying the fly on nothing larger than a size 16 hook and, in fact, recommends the 16 over anything smaller: “[i]n my experience and from the experiences of many of my friends who have fished Syl’s Midge, the size 16 works as well as 22. So why sacrifice the bite and power of the larger hook?”

Hook:

16-18
Thread:

Red
Rib:

Extra small copper wire, reverse ribbed
Abdomen:

Peacock herl
Hackle:

Gray partridge from the nape or shoulder



In the second edition of The Soft-Hackled Fly (2006), Sylvester Nemes includes the dressing for his midge pattern. He explains that his soft-hackled midge takes its cues from George Griffith’s classic dry fly midge pattern, the Griffith’s Gnat.

The fly utilizes such popular and historically successful materials that other older possible precedents exist, though Nemes's dressing seems to be the result of much more conscious development in the American tradition independent of Restoration angling convention.

Nevertheless, in the Angler’s Vade Mecum (1681), James Chetham reprints the flies Cotton included in the second part of the Compleat Angler (1676). In both, the Peacock-flie or Fly is a dressing for May: “There is also this Month a flie call’d the Peacock-flie, the body made with a whirl of a Peacocks feather, with a red head, and wings of a Mallards feather.” If Cotton and Chetham intend the flytier to use a speckled or barred mallard's breast feather, then the effect would indeed be much like Nemes's. Nemes, however, suggests that the classic wet fly, the Gray Hackle (more commonly tied now as the Gray Hackle Red), is a more likely precedent. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Iron Blue - Nymph, Flymph (and Little Dark Watchet)

This dressing is on a a size 14 hook, which is larger than Hidy recommends. I use a size 14, however, to maintain the consistency of flies pictured in the blog. I also use red thread in addition to the red Pearsall's Gossamer Silk of the body.

Hook:

16-18
Thread:

Red
Body:

Dark mole fur spun on red Pearsall’s Gossamer silk with two or three turns exposed at the tail
Hackle:

Two turns of starling neck hackle



Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy included this dressing for the Iron Blue Dun as a mayfly imitation, a flymph, in a chapter of The Masters on the Nymph (1979) “The Soft Hackle Nymphs—The Flymphs.” His dressing calls for hooks in "Sizes 16 and 18, mole fur on crimson silk with two turns of silk showing before body is tied; no ribbing; two turns of starling neck hackle.”

Hidy’s dressing is likely derived from the Iron Blue Nymph recommended by his friend and angling companion, James Leisenring. It simplifies Leisenring’s slightly; Leisenring’s soft-hackled fly is pictured below:

Like Hidy's substitution of starling for jackdaw, I substitute a hackle from the neck of a crow.



In The Art of Tying the Wet Fly & Fishing the Flymph (1941), Leisenring gives the dressing that I have largely followed here. He calls it the Iron Blue Nymph:

“HOOK  14,15.
SILK  Crimson or claret.
HACKLE  Two turns of cock Jackdaw throat.
TAIL  Two or three soft white fibers tied very short.
BODY  Dark mole fur spun on crimson or claret tying silk with two or three turns of the silk exposed at the tail.”

Leisenring, in turn, borrowed his dressing from G. E. M. Skues almost verbatim. In Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream (1910), Skues gives a dressing that he revised in later publications (and that Leisenring includes as the Iron Blue Wingless). The Iron Blue of Minor Tactics, which Leisenring also includes in The Art of Tying, is dressed with:

Wings:  Tomtit’s tail.
Body: Mole’s fur on claret tying silk.
Legs: Medium blue hen with red points.
Hook: No. 0 or 00.”

Skues glosses this dressing with a note: “But see ‘The Way of the Trout With a Fly,’ p. 108, for a much better hackled pattern.” In the The Way of the Trout with the Fly (1921), Skues expresses some regret about this dressing of the Iron Blue: “If I had postponed the publication of ‘Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream’ for a year or two there is one dressing, that of the iron blue dun, given as a winged fly on p. 28 of that work and so illustrated as the frontispiece, for which I could have substituted a far better dressing of the nymph type.” The primary change he recommends to convert the fly to the “nymph type” is in the hackling:

Hook.—No. 00 round bend.
Body.—Mole’s fur on crimson tying silk, well waxed, the silk exposed for two or three turns at the tail end.
Whisks.—Two or three strands of soft, mobile, white hackle, quite short.
Legs.—The very short, nearly black, hackle from the throat of a cock jackdaw, not exceeding two turns.”

In the Nymph Fishing for Chalk Stream Trout (1939), Skues’s only revision is to qualify how the body should be tied: “Body.—Mole’s fur spun thinly on the tying silk exposing two turns of silk at tail, tapering to thickest at shoulder.”

Historically, dressings of the Iron Blue Dun have figured prominently in most anglers’ attempts at seasonal imitation. In A History of Fly Fishing for Trout (1921), John Waller Hills notes that the "best dressing to-day for a sunk fly is water hen either for the winged or still better for the hackled fly, with a body of silk, either all purple or purple and orange. Or it may be composed of a dark snipe hackle with a purple silk body. Four variations, all good, are given in Pritt." He also mentions G. E. M. Skues's pattern as useful, but suggests it is overly complicated. Hills traces dressings of the Iron Blue as far back as the Restoration author and angler James Chetham, who published his Anglers Vade Mecum in 1681. As Hills reports, Chetham called the fly a Little Blue Dun and dressed it "of the Down of a Mouse for body and head, dubt with sad Ash-coloured Silk, wings of the sad coloured feather of a Shepstare quill." He cites Richard Bowlker next in the development of the Iron Blue, as well as nineteenth century dry fly anglers. 

A few prominent imitations come from T. E. Pritt and the Bolkers, all of whom Hill mentions, as well as from John Jackson and John Turton.

In North-Country Flies (1886), Pritt notes that the Iron Blue is “a famous fly, and is known on most English rivers, and by a great variety of names—the iron blue dun, iron blue drake, little iron blue, little water-hen, little dark dun &c.” He describes the fly as “one of the daintiest morsels with which you can tempt a trout, and one of the most difficult to imitate satisfactorily,” which is presumably why Pritt lists four different dressings, Nos. 18 – 21, for imitating the “Little Dark Watchet or Iron Blue Dun.” No. 18 follows. It is the same dressing for the Little Dark Watchet that Leslie Magee includes among his favorite flies in Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994). 
Sylvester Nemes recommends a Little Dark Watchet dressed on a size 20 hook that he based on Pritt's dressing in his own 2006 additions to his original Soft-Hackled Fly (1975). 

“Wings.—Hackled with a feather from a Jackdaw’s neck, or outside a Coot’s wing.
Body.—Orange and purple silk twisted, dubbed with down from a Water-rat.
Head.—Orange.”


This dressing uses twisted purple and hot orange Pearsall's Gossamer Silk as a thread base onto which muskrat is dubbed.



Pritt notes that John Jackson also includes a dressing for the Little Dark Watchet in The Practical Angler (1854) that other authors misattributed. Pritt points to Jackson’s winged No. 14 Pigeon Blue Bloa, which is dressed thus:

Wings.—Feather of a Blue Pigeon’s, or Waterhen’s neck.
Body.—Brimstone flame coloured silk.
Legs.—Yellowish dun hackle.
Tail.—Two strands of the same 

This fly has a golden coloured head, best made with a strand from the tail of a Cock Pheasant. When you use the Waterhen’s feathers, take the tips of two, and do not divide the wings.”

John Turton included a dressing in The Angler’s Manual, or Fly-Fisher's Oracle (1836), No. 35 the Iron Blue Fly, a hackle he recommended fishing “in May: made with yellow silk: with, outside or butt end of merlin hawk’s wing; body, dark water-rat dubbing, ribbed with yellow silk.”

The Bowlkers also included dressings in their editions of The Art of Angling. Charles Bowlker (1780) dressed an imitation of the “Little Iron Blue Fly” with “wings made of a cormorant’s feather that grows under the wing, or the feather of a dark blue hen that grows on the body under the wings, the body or water-rats fur, ribbed with yellow silk, with a sutty blue hackle of a cock wrapt over the body: The hook, No. 8, or 9.” In an earlier edition, his father Richard Bowlker (1747) provided a similar imitation: “The wing of this fly is made of a cormorant’s feather that lies under the wing, in the same form as those of a goose: the body is made with the furr of a wount or mole, or rather a water-rat’s furr, if you can have it, ribbed with yellow silk, and a grizzle hackle wrapped twice or thrice round. His wings stand upright on his back, with a little forked tail.”


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Brown or Red Hackle


This dressing follows Leisenring’s except that it uses a brown badger hackle, one that “has a dark list and colored fibers” but “the color of the fibers extends from the list clear to the tips,” rather than a true furnace hackle, with “a very dark, black, or blue dun list next to the stem and on the tips of the fibers.”

Hook:

12-18
Thread:

Wine or red
Rib:

Small gold tinsel
Body:

Bronze-colored peacock herl
Hackle:

Red furnace



Leisenring listed the Brown Hackle at head of his list of favorite patterns in The Art of Tying the Wet Fly and Fishing the Flymph (1941). He noted that the hackle should be tied according to the water where it would be fished: the slower the water, the softer the hackle and vice versa.

Like Leisenring, Mary Orvis Marbury heads her list of flies with the Red Hackle, and she devotes more attention to the history of the Red Hackle in her Favorite Flies and their Histories (1892). As she traces it, the history of fly runs as far back as the Roman Empire, and the observations of Claudius Ælianus or Ælian in his De Animalium Natura on Macedonian anglers, who “fashion red (crimson red) wool round a hook, and fit on to the wool two feathers which grew under a cock’s wattles, and which in color are like wax.” Marbury traces the pattern through Dame Juliana Berner’s A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle (1496), in which the dressing is for a fly the hatches “in the begynning of Maye” and should be dressed with a “body or roddyd wull and lappid abowte wyth blacke silke; the wynges of the drake redde capons hakyll.” She also traces the pattern through Izaak Walton’s Compleat Angler (1653) and Charles Cotton’s additions (1676). Tracking the pattern afterward, given its popularity, would be a fruitless labor.

As testament to the Red Hackle's efficacy, Marbury cites a North Country lyric with this refrain:

“Cry, ‘Hurrah for the canny red heckle,
The heckle that tackled them ’a!’”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tup's Indispensable; or, Tup's Nymph

This dressing follows Leisenring's version of Skues's Tup's Nymph, except that it uses a synthetic and natural dubbing thorax and dove hackle rather than dun cock's hackle. (The picture below the dressing of the fly above gives a slightly better sense of the coloration of the materials in the dressing.)
Hook:

14-18
Thread:

Light Cahill
Tails:

Very small light-blue hen hackle or medium-dark honey dun hen hackle
Rib:

Abdomen floss
Abdomen:

Silk buttonhole twist – Coats and Clark’s 72-A primrose yellow, size D
Thorax:

Red fox squirrel belly with lavender and tangerine Needleloft plastic canvas yarn
Hackle:

Dun hen’s hackle – from the neck or shoulders



Leisenring dressed the fly the Tup’s Indispensible as a nymph thus:
“HOOK      13, 14.
SILK           Primrose yellow.
HACKLE   Very small light-blue hen hackle or medium-dark honey dun hen hackle.
BODY        Halved: rear half of primrose-yellow buttonhole twist; thorax or should of yellow and claret seal fur mixed dubbing spun on primrose-yellow silk.
TAIL           Two honey dun hackle points.”

Leisenring derived his pattern from that of G. E. M. Skues and R. S. Austin. In his Minor Tactis of the Chalk Stream, Skues gives a partial dressing, “as near the dressing as I am at liberty to give,” for the pattern Austin introduced to him and, afterward, allowed him to name. Skues gives this dressing for the Tup’s Indispensable: “Primrose tying silk lapped down the hook from head to tail, a pale blue or creamy whisk of hen’s feather as soft as possible and not long, three or four turns of coarser untwisted primrose sewing silk at the tail, body rather fat, of a mixed dubbing of a creamy pink, . . . and a soft blue dun hen hackle, very short in fiber, at the head, the dressing being preferable finished at the shoulder behind the hackles.” 

In the spring special 1976 issue of Fly Fisherman magazine, T. Donald Overton explains that "Skues wrote to Austin to request the dressing for this fly, in particular the rather odd body dubbing material. Austin replied and sent Skues a small bag containing the dubbing mixture. The mixture, one of the more exotic known to 20th century fly-dressers, had as a primary constituent the soft hair taken - possibly under protest - from the scrotum of a white ram, or 'tup' as that animal was called in Britain - hence the name given the fly by Skues!" For Skues and Leisenring, this body material made an excellent and effective thorax, despite Leisenring's modifications of the thorax.



Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Donne Flye

This dressing applies partridge as a hackle rather dressing it as  "wyngis."
Hook:

12-18
Thread:

Tan
Abdomen:

Natural dun wool, in this instance the raw fleece of the New Zealand Romney breed
Hackle:

Gray partridge from the shoulders or back

Dame Julianna Berners, the nun who published A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle (1496), originally described the Donne Flye as a universally effective pattern or, at the very least, an early spring, pre-April fly. Berner’s dressing calls for “the body of the donne woll & the wyngis of the pertryche.”

In his History of Fly Fishing (1921), John Waller Hills famously argued that Berners' Donne Fly was tied to mimic the February Red: it "is the Treatise's 'dun fly, the body of dun wool and the wings of the partridge.' That is the dressing of 1496. It is the same to-day. The Partridge and Orange, dressed with a partridge hackle and a body of orange silk, is the imitation most commonly used between the Tweed and the Trent and kills hundreds of trout every year. So that fly has not changed at all in four centuries and a quarter."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Tod-Fly Hackle


This dressing of E. M. Tod's Tod-Fly Hackle uses an American woodcock covert in place of the English woodcock undercovert.

Hook:

12-16
Thread:

Dark brown
Body:

Striped peacock quill
Hackle:

Woodcock covert



The Tod Fly is the name of a fly dressed as both a winged wet and a soft-hackled fly by the Scottish angler E. M. Tod in his Wet-Fly Fishing Treated Methodically (1903). Given that he provides two different dressings, it is important that Tod observed “if I were asked to choose between the exclusive use of ‘winged’ or ‘hackled’ flies, I should then give my vote in favour of wingless artificials (call them how you like) for the fishing of tributary streams—that is, Waters.” They are very often deadly, even in large rivers, and, I need hardly say, are particularly suitable for the fishing of burns.”  Tod notes that the soft-hackled dressing of his own Tod Fly “will be found generally useful, but especially so in dull cloudy weather.” He gives the dressing in full on Table IV:

Body.-The striped quill from moon feather of peacock.
Hackle.-The soft, pale, mottled feather from the inside of a woodcock’s wing.”

His winged Tod Fly uses the same body and hackle, but adds “two strands of game-cock’s hackle” for a tail and wings taken from a “Mavis wing, inside the feather.”

In Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies (2004), Sylvester Nemes credits E. M. Tod with coining the term “soft-hackle” or at least being the author to first use the term in print, and he provides a picture of Tod’s Best Fly, presumably the Tod Fly Hackle, but his pairs an unstripped peacock herl body with what appears to be a starling hackle. (I read the body in Tod’s dressing as a stripped peacock quill because he describes it the same way as flies he dresses as “Quills.”)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Very Necessary Definition and a Modus Operandi

The Necessity of Definition
As a style, soft-hackled flies have a longer lineage than any other type of pattern. Its dynamic historical scope complicates any attempt at a static definition. Flies that would be recognized as the close relatives of soft hackles today appear in angling literature as old as Juliana Berners’s A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle (1496), which lists the twelve "flyes wyth whyche ye shall angle to ye trought and grayllyng," and featured dressings that clumped hackle on the top of the shank. Dressed without the convenience of modern fly tying tools, like a vice, these wings would undoubtedly have splayed loosely around the sides on the drift. Not until the twentieth century, more than four hundred years after Berners described flies tied with clumped bird hackles, did the soft-hackle style take on the name anglers know today. According to Sylvester Nemes, the English angler E. M. Tod was the first to dub the style the “soft hackle” in 1903, and only in the latter part of the twentieth century did the soft hackle begin regaining some of its former popularity, resuscitated by the likes of W. H. Lawrie and Sylvester Nemes. That the soft-hackle style could have existed so long with so little definitive explanation suggests a pattern type that was simply understood as such—“what is a soft hackle?” an angler might ask, and by this traditional logic, “why a soft hackle, of course!” would be the only answer necessary. Having become so familiar a style, the soft-hackled fly’s definition had been reduced to assumption. But the province of the soft-hackled fly time out of mind was the North Country and the swift streams of the Scottish angler. W. C. Stewart’s Scottish treatise, The Practical Angler (1857), terms the pattern "spider,  In common, historical usage it was merely the "hackle fly" or "hackles" to distinguish it from "winged flies," both of which North Country anglers listed among their dressing. Anglers had traditionally - but not universally - reserved Stewart's general "spider" for imitative midge dressings. Twenty years before Stewart, John Kirkbride referred to some his wingless wet flies as spiders in The Northern Angler (1837). If nothing else, terms like hackle, spider, and soft hackle highlight a crucial attribute of the style: the prominence of the hackle in relation to the rest of the pattern. 


Unlike the soft hackle, the names of most fly styles designate the position of the insects they imitate within the water column. The dry fly, emerger, or nymph denominates an imitative function in the pattern style, the maturity of the insects in relation to their distance from the water’s surface. Streamers are a bit different. Their name indicates that they undulate or stream out beyond the bend of the hook in imitation of a fish, crawfish, salamander, or even a larger nymph. Like the dry fly, emerger, and nymph, however, the streamer’s denomination suggests a specific, imitative functionality. Soft hackles, on the other hand, derive their name from a single part of the fly alone, the prominent, spider-like hackle. The name makes no reference to the style’s position in the water or its imitative qualities, which are indicative of the pattern’s versatility. T. E. Pritt's North-Country Flies (1886) is the standard primer for soft hackles, and he notes that "it is far more difficult to imitate a perfect insect and to afterwards impart to it a semblance of life in or on the water, than it is to produce something which is sufficiently near a resemblance of an imperfectly developed insect, struggling to attain the surface of the stream. Trout undoubtedly take a hackle fly for the insect just rising from the pupa in a half-drowned state; and the opening and closing of the fibres of the feathers give it an appearance of vitality, which even the most dexterous fly-fisher will fail to impart to the winged imitations." Since it can be fished just under the surface as an emerger or even near the stream’s bottom as a nymph, and anywhere in between (as well as on the surface, with a bit of finesse), the soft hackle cannot be confined to a name that limits its functionality to a specific position in the current or moment in the hatch.

In order to better define the novelty of his own pet style, the nymph, G. E. M. Skues contrasted nymph with the traditional soft-hackle. In his Nymph Fishing for Chalk Stream Trout, the soft hackle is not a nymph, but rather a fly “with long hackles . . . fished dragging downstream so that the hackles closely clasp the body.” The modern dean of the American soft hackle, Sylvester Nemes, defines the style in The Soft-Hackled Fly as “a class of wingless, subaqueous flies, the hackles of which come mostly from birds such as partridge, woodcock, grouse, snipe, and starling.” Each focuses on the material form of the soft-hackled fly and, fittingly, only the hackle itself. A more comprehensive sense of the soft hackle is evident in Vernon S. Hidy’s attempt to conflate the range of wet fly patterns his mentor James Leisenring tied to imitate the insects of Pennsylvania’s limestone streams. Hidy called it the “flymph,” which is “a wingless, artificial fly with a soft, translucent body of fur or wool which blends with the undercolor of the tying silk when wet, utilizing soft hackle fibers easily activated by the currents to give the effect of an insect alive in the water.” While it deemphasizes the soft hackle—the notion of a flymph presumes, after all, to redefine the nature of the soft-hackled fly—Hidy’s definition asserts a specific purpose and function for the material form that other definitions leave off.  

The best definition of a soft-hackled fly begins with the namesake hackle, as in Skues and Nemes, and develops a fly around it, like Hidy.

A Definition of the Soft-Hackled Fly
The soft-hackled fly is identified by the prominence of its hackle, which is selected for its ability to suggest the dominant patterns in coloration of the insect it imitates and for the characteristic softness of its fibers.  Softness in such fibers refers to three crucial attributes: a yielding pliability, greater width, and absorptive quality. Most commonly, soft hackles are taken from landbirds, but may also be taken from poultry, including hen and some cock hackles All other parts and attributes of the soft-hackled fly are subordinate to the qualities of the hackle itself. Since the hackle is always wound sparsely at the the head, soft-hackled fly bodies are correspondingly thin and also color coordinated to match the hackle in imitating a particular insect. Soft-hackled fly bodies aim for translucence and are generally muted in color. They may be divided into an abdomen and thorax, but also, more traditionally, a herl head, often peacock but occasionally magpie. The soft-hackled fly is sometimes ribbed and sometimes tipped or will have tails, but it will never have wings (even though historical treatments of the North Country soft hackle will often include winged and hackled patterns side-by-side).




A Rationale
Like the best artificial flies, a soft-hackled fly creates the effect of a unified, whole insect suggestively. In the soft-hackled fly, this effect results from the dominance of the soft hackle, which suggests the primary attributes of the insect to be imitated, whether they are the wings or the legs or even the body of the insect, when the soft hackle is pressed back against the body of the imitation by the pressure of a swift current. The remainder of the fly complements the hackle to suggest the lesser prominent attributes of the insect.

In its simplest and most utilitarian form, a soft hackle will always be comprised of at least two parts: the definitive, soft hackle itself and the thread that secures this hackle to the hook. A soft hackle in the Scottish or Yorkshire tradition, for instance, is little more than a silk thread body and a landbird hackle. The softness of these hackles results from fibers that are wider and much more pliable than those of dry flies. As a result, they are more absorptive than other types of feathers, rendering the fly easier to fish below the surface, matching the emergent forms of nymphal or pupal insects. The classic soft hackle was tied almost exclusively with hackles from landbirds since they were often softer and of a more varied coloration than poultry hackles. These landbird hackles popularly include the English or French partridge, starling, English red grouse, American grouse, woodcock, snipe, jackdaw, but in the American tradition can also include crow, mourning dove, bobwhite quail, and others. Yet poultry feathers, particularly from hens and the softer Indian rooster necks, also have a similar pliability and absorptive quality.  To better imitate aquatic insects and to enhance the qualities of pliability and absorption, these hackles are wound onto the hook sparsely. By this logic, a fly palmered with a soft poultry hackle might technically be considered a soft hackle, but no one would ever try to argue that a Woolly Worm or Woolly Bugger is a soft hackle. In most cases, a soft-hackled fly is hackled just behind the eye of the fly, at the forward terminus of the thorax, or at most in the front third of the hook shank. The placement of the soft hackle suggests the dominant attributes of the insect, usually its wings and legs or the overall effect of the insect’s combined attributes.

Since the name of the style establishes the dominant trait of the fly, all other parts must be secondary to that material trait, a soft hackle. Thus a soft-hackled fly will not have a wing of paired quill sections or other materials, as they would dominate the fly and overpower the hackle. In addition to its hackle, a soft-hackled fly will have a sparse body and tails, on occasion. As the parts of the soft-hackled fly complement the hackle itself, the body should be thin and less likely to distract from the hackle; soft hackle bodies should be relatively drab to coordinate with the hackle itself and should have a translucency that suggests the body of the insect.


The South Fork of the New River

The Modus Operandi
A blog dedicated to tying soft-hackled flies ought naturally to follow as simple a pattern as the simplicity of the patterns it catalogs. So will it be with this blog: each biweekly posting will provide a recipe for a particular soft-hackled fly and a corresponding picture. In some instances, postings will also include recipe variants and pictures, but the posts will include little to no commentary beyond acknowledgement of the pattern’s creator, whenever it is available. Principally, this blog will be an online pattern book, and my dressings true to the spirit of the original flies, even if they do not follow the recipe verbatim. For instance, I use regular tying threat, cotton embroidery thread, silk buttonhole twist, or the more traditional Pearsall's gossamer silk or marabou silk variably, to create different effects. Likewise, I substitute modern, legal equivalents like hen back or starling for the owl eyebrows and songbird coverets of older recipes.

For the sake of consistency, all soft-hackled flies pictured on this blog have been dressed on straight shank dry fly hooks in size 14. In tying for my fly box, however, I generally reserve this sort of hook for bodies tied with quill, feather or biot. A curved, wide-gap dry fly hook often works best, though not exclusively, for thread, silk, tubing, or dubbed body flies.

The patterns for the patterns depicted here come largely from the following texts:

Sylvester Nemes
     The Soft-Hackled Fly Addict (1981)
     The Soft-Hackled Fly (1975, and esp. 2nd ed. 2006)
     Two Centuries of Soft Hackles (2004)

Nemes’s texts, especially Two Centuries, have been invaluable in locating historical texts that list traditional soft hackle patterns and, in some cases, providing recipes from those texts.

Also,

     Leslie Magee - Fly Fishing: The North Country Tradition (1994)
     Dave Hughes - Wet Flies (1995), and the second edition (2015)
     Robert L. Smith - The North Country Fly: Yorkshire's Soft Hackle Tradition (2015)

·  Dame Julianna Berners—A treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle (1496)
·  Charles Cotton—The Compleat Angler (1676 fly fishing additions to Izaak Walton’s original text)
·  Richard (father) and Charles (son) Bowlker—The Universal Angler; or, The Art of Angling Improved (Nemes credits the book for staying in print from 1747-1824, but Richard Bowlker's first edition was published in 1758 and Charles Bowlker's in 1774 as The Art of Angling, and Compleat Fly-Fishing. )
·  John Turton—The Angler's Manual; or, the Fly-Fisher's Oracle (1836)
·  John Kirkbride—The Northern Angler (1837)
·  Michael Theakston—A List of Natural Flies that are taken by Trout, Grayling, & Smelt in the Streams of Ripon (1853)
·  John Jackson—The Practical Angler (1854), published posthumously
·  W. C. Stewart—The Practical Angler (1857)
·  T. E. Pritt
     Yorkshire Trout Flies (1885)
     reprinted as North-Country Flies (1886)
·  E. M. Tod—Wet-Fly Fishing Treated Methodically (1903)
·  Harfield H. Edmonds and Norman N. Lee—Brook and River Trouting (1916)
·  G. E. M. Skues
     Minor Tactics of the Chalk Stream (1910)
     The Way of a Trout with the Fly (1921)
·  James Leisenring and Pete Hidy—The Art of Tying the Wet Fly & Fishing the Flymph (1941); generally referenced in this blog as James Leisenring’s book since he provided the dressings
·  Roger Woolley—Modern Trout Fly Dressing (1950)
·  Allen Mcgee—Tying and Fishing Soft-Hackled Nymphs (2007)

According to Nemes in Two Centuries of Soft Hackles (2004) and Ernest Schwiebert discussion of the development of nymphal imitation in Nymphs (1973), the following are also worth review for their treatment of soft-hackled flies:

·  John YoungerRiver Angling (1840)
·  William Blacker—The Art of Fly Making (1843)
·  David Webster—The Angler and the Loop Rod (1885)
·  John Waller Hills
     A History of Fly Fishing for Trout (1921)
     The River Keeper (1934)