Partridge & Miscellaneous Feathers!
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I you haven't heard of soft hackle wets, then you're not only missing some fun tying, but you're also missing lots of strikes . . . and that means you're missing the opportunity to land lots more fish!
The 'collar' on this fly is made by 'palmering' a partridge feather around the hook in front of the thorax. When wet, these hackles look like emerging legs to a fish. Why is this important?
Well, we fish dries on the top and nymphs on or near the bottom . . . so the 'emerging' fly, one that is transforming from a nymph into a dry, can be fished in all that area between the two. In other words, emergers can be fish in the space on the water 'between' the top and the bottom. That covers about 99% of the area where fish feed!
I focus on the partridge wets, as one of my favorite patterns, because it catches fish and is just so darn easy to tie. In the above fly, even the tail is tied with a few barbules from the the partridge feather.
The cool thing about this type of emerger, is that less is more. I mean it. These flies are usually sparcely dressed. Experience proves that the thinly dressed fly is often the most effective. In the fly above, it's overdressed for illustration, but the fly at the right is more indicative of a fly I'd be most likely to use.
You can purchase the 'back' or 'neck' feathers in packages of about 25-50 per package. Start with the natural, gray, brown or bleached feathers. We sell eight different colors from which to choose. If tying smaller flies, say size 16 and up, our English Partridge is the way to go.
Also, we have a supplier of the finest partridge whole skins available. In fact, one of the finest soft hackle fly tyers in the country, Dick Walle, assisted me in obtaining them for our customers. They're not cheap at around $25 each, but you'll get many hundreds of soft hackle flies tied from these, plus other feathers that will be useful to you. Ours our 'hand selected' Hungarian skins and they're the best available in the world.
I just want to mention that 'grouse' can be used in the same fashion as partridge.
Ostrich is as versatile as peacock, but without the lustre. You'll use the 'herl,' or long strands that come off of the plume for nymph bodies. It's a terrific soft, buggy material that is easy to use. It dyes nicely, which means the colors are excellent. These are one of our most popular materials, too. Once you try it, you'll be glad to have some on your fly tying table.
This is a terrific soft hackle feather with vivid coloration. We sell 'hand selected' #1 whole skins from Nature's Spirit. Once again, they're the best ones on the market!