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Discussion Starter #1
For those of you swinging soft hackles I wanted to start a discussion around the equipment used, rigging, and presentation.

I've primarily swung streamers for trout but do occasionally throw on something smaller. I'd love to do more of it and need to figure the process out.

I've found a skandi with 12-15 foot leader on the ACR 3 wt handles like a dream and every time I wonder why I don't use them more frequently. I tend to go right into the classic wet fly swing but know there's gotta be more to this approach...


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This is a great idea Scot

I use Beulah's Elixer switchch and Spey lines and they can handle a lot of tips (up to 92grains) and the Spey (up to 112grains) they shoot with precision and better than any other line. I use light clear tips for shallow water that have a 1.2 IPA to Z7 (6-9ft) for deeper water and larger flies

Soft hackles are a lot of fun as are the traditional salmon flies on standard irons or weightless Spey flies

I'll make a video of the Elixer lines but they are so effective skagit is really only required for very deep or windy days with huge flies now
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Sounds interesting James! I have a scandi the folks at Deschutes Angler cut for my ACR but always interested in tweaking things.

I have a feeling my relative lack of confidence is a direct result of my lack of time spent with the effort.


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Scot let me check my line inventory and see if I have a 275 that may work for you. You could try it out and see if you want one. I have a 4/5 AFS and a few others like a steelhead scandi @310

You would be more than welcome to borrow any of them


PS

I'll make a casting video showing the difference between beulahs Elixer and some competitive lines. It's astounding
 
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just got allen magee's newer book SOFT HACKLES and dave hughes WET FLIES as well . good info in those 2 books . tying and techniques . spent a good deal of winter tying time on soft hackles this year . the rivers are just coming in shape we'll see what happens . also using a 3wt sr 3106 echo and a 240 scandi line with a long ( 15') leader . i need more work with that set up . i picked up the scandi this winter and haven't used it much . i'll be watching this post to see what works for others .
thanks , jim
 

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I don't fish for trout or landlocks much any more, but when I do, all I do is swing this soft hackle; you might consider giving it some swings, too. It has been a great fly, bringing to hand the largest landlock I've ever hooked. On a day when everyone else was swinging Stevens' style streamers.

The River's Course: Tying a Simple but Snazzy Soft Hackle

Gary

P.S. I miss my Beulah Platinum 11'7" 5wt...should never have sold it!
 

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I use custom Steve Godshall scandi lines that use tips on a 13' Meiser 4ish weight spey, and sometimes on a 10.5' switch on smaller water. Swinging with all kinds of presentation, with tensioned rises if I suspect fish are in a particular spot. The tips are 10' 75 and 55 gr rio replacement tip sets for those two. I know Steve makes some of the lines that come with the ACRs. They are awesome, elegant lines on those rods. I discovered one of my guilty pleasures is swinging soft hackles and other small flies in places (and at times) with selective fish where the experts think you MUST do something like Czech nymph if you are not dry fly fishing. It works! Though sometimes it seems it is precisely because the water has been flogged with the same naturalistic nymphs for so long and by so many - swinging up a 20" rainbow on a well gnawed bird's nest somewhere in eyeshot of one of those guys trying to figure out "which nymphs their eatin' today" - as they say in the American Express commercials, priceless! Of course I still catch fewer fish, but I have a huge grin on my face the whole time.

I also built an ARE 12' 2/3wt a few months back, also with an SGS Scandi line - unfortunately going to get laid up for a bit right when the season is about to get going here so there will be a delay in christening that one.
 

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Scott,

More to your original question, as was suggested above, I can highly recommend Dave Hughs latest edition of Wet Flies. Terrific starting point with lengthy discussion of equipment, fly tying technique, and multiple fishing techniques. Wonderful little book.
 

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Oh yeah, Steve Bird, founder and editor of the Soft Hackle Journal will be at our Spey Clave up here in Winthrop, WA on July 15th!
 

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Grandpa Howard
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I use three rods for swinging for trout. 7'9" #4 cane, 8'8" #6, Scott G, and a Winston micro spey #5. Which I choose to use depends on the size of the river I am fishing. I use a team of flies, locally the limit is three flies, so I swing 3 flies most of the time. I use two lines, a dry and a sink tip. The sink tip is a type 3, with 10 feet of sinking line. Poly leaders when fishing the micro spey. I line the micro spey with a old Tactical Steelhead head from Airflo. Kind of cool how Wet Fly fishing is coming back around. When I started fly fishing you either fished a dry fly or swung wet flies. Those that fished nymphs used a full sinking line using the Leisenring Lift or a sink tip using the Brooks method. I was never able to master either method, but I could catch them on the swing, with wet flies. Swinging flies for trout took a back seat when bobber nymphing came about. It wasn't until Dec came out with his light line two handers, 12 years ago, that I returned to swinging for trout. I have had some crazy fun days on the South Fork of the Snake, Henry's Fork and Utah's Green River as well as the smaller not so well known streams, swinging flies. I am always ready to swings, no mater where I am fishing. It does not take a long rod to effectively swing flies, however the longer rods with a double handle do have a great feel and the two handed casts are pretty effective, even on the smaller rivers. I have found I can catch fish on the swing, even when there is no hatch activity. I do not limit myself to just soft hackles/spiders. I tie and fish all the old school flies as well as some of the traditional Irish wet flies. The Hares Ear, March Brown, and Ginger Quill are among my favorite. Fun stuff for sure.
 

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For my purposes I only use soft hackles to fish evening caddis emergences. even on the largest of rivers a 9 foot rod is overkill. Why? swinging soft hackles already has a low strike to hook up ratio therefore the shorter the cast the better. my rod of choice is a 8'3" 4 wt 9 foot leader tapered to 4x. i prefer larger flies because this fishing usually takes place after sunset. size 10 and 12 march brown spider is usually all you need. if that won't work but you still see fish rising you are probably better off with an elk hair or a dead drifted emerger like a sparkle pupa.

in trout fishing you don't have to search for the fish you already know where they are so using a soft hackle as a search pattern doesn't make much sense unless you just want to swing for the sake of swinging.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Botsari, you mentioned tensioned rises. Is this where you are letting it drift down and come tight so that it rises through the lie?

Thanks for the book recommendation! I will check it out Tom.


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Botsari, you mentioned tensioned rises. Is this where you are letting it drift down and come tight so that it rises through the lie?

Thanks for the book recommendation! I will check it out Tom.


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I fish nearly all my swings to a 'suspected' fish location, much the way I do on structured steelhead water. With trout, I'll usually try a fairly clean, un-worked swing initially, and then a Leisenring lift if a quiet swing doesn't work, or more frequently if caddis are active. Calculating the drop point of the fly, the sink rate, and the swing to coincide with the fish's feeding make, for me, a really fun and engaging way to fish. I find nymphing highly productive, and dull almost beyond comprehension. Though I will swing nymphs- I like tying them.
 

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D.P.Lee
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Soft hackled flies

My ACR 1241 12' 1" 4 weight with a 30 ft. 320 grain floating scandi head, 15 ft. leader plus 3 ft. of tippet, is my favorite rod for swinging soft hackled flies. Like most, my casts are usually made across and slightly downstream. Occasionally, I will cast slightly upstream to allow the fly to drift naturally in the current, somewhat reminiscent of the Atlantic salmon greased line technique. If I want to reduce belly in the line, I will increase the downstream angle, or make a reach cast, holding the rod upstream as the running line shoots through the guides. Once the fly, leader and line are on the water, I may make upstream mends in an effort to slow the fly’s progress as it swings through the holding water. Mending is done only to reduce line belly allowing the fly to drift more naturally. Slowing the swing down also allows the soft hackles of the fly to move in a life-like manner. The rod tip follows the line through the drift helping keep constant contact with the fly.

Dennis
 

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I think swinging soft hackles is one of the most effective methods to catch trout on my locals depending on the time of year. I swing two flies on a mono leader. The first fly is a bead head of varying weight, bigger if I feel a the need to get deeper. As we move into summer I'll keep it light, as long as my fly doesn't surface at the end of the swing. The second fly is my soft hackle. I vary color and size depending on what's hatching. Tight line takes! Have fun out there.
 

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I grew up and learned to fly fish in central PA, where there are still a few of the old wet fly men practicing their craft. One of the first ways I learned to fish was swimming a pair of wets through a gentle riffle. I purchased an Echo Glass 4 specifically to protect the light tippets and grabs on soft hackle, traditional wet, and caddis patterns. I would recommend a slower rod for this style of fishing. In keeping with PA guru and former PSU professor Joe Humphreys techniques, there a few things I try to follow. Keep the line as straight as you can, follow the flies with your rod tip, and keep your rod tip up! Steelhead and trout both inhale the fly, they don't actually "grab" it. Steelhead are large enough to get hooked when reel drag is lightly set or you carry a loop. Trout are relatively tiny and while I carry a little loop out of habit, it's more for action during the swing. If you keep your rod tip up (90 degree angle, tip to fly line) there is enough give in that angle for the trout to hook itself. As Joe says, if you keep your tip up those fish that are "striking short" get hooked much more frequently.

I've had great success with the Scandi, but lately I've also been experimenting with a cheater + poly leader on a Commando head, just for ease of switching set ups. Frequently, I'll swing a run with wets, then go back through with a tip and a streamer, and this set up is a faster change. You can always run two rods, of course. Most of you guys have a big quiver! I like to put my flies on a dropper set up. You can experiment. On big rivers like the Clark Fork and the Missouri in a caddis hatch or egg laying flight, the long cast swing is a great way to cover water. I hit an emergence on the Mo perfectly last May and I was getting a hit on nearly every cast. My buddy was trying to copy me with his single hand and I was still out hooking him 4 to 1. When it's on, it's on! Tough to beat the Deep or Emergent Sparkle Pupa with the ease of a 2-hander for these conditions. I just tie the traditional recipe and add a soft hackle to the head. Long live, Gary!

Answering Scot's original question now. Lol.

Echo 10'6" 4wt Glass Switch - 270 Airflo Scandi Compact or Switch Line - Mono leader 12-15' summer/warm time (knowing what I do now, I would back this weight down. I like it lighter I'm finding)

Winter/Early Spring - 225 Commando, 96gr. OPST 12' tips or 5' cheater + 10' Poly (float, hover, intermediate, whatever) with 3'+ tippet
 

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Botsari, you mentioned tensioned rises. Is this where you are letting it drift down and come tight so that it rises through the lie?

Thanks for the book recommendation! I will check it out Tom.


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Yes exactly.
 

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For my purposes I only use soft hackles to fish evening caddis emergences. even on the largest of rivers a 9 foot rod is overkill. Why? swinging soft hackles already has a low strike to hook up ratio therefore the shorter the cast the better. my rod of choice is a 8'3" 4 wt 9 foot leader tapered to 4x. i prefer larger flies because this fishing usually takes place after sunset. size 10 and 12 march brown spider is usually all you need. if that won't work but you still see fish rising you are probably better off with an elk hair or a dead drifted emerger like a sparkle pupa.

in trout fishing you don't have to search for the fish you already know where they are so using a soft hackle as a search pattern doesn't make much sense unless you just want to swing for the sake of swinging.
Im going to counter by stating that the longer rod is not primariily about longer casts. It is about greater control of, and more options with the presentation. This is as true of steelhead fishing as swinging for trout.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Enjoying the feedback. Especially on your tips and tricks over the years.

How many of you swing as a searching approach to cover water vs swing into a specific lie?


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