Soft Hackle Spinner
By Shane Stalcut


Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

Once the mayfly transforms from adult to spinner, a new set of options arise for the tier. Unlike the adult's upright wings, the spinner's wings lie spent from the sides of the thorax. Another feature that distinguishes the spinner from the adult is the length of the tail. The spinner's tails are one and a half to two times the length of the body. The legs on some species are also frequently longer in length. The tier should take notice of these characteristics.

Generally, we don't think of hackles when we think of spinners. As noted, the length of the legs can greatly increase and we leave a definite imprint on the water's surface. Since legs are such a prominent feature, why have we left out the hackle for so many years? We want the imitation to ride flush on the surface and the hackle, if conventionally wrapped, would raise the fly off of the surface. But if you use soft hackle, the fibers will flatten out when they get wet and add some movement to the fly. The tier could also use a figure-eight to bring the fibers from the bottom of the fly to the top, like the Compara may, where they can be neatly trimmed.

Using soft hackle for legs works great in conjunction with a soft-hackle wing. The wings are tied in, the hackle wrapped with a few turns, and then a shellback can be pulled over the top to hold down the wings and leg fibers. The shellback makes your flies stand out from the crowd. The soft hackle also helps in the flotation of the fly. It's been said several times now but I will say it again, the fibers help tpo redistribute the weight of the fly and leave an imprint on the water's surface. This imprint is perfect for Blue-Winged Olives, Pale Morning Duns, Callibaetis and just about any other spinner.

An alternative to hen hackle for the wings is Zing Wing, which was popularized by John Betts. This wing is clear like the natural's and because it is so thin and non-rigid, it will not twist your leader, most of the time.

Materials for the Soft Hackle Spinner:

    Hook: Targus 101 or equivalent, size 14 - 24.

    Thread: Match color of the body.

    Tail: Mayfly tails.

    Body: Hareline's Premo goose biots.

    Shellback: Medallion sheeting.

    Wing: Hen neck.

    Thorax: Micro dry-fly dubbing.

    Hackle: Hen neck.

1. Tie in three or four mayfly tail fibers so that they extend out at least 1 1/2 times the length of the body. To separate them, take a turn of thread around the underside of the tail so that it lifts them up a little bit.

2. Tie in a biot by the tip so that the notch is facing backwards. Wrap it forward. You should be about 1/3 the way back from the hook eye. Tie in the sheeting for the wing case.

3. Tie in the hckle and then the winds. Figure-eight through the wings so that they lay spent.

4. Figure-eight some dubbing around the wing and thorax area.)

5. Wrap the hackle forward with one turn behind the wind and two turns in front of the wing. Cut the hackle flat on top of the fly and then pull the wing case over the top and tie down and off.

6. Pull the hackle fibers to the sides so that there is none on the bottom. If there are fibers sticking out the bottom, trim them off.

Top view. ~ SS

Credit: The Soft Hackle Spinner is one of the many terrific mayfly patterns in Mayflies "Top To Bottom" published by Frank Amato Publications.

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.


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