Video how to fish a soft hackle

The most common and effective way to fish a wet fly is on the swing. Since they most often represent an emerger, the motion of the swing and the construction of the fly makes for a combination that is hard for any fish that is selectively eating emergers to pass up.

  • Position yourself within 30 to 50 feet upstream of feeding fish or a likely holding area. Make your distance measuring casts off to one side or the other. This way you avoid casting directly on top of the fish and spooking them. Measure just a few feet of extra line in the cast; you’ll be presenting the fly just beyond the trout’s feeding lane. Change the direction on the final delivery cast to place the fly on the water 2 to 3 feet beyond the fish, and 2 to 3 feet upstream from it.
  • Now that your cast has landed, lift the rod tip slightly to straighten the line and give the fly the slightest tug with your line. Until you do this, the wet flies may be stuck on the surface tension and not sink. When you tug the line, the fly will dive underwater and take few bubbles of air under with it. If you fail to give this slight tug, the fly may remain on top and cut a wake right in front of the trout and likely spook the fish.
  • Once the swing has begun, drop the rod point again, but not enough to make the line go entirely slack. You want the line to draw the fly in an arc right across the bow of the rising trout.
  • When done just right, the water will boil right up under your fly and you’ll feel a pull. Resist yanking on the rod to set the hook, the trout will set the hook on the take and since you are on a tight line, the fish should just be hooked I the corner of the mouth. Continue the arc of the rod towards the bank to aid in setting the hook.
  • If the fish fails to take, let the fly swing well away before lifting it to cast again. On the next casts, vary the dropping point of the fly. The fish may be backing down from its lie when it eats a natural emerger, so that the rises you see are a few feet below where the fish is actually eating the bug. It’s usually best to make your first casts 5 feet or so upstream in the first place, working the swing lower with each cast.
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When you come across some tricky trout that seem to be refusing your dry flies, or even your emerging dry fly patterns, then it’s time to open the book of fly fishing history and go back to a technique that’s worked for fly fisherman since the beginning. While the wet fly swing is the most common way to fish them, don’t be afraid to try a wet fly pattern on your indicator rig. Soft hackles are also over looked as nymphing patterns and can be just as effective under an indicator and fished deep.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>