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The Simplicity of a soft hackle


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Ronan's report

Tuesday 6th April, 2010

No question doubt that soft hackles or spider, there is a difference by hold a very intrinsic value so far as fish catching flies of great worth. As we all know historically or so we are led to believe the origin of such flies evolved in the North Country of England, all be it l do not buy that this is absolute fact for this reason.

Often as not back in those times literature was not generally available which was the main means of communication other than fly fishers happening to meet on waters other than those they would normally fish. In this case it would have been very possible that experiences and different patterns of fly were exchanged, which is still the case today. It was also the case back then that not all who did fish were able to write, those that were able to write and have works published by and large were of course those that are to day celebrated as those who largely pioneered both fly fishing technique and the innovation of new fly patterns, with all due respect this may not have been the case, we shall never know. There is no fly fisher to day who has not benefited from what others have done before, all be it some have been responsible for furthering technique and very productive fly patterns. Not forgetting the equipment that we are now able to use, be it rods, reels, lines, tippet material, fly tying products, clothing, and all the other gadgets associated with fly fishing, many of which in my opinion are of limited use, all be it they support the industry financially. You do not have to decked out with $3000 worth of shit to be a fly fisher, ask Paul, its down to the rod, reel line, mono and flies at the end of the day, most of that can be brought for under $300 at the end of the day. This doe's amount to another story.

We also have to consider that back in those days there were few who tied flies commercially, we do not of course know how many who fly fished produced their own flies, certainly the House of Hardy illustrated for sale many of the fly patterns of worth in the late 1800s. Much had taken place way before that in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Then again many who fished in the past did so for food and in some cases for commercial reasons, they were as a rule not purist fly fishers, if it was a worm that was needed so be it, along with many other natural or artificial baits. Today of course we see a very different attitude toward the Salmonid species as well as many other fish species . Issues both of conservation, regulations and the leaning toward catch and release by personal choice have changed the world of fly fishing for the better.

Back to the main theme here.

It goes' without saying that someone had to be the first to figure out that a hackle could be wound around a hook shank, who so ever that was again we will never know, likewise the use of feather wing material to imitate a flies wings. Bear in mind also that geographic location would have been very relevant so far as what materials were generally available for the fly tyer in the past. Check this one out.

Assume you are not able in any way to buy fly tying material. Given the location that you now live. Exclude the fact that many of the birds or animals are now protected, which they were not in the past. Make a list of the birds and animals that you could obtain to make flies with. Also bear in mind there were no motor cars so road kills were also out of the question. May be the local butcher had game available during the hunting season, in those days birds had feather, rabbit and hare hide. You may not have owned a gun, but my have connections with a gamekeeper friend or someone who hunted for meat or fur and you were able to obtain material. Both thread and wool yarn would have been available at that time as this was of course a used by the woman of the house. You had of course no choice to obtain hooks.

OK, made a list. Now do it again and eliminate all items you have listed that are now not legal either to harvest or to possess. Here again obtaining material from any other source other than your regional location. You will find a very limited number of materials available to you. The odds are you will end up with various animal furs and some feather material, if you are lucky maybe some obtained from game birds, partridge, grouse, quail. wildfowl. On the other hand you may be in a location that very few legal feather materials are available to you, other than say poultry, and maybe some vermin of the Corvid family, here in the US that amounts only to Crows.

What does this mainly amount to at the end of the day, you will have material that is more so ideally suited for tying soft hackles and spiders, nymphs and dry fly patterns. However the point of my FP this week is related to the simplicity and intrinsic value of the soft hackle. So in this case l offer the rezoning why soft hackle and spider patterns were the choice of many, due to the limited availability of fly tying material. Why would such birds as Wrens, Blue tits, Owls, Woodpecker and many others chosen, simply for the reason that they were localized available species.

In my own location l would have available if l were able to shoot or trap. No guarantee of that in any hunting season. Deer, Otter, fox,coyote, bear, bobcat ,weasel ,badger, mink, skunk, raccoon, possum, beaver, musk rat, mole, mice, wood rats, squirrel, rabbit. All of which are primarily fly body material some of which have other uses.

In the case of feather material. Legal to hunt Crow, quail, ducks, geese, wild turkey, doves, starlings, rails ----- captive raised, pheasant, partridge, chickens, turkey, peacock . For feather, bear in mind l would have to buy many of these live species. If l were not able to do that then the feather available would be very limited legally. Crow, quail, Duck, turkey, goose, that is if l were able to harvest any during the season.

I live in a very rural State, if l lived in a city, then good luck.

Something to think about !!! how lucky we are today.

Tight lines all.


Pic Of Day

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