Hackle size

The Forum is Closed. Forums The Hatch Hackle size

This topic contains 23 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Creek 9 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #7691

    Scotty MacFly
    Spectator

    While tying hackle, I believe the general rule is 1 to 1 1/2 times the hook gap. Ok, fine.

    I have one of those hook-hackle gauges to help me size my hackle, and it works well I guess. But if the general rule is 1 to 1 1/2 times the size of the gap, why even use a gauge?

    My question is, what size is preferred, gap size, or 1 1/2 size bigger? I think I remember my grandfather saying to make it on the large size because if the fish “tastes” the hook first, it won’t bite. But as quick as the takes are, and some are pretty vicious, how would the fish know soon enough before I set the hook, or they hook themselves. That’s something I have always questioned, but my grandfather always knew what he was talking about.

    Bigger hackle would make the fly sit differently on the surface than smaller hackle, but also, because it just came to mind, is there a time and a place sort of speak for different sized hackle?

    #7692

    Creek
    Spectator

    Not sure trout spit out a fly from how it feels as much as how it tastes. I’m sure they can smell and taste, or bait wouldn’t work so well.

    As for hackle size? I just go by how it looks. I never measure it, but I believe I do make it a bit longer for our fast waters.

    #7693

    Grsdlnr
    Spectator

    I’ve never owned a hackle gauge. Checking a hackle against the hook gap always worked well enough for me. As long as it looks good, it’s good.

    About the only hackled mayfly pattern I tie anymore is Rene Harrop’s Hairwing Dun (though I prefer the look of a biot body to the original dubbed one) Since the hackle is trimmed on the bottom to make the fly sit lower in the water, a hackle about 1X the hook gap works fine.

    On the relatively few standard hackled patterns I still tie, it really depends on where they’re going to be used – rough water flies like Wulffs need longer hackle.

    #7694

    Lightline
    Spectator

    Depends on what I want the hackle to do for me. I never use a guage, but often bend the hackle around the hook or post to just get a glimpse of what it might look like after wrapping. I tend to go longer rather than shorter. 1.5X to 2X the gap. I often use a wrapped hackle to represent the upright and/or spent wings of a dun. All my hackled flies either have a clipped-flush hackle when traditionally wound, parachute style wrapped parallel to the hook shank, or a collar style like in a cripple.

    Another style, for which I like a 2X long hackle, is on my soft-hackled dries, on which I mainly use partridge for. I gink/powder ’em and let a few of the hackles penetrate the film and move naturally in the surface while the hackles on “top” of the fly remain high and dry, also moving naturally in the breeze and providing visibility/flotation. “Alive” and moving, but still dead-drifted.

    Overall, I think exaggerated-length hackles serve as a better trigger than a shorter hackle in nearly all situations. Sparse and long. Same with tails when I use them. I like ’em long, but sparse, not clumps. Most of my mayfly tails these days are nothing more than a strand or two of tying thread.

    #7695

    Scotty MacFly
    Spectator

    So in rougher water it’s good to have the longer hackle to help keep it afloat, and in softer water, shorter hackle will ( or by choice, could ) be the call if one wanted to tie that way?

    Ok, that helps.

    For the hackle gauge, it also has hook sizes for the hooks themselves, but it only has one type of hook style and that’s a wide gap hook, which is what I use. So, any other type of gap, it’ becomes useless.

    Lightline, I never thought of using soft hackle for dries. How did you come up with that, or is that idea been around awhile?

    I’m getting the picture that going longer isn’t going to hurt the flies at all.

    #7698

    Lightline
    Spectator

    I started using softer hackles and true “soft hackle” for dries after reading and talking with Rene Harrop about the wonderful characteristic of CDC. Not only does it float like a cork when properly powdered, but it moves naturally like an insect. Syl Nemes also wrote about this decades ago in his soft hackle bibles. As I began to use simpler and sparser flies that consisted of just thread and a feather or a single hackle, which I use a lot to this day, Ginking a soft hackle seemed appropriate. They’re deadly! My go-to imitations for mayfly duns and spinners are thread-body or biot body patterns with either a cdc feather, wrapped rooster or hen hackle, or a turn or two of partridge hackle. Sparse, float, and work wonders on the waters I fish. I fish high-riding patterns next to never. Just don’t fish much faster water or blind fish much.

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by  Lightline.
    #7700

    Creek
    Spectator

    Sly was making copies of the North Country Spiders. It’s a wet fly fished right under the surface. Soft hackle is perfect for that. I would think it’s too soft to hold up a dry fly, but I never tried it.

    Scotty and me are heavy into the spider style of fly. I like the history of them too. They were around long before dry flies showed up on the Chalk Streams. I sent Scotty a bunch of spiders I tied up, but he never told me how they worked for him. Scotty?

    #7701

    Scotty MacFly
    Spectator

    Lightline, Jonathan Barnes fishes CDC hackled dry flies a lot, and praises their fish catching abilities. I forgot about those videos for a minute when you mentioned using soft hackles for dries. I never fished them, but hey, why not for this next year.

    Creek, as for your spiders you gave me, I never left home to go fishing without them. When I had enough of fishing dries for the day, I put on your spiders, and they were fantastic. On the days I couldn’t get a fish to rise to a dry, the spiders came to the rescue. When nothing else works, they always seem to produce.

    #7702

    Creek
    Spectator

    Makes you just want to fish spiders huh Scotty? Lot’s of fisherman still do that in the UK. Just like the old days.

    Were you fishing them upstream?

    #7703

    Scotty MacFly
    Spectator

    Upstream all the way. Just like my grandfather taught me. But I can only do two flies, three is still a little messy for me at times with knotting up.

    #7704

    Creek
    Spectator

    I don’t like 3 flies either. Even when you catch a fish the other flies try to get us. I actually like just one fly the best. Fish it just like a dry, but it’s under the surface a foot or so. I really have to focus to be successful. Fun stuff.

    #7705

    Grsdlnr
    Spectator

    CDC softhackles,eh?

    cdcsofthackle2

    #7706

    Lightline
    Spectator

    Ya, that’s a nice version Grsdlnr! And that’s a fancy one by my minimalist standards, though sometimes I’ll build ’em complete just like that and add just a tiny tuft of dark antron on the tail that supposedly represents the shuck. (Harrop influence) That bug will get more eats than any Catskill or parachute pattern fished by the same person all day long. Makes me dreamy for PMD’s in 6 months! Merry Christmas.

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by  Lightline.
    #7708

    Lightline
    Spectator
    #7709

    Scotty MacFly
    Spectator

    Those look incredible. And quick to tie as well.

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