Monday, March 19, 2018

Season Opener Hendrickson Soft Hackle

 At left, my Hendrickson soft hackle -- the floater -- that is my new opening day fly.

Tied on a TMC 103BL in size 13 this is my new indicator soft hackle which, when soaked, strongly resembles a Hendrickson.

We'll cover it in a little. I like tying it better than the Bocher's Special I used for the floater last year. This fellow is faster out of the vise.
This beastie at left is the Hendrickson soft hackle flymph. I cleaned this one up a little from the flies I used last year. Size 15 wide gap TMC103BL.

Frankly, I'm not sure the trout cared what was in the water column on opener last year as long as it behaved properly: it bobbed up and down in the top third of the stream.

Normal flymph. Thread body. Lightly dubbed aft in a neutral tone. Darkly wrapped forward with herl. The bi-color seems to be the trick. The nymphs are sort of bi-colored.

So, what do I have here? In the top third of the water column, there is the flymph.

On the surface film, there is the floater. The hen dun feather does everything I like in a Jingler without the bother of two hackles to tie-in. Now, the Jingler is a much more elegant fly that is pure joy to tie on the end of the leader. But, this floaty Hendrickson is an indicator because ... opener.

We can be slow on detecting the take right out of the box. Throw in a little extra excitement and we all can have a rough afternoon.

The indicator fly takes us back to school. (Hopefully without forth period latin.)

The floater: illustrated.

Tie-in aft at about the barb if the hook had one. Walk the thread fore and aft.

Tie in a pheasant hen (softer than the cock feather) tail , wrap as if a PTN.

Onto that, bind a small piece of foam cut to the width of the hook. Take care to bind the foam onto the top of the hook. Notice the foam stops about where we'd tie-in the hackle.

Create a nice tapered dubbed body to cover the foam. You can leave a little foam at the top of the pheasant hen right aft of the dubbing. It isn't for the fish. It reminds you this is the "floaty" version of the fly as you dig through your box.

Tie in two-turns of a dun hen feather right forward of the body, then collar with a bit of a darker dubbed material.

Watch the eye.

And here he is groomed on a cork for the photo. He'll float all day long on a dry dropper with his cousin the flymph.

I worked this guy in the last half of the year when I'd tie a trio of indicator flies at my campsite after breakfast. It's sort of Adams-ish. Just a floater.

Seems to work.

Base mixed dubbing. SLF Ginger. SLF Root Beer, SLF Dark Claret. Awesome Possum Australian possum in natural.

Add more claret for the collar dubbing noodle.

Otherwise, this has a "splotchy" lifelike appeal when spun. It's a little washed out in the picture.

See the flies above for a better portrayal.

I wish I tied nicer, cleaner flies. I don't. I tie decent thread bodied flies but I go for the buggy set on anything else. I've got Robert Smith's book here open in front of me at the desk. I look at his delicate and precise representations. Then, I ball some fur on a hook.

I'm fortunate that the trout seem to go along with it. They're good sports that way.

A prepared English Grouse feather for a amber-and-grouse thread bodied fly.  Seems to do fine, too. Not bi-colored. Not specifically pattered after nymphs I've researched.

Still catches plenty of fish. Looks a lot like a Hendrickson when stuck on the surface film.

I'm at the bench tying for opener. I'm feeding breakfast on the Black River. I'm looking forward to forty-six degrees, a light drizzle, and heavy overcast that lasts all weekend long.

I'm camping in my new outfitter's tent (as soon as I learn to set it up ...snow still melting in my front garden where I do my tent practice).  I've replaced my tippet.

Come on, spring! Just over thirty days until season.



  1. Spike both patterns look good. I agree that multiple colored flies have an advantage.
    Your dubbing does have a lovely sparkle to it, and it's quite buggy looking.
    Is the thread silk?

  2. Allan:
    Pearsall's in amber. Im rationing my primrose, orange, and purple for thread-bodies traditionals. The amber when waxed has a nice "rusted nymph" color when wet.

  3. well done spike, I have to admit I've never thought of adding sponge to the body, nice idea

  4. I'm sure there are folks who regard this action as akin to fishing the San Juan worm; but, it works. Keeps the floatant in the bag.

    Could be worse. Could be a "mop fly."