Soft-Hackled Flatwings, Ready to Swim

Fresh off the vise and ready to be eaten. Grey dun/fluorescent yellow, pink/chartreuse/olive, and white/blue/mallard flank. Of course, endless color variations are possible. Sparse, yet full. These are all three-and-one-half inches long.

SH FW Hybrids

Here’s the basic template:

Hook: Eagle Claw 253 1/0
Thread: 6/0
Platform: 30 bucktail hairs
Tail: Flatwing saddle to match platform color, under 2-4 strands flashabou
Body: Braid
Wing: 30-45 bucktail hairs, under 10-20 hairs contrasting color, under 2-4 strands Krystal Flash or flashabou
Collar: Blood quill marabou, tied in at tip, 3-4 turns; 1 turn mallard flank (optional)
This is one of my favorite patterns for early season stripers.

9 comments on “Soft-Hackled Flatwings, Ready to Swim

  1. RMLytle says:

    Nice ties! When are you going to start fishing them?

  2. tidewaterfly says:

    Steve, great looking flies as always! It appears you’re tying in “bright” colors. Is that intentional for the early season or do you also tie them in darker colors for this time of year? Reason I ask, I usually tie in both bright & dark colors, but have never really found a correlation with time of season as to what works best, at least not in the waters I fish. Your insight please!

    • Steve Culton says:

      Thanks for the comments. These flies would probably work in just about any color template. Some of them aren’t all that bright — for example, the grey/flourescent yellow has more grey than yellow in it (the photo just makes the yellow pop, which is kind of the point of that color combo). That color template is taken from Ken Abrames’ RLS Easterly bucktail, and I like it on grey days, especially with an east wind, if for nothing other than romantic reasons. I have yet to meet the striper that doesn’t like pink/chartruese/olive combination. Almost all white is a classic plug color; I just gave the white a little contrast with the blue, and using a variegated feather as a soft-hackle is probably almost as old as fly tying. I’ll likely be fishing these flies in sunlight and at dusk, but I wouldn’t hesitate to fish any of them at night. Have you ever used a black fly in the day time? “Black flies at night” is the colloquial wisdom, but last year I caught a bunch of stripers on a black fly mid-afternoon. Color in fly tying and fly fishing is one of those things where it’s hard to nail down any absolutes. I know there are studies about color absorption and water depth, but I catch most of my bass within 0-6 feet from the surface. Mostly, I like to play with color because it’s fun. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • tidewaterfly says:

        Well, then you & I are entirely on the same page with this! Yes, I have caught many fish on black colored flies & at all times of the day & night & light conditions. I’ve caught plenty on the tried & true chartreuse & white or all white at night too! The waters I fish most often have a tannic stain to them, are generally shallow, under 10 feet deep and I primarily choose colors based on available light, but as you say there are no absolutes & do also very much enjoy playing with the colors, simply because it’s fun!

        Thanks for the reply! Good stuff!

  3. Ron says:

    Steve, could you do a video for these flies? Take about were you purchase some of thes flat wing materials. Also discuss equipment used. Thanks Ron

  4. Steve Culton says:

    Hi Ron,

    I’ll see what I can do. I’m currently having some video camera issues. As far as flat wing materials (saddles) go, that ship sailed long ago. Not to despair. For smaller, single-feather flat wing flies like these, you have options. For example, I took the saddle used in the grey/yellow flies from a Whiting Bugger Pack. There will be feather options in those cheap Chinese strung hackle packs, too. You’re looking for a tapered feather with a decent amount of web. Best of all, if you’re going to make these flies 3-4″ long, you don’t need a long saddle. Hope that helps.

    Oh — what did you mean by “Discuss equipment used”?

    • Ron Bucari says:

      Thanks Steve Equipment : rods , lenght/wight for shore fishing not boat. Also I see you are using Regal vise any reasons? Over Renzetti master vise. Thanks Ron

      Sent from my iPhone


  5. Steve Culton says:

    Hi Ron,

    I basically use two rods for stripers from the shore. One is a 9′ TiCr 5 weight that I fish with a 9 weight Rio Outbound floating line. The other is a switch rod, the Ken Abrames Salmo Saxitilis. The Salmo Sax isn’t any “weight”; rather, it is designed for a range of grain weight lines. I use it both two- and single-handed, with floating, floating with various lengths of T-11 sink tip, and full integrated sink lines. The grain weights on those lines varies from about 350 grains to 510 grains. (Btw, the Salmo Sax is an utterly spectacular steelhead rod.)

    RE the Regal vise: I’m not an equipment junkie, and I like the Regal’s simplicity. (To give you some perspective, my previous vise was a Universal No. 2 that I’ve owned since the 1970s. An incredibly simple rotary vise.) I also like that Regal is a New England-based family business. I don’t think I ever considered the Renzetti, which looks like a beautiful vise, for any other reason than they didn’t have it at the shop.

    Like Harry Potter’s wand, vises (and rods) tend to choose their owner.

    Hope that helps, and thanks for the questions.


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