Small soft hackle presentation in stillwater

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by jwg, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. My question here is how to present small soft hackles, such as black, or perhaps red and black, in still water, during midge hatches.

    I fish large soft hackles like the six pack in still water just fine. But I lack confidence on how to present the small ones.

    Last week, I tried a small soft hackle as a dropper to a floating emerger, casting to sighted fish. No love to a static presentation, one take on a hand twist retrieve.

    I am thinking subsurface or in the film presentations when the fish are feeding on small things in the top foot of water.

    any suggestions?

  2. I like to fish similar small black soft-hackles on lakes when I see trout eating midge emergers. It seems to be really tough fishing at times when the surface is as smooth a glass, though. Then I think you might need to twitch it or do the slow hand-twist retrieve.
    I seem to have better luck on the windier side of the lake where the small wind chop lets the trout feel less spooky, and also provides some movement to the fly.
    I make 40'+ casts when lake fishing, so that the trout can't spot me flailing away.

    It would probably be better to use tippet that will sink, not float. I am using florocarbon for my subsurface fishing. I am going to start using it with soft-hackle emergers.
  3. Chironomids attach to the surface film in a "U" - HEAD UP - TAIL UP-BODY DOWN. tying a pattern with a scud hook and a little added float at head and tail will make the hook lay upside down like the insect is attached to surface from underneath trying to brake out of it's shuck and brake through the surface! they are very still and eatable at this stage and trout will key in on these "attached to film emergers" although I have not had to go to these extremes yet, I do tie all my soft hackles on scud hooks for a few reasons! stronger hooks and fishing for only the biggest boils so as not to spook big fish by hooking small fish. when I see a pod I will stay away and watch for a larger fish to target, If I don't see one after a little bit then I will just try for any fish. the other reason is the U shape of midges at rest.

    I myself have seen very few truly black midge hatches on the lakes I fish in Oregon - mostly they are light grey, or tan, or tan and brown. I did get in one hatch last spring that was black out of some 35 days fishing last spring and figure it was to small a hatch for me to target and hooked plenty on a larger black mini bugger. although my black soft hackles are also tied with scud hooks.

    A lot of good info in the other thread about sippers that pertain to the same issues! my favorite thing to do is cast ahead so the fly sinks and when I think the fish get close to the soft hackle I do fast small strips making the fly rise and stop! slow and I mean really slow pulls work also but most insects like midges and mayflies swim "up" straight to the surface and once there emerge not doing much side swimming or movement. here's a video on midges and if you listen the guy talks about the upside down "U" of midges in the film and the fisherman that do not imitate it! I've posted this a few times because I LIKE IT!

    YouTube - Midges: Chapter 5 of the "Bugs of the Underworld" DVD

    Here's another one about spiders ;-)~

    YouTube - Spiders On Drugs
    ribka, Greg Holt, cwlinkem and 4 others like this.
  4. There are times, later in the season, when trout prefer long-horned, caddis during certain time periods and conditions. When this occurs an EHC (bullet head design preference) with a small soft hackle (grouse or starling with ribbed hares ear) dropper can be productive. Think of those times when there are no more c-mids, may flies, occasional damsel, occasional dragon, etc.
  5. I tie a small gray (tying thread only) softie in a #14, #16 and #18' on heavy scud hooks, 1.5 mm black bead with a black wire rib ( I want it to brake surface film) and partridge hackle, seems to work for any color midge. Cast in front of moving fish, strip very, very slow and hold on.....
    triploidjunkie likes this.
  6. Some other possibilities on presenting small soft hackles on lakes when surface/near surface feeding is indicated:

    Stuff that has worked for me:
    If observation indicates fish are pursuing moving targets, try a very long, very fine leader on a long cast across the breeze so as to form a bow in your line when it settles--manage that bow with only enough tension to maintain a slack-less connection with the fly--actually trying NOT to move the fly (it will still move a bit, which is what you want). Arrange the wind drift or movement of your "vessel" so that the fly cuts across the path of suspects, even if that results in you going in circles! During the periods when the fly doesn't feel "in the zone", simply let it sink--when you begin to draw it towards the surface, it will attract attention. The reason circles work is that feeding fish often stay in a confined area--why wouldn't you?

    If observation indicates fish taking advantage of stationary targets (as noted in previous posts), use even less movement in order to maintain minumum tension in the line/leader/tippet. for this approach I'll use CDC for hackling rather than partridge, as it moves at the slightest pressure from you or the elements. Here's one place a floating poly leader with a long tippet will serve you well.

    In both above situations, takes are often nothing more than the realization that the line is no longer coming towards you.

    Often, going smaller than the observed life forms is a good tactic--I've gone as small as size 24 when the real bugs were 16's, and managed well enough, but when attempting to match the size perfectly, got less love.

    Try to determine if the fish are feeding "on the bottom of the mirror" or several inches down from there--patience and a decent pair of binoculars help too.

    A final thought about movement--I tend to minimize sudden movements of the soft hackle fly (aka "twitching")--in nature, things that move get eaten true enough, but most relatively helpless prey have stayed alive long enough to reproduce by not drawing attention to themselves...
    Mark Kraniger likes this.
  7. Great information, Mark. As soon as I get near a decent internet connection, I intend to view the videos you provided here, then attempt some sort of of U shaped emerger to hang on the underside of the meniscus. Thanks for the education!!
    Mark Kraniger likes this.
  8. Amazing, and I think definitive, information on chironomid emergence. And non-emergence (can't say how many times I've heard folks commenting on the egg-layers buzzing around the surface as "there's a hatch").

    Not sure how to best imitate the "U" feature, though would note that both the Shipman Emerger and Lasha Raccoon have done very, very well for us when the fish are boiling or taking subtly right at the surface (maybe a bubble, maybe not). Would comment that the time taken to pop through the film (using the "U" lever) was roughly equal to the time taken for the last foot or so of ascent, and given that their route is predictable, very accessible morsels. Would also comment that, under many circumstances,the time on the surface, drying wings, etc., is as long or longer than the hang time below the film. Lesson to me is that the trout's focus may vary; as must the pattern and presentation.
    bakerite, Jeff Dodd and Mark Kraniger like this.
  9. was it me, but it in the video i think there were as many c-mids laying flat at the surface as there was U shaped ?
    could not miss the wiggle undulation motion though of the bugs rising to the surface. so Not a bad idea to let the waves impart that up and down motion to the fly. seems an indicator would add this.
    Jeff Dodd likes this.
  10. Sky, this is why almost any indicator fisherman would call this the perfect "CHIRONOMID CHOP"

    boise la grande trip 090.jpg

    I GET REAL ATTENTIVE TO MY INDI WHEN THE LAKE LOOKS LIKE THIS = Don't even try and talk to me when the water looks like this, I won't answer ;-)
    triploidjunkie likes this.
  11. Mark, I am with you there. that looks like the perfect ripple wave.
    I get a little buggy when its flat still. I always think i should be doing something different.
    Mark Kraniger likes this.
  12. Soft hackles were the ticket yesterday. I tried just about everything, with few strikes. I finally got into fish by tossing soft hackles straight into the boils. They would ignore dries, but slam the little softie.
  13. Cast into the boils and then what?
    floating in surface film?
    left idle?
    all of the above?
  14. Usually if not grabbed right away, two or three short(2-3inches) strips would do it.
  15. Thanks!

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