Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Versatile Soft Hackle Fly

My last trip Fishing the Sipsey was on June 5th. dodging rain showers most of the morning. This past Wednesday I was met with heavy fog thanks to the tremendous amount of humidity we have been experiencing here in Alabama. If you live in the South expect the humidity in the summertime. I've said it time and again summer is not my favorite time of the year.
I made my first cast looking up the tailrace from above access 5. To my surprise, there were only a few fishermen casting above and below me. I usually tie on a particular fly pattern in the parking lot before I ever step into the water, but this morning I wanted to check out the surface activity before I selected a fly. The surface film was super smooth but still had enough current to attract a take. With no surface activity visible I went with a soft hackle thinking I might get a reaction, no such luck. I've found that size and color in the hackle pattern makes a difference when fishing a calm water surface. 
First of the morning in what seemed like a while to get a hit using a cream color hackle. I was using my 3 wt. Streamflex 9 ft. I knew the size trout that was stocked in the tailrace a couple of weeks ago; all were in the 9 to 10-inch range, so the 3 wt. was the right selection.  These trout were having nothing to do with anything above size 18 fly pattern this morning, at least that was my opinion. In order to get a hit, I had to work an area slowly and have a tremendous amount of patience using a small soft hackle. One needs every advantage available when fishing this tailrace, because of the tremendous amount of fishing pressure it gets,. I would land this trout's twin before moving on up towards access 6.
    Another Dale Hollow Hatchery trout taken letting a size 18 hackle drift slowly over a couple of pocket holes. I was using a 6X fluorocarbon tippet to get a better presentation of the fly. I started with a 5X but soon discovered I needed a lighter presentation because these trout spooked easy and had been bombarded with endless flies for the past 10 days. 
My last of the morning near access 6 fishing right below the fast water that exists in access 6. This trout was a whole over from the last stocking either in June or May. It barely broke the surface to inhale a tiny soft hackle. There are very few of these trout left above access 5 now. So when you land a quality trout now consider it a prize. This size was the norm for me dating back to my first trip here in April. I guess I've become somewhat spoiled landing this size trout as opposed to the smaller ones I landed today, but I shouldn't complain because the 9/10 inch was a lot of fun on the 3 wt. 
P.S. I was going to fish fast water today but it wasn't possible, because------next Sipsey Tailrace post


  1. Bill great thinking on your part to adapt to what the trout want. Many fish and never give thought to it.
    Humidity is a disgusting part of summer. But like you we adapt and get out there anyway.
    Nice rainbows....

  2. You did well, considering some difficult summer conditions. The light touch of a small soft-hackle was probably the best choice to be taken. Glad you had a good morning on the river, and thanks for sharing it.

  3. Alan
    The only time I fish this time of the year is early in the morning. I've found that is usually when the fish are the most active. Thanks for the comment

  4. Walt
    I've found that on days when the trout are really picky the hackle is the fly I go to for a hit. The only downside to fishing a small fly for me is being able to see it. I do miss-hits because of the size of the fly. Thanks for the comment

  5. My Uncle told my dad, move to the South (in our case Florida). You'll love the tropical climate. Tropical climate = Hot, Humid, and bugs. Back then we didn't even have A/C. Ya did a good job on those Rainbows.

  6. Mark
    The older I get the more I hate the humidity here. Cathey and I considered moving to Montana right after we got married. We look back now and wish we because of the humidity and tornadoes. Thanks for the comment

  7. Hi Bill, I love that misty image of the river. Well done on another successful outing to the Sipsey. Your post has reminded me to use soft hackled flies more often. I tend to ignore them.

  8. Justin
    I can thank Alan at "Small Streams Reflections" for putting me on the Soft Hackle. He fishes them all the time and has great success with the flies. The tiny ones in size 18 to 20 work when the trout are finicky. I have used some as large as size 14 with success. Thanks for the comment