Golden Soft Hackle
By Bruce Schneck
This month we will look at a fly offered by John Robertson a very good fisherman and top fly tier of Schuylkill County Trout Unlimited.
One of the more prolific hatches we encounter often is the Blue Winged Olive. Cool, overcast and even drizzly days bring out the best of these flies. Such conditions have them struggling to dry their wings before taking flight, making them easy prey for hungry trout.
John has shared this pattern to get us on this hatch.
Golden Soft Hackle
Hook- standard wet fly sizes 16, 18 and 20
Thread: olive 8/0
Tail: Wood duck flank or substitute
Rib: fine gold wire
Abdomen: Golden pheasant tail fibers
Thorax: Arizona Peacock
Hackle: medium dun hen
This makes a very sharp looking fly that I plan to include in my assortment for the coming year. John recommends not using smaller than 4X tippet even though the flies are quite small. He tells me we should use a drift across and downstream to rising fish. Hang on, you will know it when a fish takes. John tells me using tippet smaller than 4X will lead to lots of flies torn off in fish’s mouth. Hardest strikes often occur when fly completes drift and starts rising to surface.
John first used this pattern on the South Holston River in Tennessee to imitate the prolific hatches he encounters there. He has had great success with it on the Pohopoco and Aquashicola when Blue Winged Olives are out and about. I often hit good conditions, lots of flies and hungry fish up-state on the Little Pine, Big Pine and Kettle Creeks should set the stage to give this fly a try. Looking forward to the savage strikes John tells me about. You can have the Blue-Bird weather and give me some cool. Cloudy and wet days for the olives. Even on some pretty days I have encountered good BWO activity in heavily shaded sections of some streams. Looking through my box of olive dubbing I see I have accumulated two dozen different blends. Some I might have only used one or two times and the fact the some compartments are almost empty shows the colors I prefer. Over 60 years of matching these flies have led me to try lots of different shades, some worked well and others did not produce at all. Fun trying anyways.
Very good idea when fishing BWO is to carry flies in an assortment of shades of olive. From one stream to another I find a drastic difference in body colors and the fish often are very picky as to what they prefer. At times I hit almost yellow olive bodies and at other times rust and real dark are the predominate shades.
John recommends using Arizona peacock dubbing which is very nice to work with but I believe real peacock would serve well also.