There are so many things that I love about fishing “softies.” Not only is the technique flat out productive 365 days of the year, this method teaches you how to read the currents of the river as you observe your line to know where your fly is. For me, the next best thing to a big brown sipping your dry fly is to have one SLAM into a softie on the swing!

I use a 10’ leader tapered to 4x or sometimes 5x. You want to start at the head of a run, and slowly work your way down river. Present your fly by casting a quarter downstream. You can fish different depths by casting across the current or by adding a little weight. Often the best depth is very shallow. Presented in this manner these patterns represent insects which are struggling just below the surface. The soft, wet, flowing hackle simulates the activity of thrashing legs and beating wings.

Once the line is on the water, just let the current swing it across and downstream. Follow the line with the rod tip as it moves downstream. When your line is below you, I love to strip it in just like a streamer. Experiment with different stripping speeds and once you find what they like, hold on! Strikes can come at any time so be ready! I once had a big brown nearly rip my rod right out of my hands as he grabbed my fly! You don’t need to set the hook like in nymphing, as the line is under tension from the current. When a fish strikes, simply lift the rod.

The flies are simple to tie as well. The most effective patterns are simply a thin silk, thread, or dubbed body with oversized hackle wrapped sparsely around the collar. I use Partridge, starling feathers, blue dun or grizzly hackle on most of my patterns. Some of my favorites are Partridge and yellow, Partridge and orange, Partridge and peacock, BWO swinger, and the soft hackle hare’s ear.

The theory of color attraction is an important part of all fly fishing techniques. A general rule of thumb is to fish dark patterns on overcast days and light patterns on sunny days, but these flies are so versatile that sometimes rules don’t apply! I hope this information will help you enjoy fishing “Softies” as much as I do. Fish on!