Fishing Drake Soft-Hackles

Moderators: William Anderson, letumgo

Post Reply
User avatar
William Anderson
Site Admin
Posts: 4520
Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:14 pm
Location: Ashburn, VA 20148

Fishing Drake Soft-Hackles

Post by William Anderson » Mon Dec 22, 2014 3:29 pm

In another thread in the dressing section, a couple beautiful drake patterns were posted exhibiting some very specific attributes in the fly design. I know Eric is a world class tier and he's lived a life that has allowed him to experiment and hone his tying/presentation in ways I DREAM of. This question if for Eric Peper and many others with more experience than myself.

I have fished, sparingly, the Iso hatches, most effectively with parachute patterns and a couple of times using nymphs, but I've tied and would like to pursue them with a soft-hackle and a different emerging method. Green Drakes too have paid off occasionally, but again with dries/klinks or nymphs. I tie soft-hackle representations but have never been effective using them. Partly its not being in the water at optimal times and only encountering these hatches sporadically.

Who has been successful fishing drake soft-hackles or flymphs, and what were the methods and conditions. I realize this is a loaded question as all drake species hatch in different ways and in different conditions, but I'd like to hear all of it. Much appreciation in advance.

"A man should not try to eliminate his complexes, but rather come into accord with them. They are ultimately what directs his conduct in the world." Sigmund Freud.
User avatar
Posts: 1707
Joined: Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:46 pm
Location: NH/VT border

Re: Fishing Drake Soft-Hackles

Post by Smuggler » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:14 pm

William, maybe we've discussed this in the past but, I've quite often caught Slate Drake emergences on Slate Run. I would have tremendous success with a soft hackle quill body fished upstream like a dry fly, picking pocket water. Took an 18" brown from that stream with that tactic.

Other that that I haven't had much success or enough experience with other drake species mayfly. Hopefully that changes this coming year.
Mataura mayfly
Posts: 3648
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:28 am
Location: Southland, South Island, New Zealand.

Re: Fishing Drake Soft-Hackles

Post by Mataura mayfly » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:24 pm

What ever happened to "toss a fly in the water- they hit- you hold on?

I cannot pretend to understand the Drake's of various types- nor the pressure on some of your waters...... but trouts are trouts the World over.

You mention the dries/emergers and nymphs you have used thus far- how are you fishing (presenting) the soft hackles in relation to the success you have had with the others?
Personally I would be tying them on dry fly hooks and fishing in the top two inches of the surface water and casting upstream. Trying to pass the fly off as a cripple/drowned adult or stuck shuck emerger- dead drift from upstream without drag. I do not think swung downstream would fool a trout actively feeding on naturals (on or just below the surface) and upstream to right angles to you might give the most life like drift.
The other thing to think about is accuracy. If a trout is feeding close to the surface, the sight cone/window is reduced. If he is on a fixed station and taking what the currents bring to him, rather than cruising a pool, you have to present your fly almost dab on his snout for him to have a slash at it. If there are a lot of insects on/in the water during a hatch, they (the trout) tend not to move far out of their channel or station and will pass food too far out of reach to wait for the next that is within reach.

That is just how I might approach it, may not work for you- different insects on different waters, but it might give you some food for thought. ;)
"Listen to the sound of the river and you will get a trout".... Irish proverb.
User avatar
Eric Peper
Posts: 244
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:28 pm
Location: Austin, TX and Island Park, ID

Re: Fishing Drake Soft-Hackles

Post by Eric Peper » Mon Dec 22, 2014 4:40 pm

William, the green drake hatch on the Henry's Fork and the brown drake hatch each year bring up the largest fish in the river as well as the most anglers. The fishing can be insanely simple, and it can be absolutely maddening. I developed the drake flymph for a very unusual and somewhat obtuse reason. When the green drakes (and some other species) appear we are also invaded by huge squadrons of gulls diving to take the emerging bugs. We all know how trout behave when there is a threat from above. The fish do not want to get any closer to the surface than they have to. It occurred to me that because they weren't gonna give up eating drakes, they might very well find a sub-surface fly more attractive. The fly works.


This is a duplicate post from the "Dressings" section.
A mountain is a fact -- a trout is a moment of beauty known only to men who seek them.
Al McClane in his Introduction to The Practical Fly Fisherman . . . often erroneously attributed to Arnold Gingrich
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 530
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:28 pm
Location: Cheesehead

Re: Fishing Drake Soft-Hackles

Post by ForumGhillie » Tue Dec 30, 2014 6:01 pm

For Iso I fish a nymph since they go to the edge of the stream and crawl onto a rock, log or along the shoreline to hatch. Eric has an excellent Iso bicolor nymph pattern he can show you. I use one similar but for Iso sadleri which does not have the bold strip down the back of the nymph (Basically peacock herl with copper wire ribbing.). I had some good success with the Leadwing Coachman as well when the river is high.

For the Brown Drake I have been playing with several different soft hackle pattern ideas for the past 2-3 years, but I have had trouble hitting the hatch to really test them out. The late Spring snows followed by some hot weather has played havoc on predicting the hatches lately. I really think a soft hackle fished in the surface film could work really well during the evening Brown Drake hatch.

Jim and I hit the Drakes below Campfire Lodge a couple of years ago in the evening right at dusk. I used a fly based off of Eric's pattern, as well as a CDC Drake emerger pattern.
Post Reply