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 find new places to fish. He created DIY Fly Fishing to help you do the same.
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