Most of you know me as a teaching guide. But fishing education is not just limited to time spent on the water. I received this question via email last week, and I thought it was such good one that I decided to share it here and expand on my answer. As always, no such thing as a dumb question!
Q: Do you usually grease your soft hackles to sink or do you just use a slow sink leader?
A: I don’t, and I do not.
Ixnay on the easegray.
Let’s start with the term “grease.” In wet fly fishing (or any fishing with mended swings) “grease” conjures up images of high-floating elements. Back in the day, a line was greased to make it float, therefore making it possible to mend. You can grease a fly, too, to help it float, and sometimes I do. Example: small stream fishing with a Stimulator. I’ll dust the hackles with silica powder, but I’ll use Gehrke’s Gink gel floatant on the elk hair wing.
But there are also gels that help stuff sink (like Gehrke’s Xink.) Here’s why I would never use something like that on a soft hackle: the last thing I want is to put any kind of coating on those precious, fine-stemmed barbules. I want them moving and quivering and creating the illusion that the fly is alive. What’s more, I mostly fish my soft hackles just beneath the surface film or perhaps a foot below; this is the place after all, where so many emergers get eaten. You do your best business on Main Street, right?
When it comes to lines, I only use floaters for wet fly fishing. My leaders (droppers) are constructed of Maxima. If I want to help sink the rig, I’ll use a brass or tungsten bead head fly on point. Mending — doable only with a floating line — helps introduce the slack required to let gravity do its thing. If I want to get the team deep for a nymph-like presentation along the bottom, I’ll attach a split shot to the leader just above the knot that forms the middle dropper. This will create a seat for the shot so it won’t slip down the leader. You can read more about the black arts of sinking your wet flies here.
Hope that helps, and thanks for the excellent question.
Sing it with me: “Get down, get down…”
Spot on for a cast of 2 or 3. Lots of flexibility there!
Also, I have found that Harvey style leaders work great for Flymphs near/in the film.
Please share with us what a Harvey style leader is!
Look up George Harvey Dry Fly Leader. Stiff Maxima Butt and Soft tippet end. Works great to eliminate drag for drys and when drifting Flymphs in the film. Not so swell for swinging wets but your recipe works spot on.
Thanks for the information!
Are your 3 Maxima pieces the same or different weights, and what are the weights you use?
Dagnabbit, I don’t have the Maxima specs on the diagram. Another project! It’s all the same size. I began with Maxima Chameleon 6#, but for several years now I’ve been very happy with Maxima Ultragreen 4#.
Thanks. I wondered, esp. since the diagram showed different colors.
Jeff, the different colors are my attempt to illustrate that the tags are formed by single pieces of Maxima. 🙂
Steve, I recognize that, but wondered if they were also different diameters. Thanks
Great, as long as we’re all on the same page. 🙂