It is the life like movement of the snipe hackle in the Snipe and Purple soft hackle trout fly fishing pattern that makes it attractive to fish when it is retrieved and paused. They soft hackles mimic the natural swimming movement of an ascending subsurface aquatic nymph or caddis pupae.
SOFT HACKLE NORTH COUNTRY SPIDER WET FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 12 14 - $US each
I think lifelike movements in a fly with a lively kick is far more important than exact imitation. North country soft hackle wet flies like the Snipe and Purple wet fly pattern gives you this quality that attracts trout and makes them take your fly. It has to be a reasonable likeness to work, but it is the fly's action when fished through the water that matters. I find it is the movement of the very soft materials used for the hackles that is the greatest attractor feeding fish.
These flies have three names by which they are called. They are known globally as soft hackled wet flies. In Britain they go by two other names. They are called "Spider flies", because of the appearance of the thinly dressed hackle and "North Country flies". These flies are around 300 years old and were originally designed for rough stream trout fishing. Soft hackle patterns like the snipe and purple or the Partridge and orange are based upon natural insect like olives, iron blues and stung flies, which are abundant and streams. They are not so common in lakes and reservoirs. Therefore soft hackle patterns are more often associated with stream and River trout fishing.
Because the movement that is designed into this fly pattern is so good, I use them for large open water flyfishing. They appear to the fish is a deadly imitation of hatching and the sending sedge caddis pupae. On the pause, the hackles open up and on the retrieve they close together by the hook shank. This pattern imitates the swimming motion of these aquatic insects that form a large part of a trout daily menu.
You can also use soft hackle fishing flies to imitate the drowned dun mayfly. The method is fairly simple. When there is a good breeze blowing over Stillwater, look for a trout that has taking up a position, where he continually rises to suck down floating duns as they drift by. If you are armed with an appropriate soft hackle fly that matches the duns in size and color, these trout provide an excellent target. Cast your fishing fly very slightly up wind of the rise and left to sink and drift naturally past that spot. As you get near the trout, add a slight twitch to the line to make the soft hackle kick and thereby produce a lifelike motion to attract the feeding fish's attention.
Nymphs and pupae that are swimming to the surface do so in an almost vertical ascent. This can be problematic to imitate. If you use an ordinary sinking line, flies are fished in the horizontal plane. A floating line with a sink tip can be more effective. Just let the tip sink down before retrieving. Will find the floating part of the line will raise the sink tip and the flies in a more vertical natural seductive manner. The other option is to use a team of flies with a weighted fly on the point. You allow a weighted fly to sink down until the leader is nearly vertical. As you retrieve your team flies, the floating line works flies slowly towards the surface, imitating the swimming motion of the natural insect's. As the floating line is retrieved just as the flies which the surface, look out the trout that have followed them up from the depths. Be prepared for a take. Also I have found that some surface feeding trout will suddenly make for the flies having only just spotted them and taking them for newly arrived emerging flies.
Many species of upwinged flies have Brown models wings. These are imitated by using Brown speckled Partridge hackle in patterns like the Partridge and orange, Partridge and read plus the Partridge and yellow soft hackle flies. The claret dun, which is found on many Stillwater is a dark fly with slate grey wings. The snipe and purple soft hackle fly pattern works as a good imitation of these flies.
Caddis of various types are a large part of a stillwater trout's menu throughout the summer. Many fly fisherman love the thrill of fishing for trout with a caddis dry fly pattern that when pulled across the surface causes a "V" shaped wake behind it, imitating the natural fly as it makes for dry land after having just hatched. Research has shown that trout actually feed more on the ascending caddis pupae than on the hatched adult fly. There is a better chance of catching more fish using a soft hackle fishing fly pattern under the surface, then if you used a caddis dry fly on top of the surface.
Lake fly fishing in October
The first full moon of October is appropriately known as the "Hunter's Moon". I always make time for a fishing trip to a local large lake or reservoir at this time as the extra light on the water after dusk is so helpful. The spawning urge has made the trout firm, fit and aggressive. They have a need to find food to fuel the energy they need. I normally find them within 20 yards of the bank, hunting in the top section of the water column. I like to use the same team of flies during October as they have produce good fish form me again and again. Snipe and purple soft hackle wet fly, pheasant tail and a weighted orange and black Montana stonefly nymph on the point under a floating line. I fish from the bank and regard the 20 yard strip of bankside water as if it was a river. I ignore any occasional activity further from the bank. If the fish are showing then I cover them with my casts. If I cannot see any movement then I have to try and find where they are feeding. To start my search I divide up the water in quarters and cover it with casts just like I would do on a river. I use the water to animate my flies making sure I cove all the possible fish lies.
I had caught two smaller fish, one brookie and one rainbow, on your #14 snipe and purple (my favorite). This fast moving stream, in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Boone, North Carolina USA, is about four meters wide and this spot was free of the rhododendron bushes that line most of these waterways. This was a catch and release day so they all went back in. - Gregory P. Chacos USA
Importantly, it was the magic catching power of these North Country Spiders that persuaded the fishers of England's southern chalk streams to downside their over-sized patterns. Three Spiders fished across-and-down is one of my favourite techniques - anywhere in the world! Gregor Fulton McGregor
I use soft hackle fly patterns subsurface on a floating line size 14 at sun set or on a Czech nymph system as the top dropper. I also swing them in the tail of the pool early season for yellow fish. By Dries de Bruyn
I am big fan of a weighted soft hackle which I think imitates those late stages pretty well.- nymphed through the run and then swung up and across - most of my takes are on the swing which makes for very exciting fishing! - Sean Tate