Narrator Tim Flager provides some handy tips for tying a beadhead soft-hackle pheasant tail such as using the ribbing wire to tie in the pheasant tail after wrapping the abdomen. I also learn something new about Peacock herl, that is there are two-sides.
If you can’t tell which is the “stem-side” just try tying it in one way and they flip it over and try again. You’ll notice the difference. When the “stem-side” is tied in facing you the herl will stand out a bit more. This is important on this soft-hackle pattern as it helps flare out the soft hackle that in turn helps create a pulsing action when fished. You can test this out in a tank of water if you’d like to see for yourself.
I often pair a soft-hackle with a larger wooly bugger in the winter, fishing them first on a dead drift and then on the swing. Often the larger wooly bugger will get a fishes attention and but if for some reason they change their mind they might end up settling for the smaller soft-hackle. When the water is cold I’ll fishing them in tandem so both flies are at the same depth and as deep as possible. A slow retrieve works best under these conditions to provide sluggish fish a chance to respond. If it happens be a warmer winter day and there is some bug activity, even if it is just midges, I’ll fish the soft-hackle on dropper above the wooly bugger so it rides higher in the water column. In this case I prefer a soft-hackle tied without a bead to allow a bit more movement. Anyway you fish it, a soft-hackle pheasant tail is hard to beat.
Hook: 2X-long nymph hook (here a Dai-Riki #730), size 16
Bead: 3/32-inch gold bead
Thread: Olive, 6/0 or 140-denier
Rib: Copper Ultra Wire, small
Tail and Abdomen: Pheasant tail fibers
Thorax: Peacock herl
Collar: Hungarian partridge
Ken is an avid fisherman of 40+ years who loves to explore and is on a quest to map the best places for fly fishing in America. He created DIY Fly Fishing and the DIY Fly Fishing App to share this information and help you find new places to fish. Have a question? You can get in touch with Ken here.
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