“What are the best soft hackles (or wet flies) for fishing the Hendrickson hatch?” is one of those questions I get a lot this time of year. As always, the best flies are the ones in which you have the most confidence. I should also make this clarification: technically, with Hendricksons you’re fishing wet flies under the hatch. On the Farmington River, prime time for swinging Hendrickson wets is generally in the 11 am-to-3 pm window. Every day is different. Once you see duns on the water, and trout snapping at them, the wet fly game is all but over. But if you want to catch more trout, you should be swinging wets in this pre-hatch time frame. (Of course, you’re fishing a team of three wets. Here’s how to build a wet fly leader.) And so, in no particular order, these are some of my favorite Hendrickson wet fly and soft-hackled patterns.
It’s getting to be that time of year when we can think about not dredging the bottom and start fishing in the upper reaches of the water column. We’re talking wet flies for this Currentseams Tuesday Night Zoom, and I’ll be telling you about the materials and hooks I use to tie these simple, traditional, and devastatingly effective flies. Bonus: I’ll throw in a tying demo. If you haven’t been getting the Zoom links — I send them out Tuesday late afternoon — please check your spam box. If you’re sending a request to get on the list, please don’t wait until 7:45 p.m. Tuesday night…I won’t be checking my email that late. Thanks!
When I give a wet fly lesson, I always tell my clients this: “If you hit a hatch just right, you can have one of those days you’ll never forget.” And it so it was for me on a cool afternoon in April. Hendrickson season can be tough on the Farmington, especially if you’re looking for an unoccupied mark. But sometimes luck smiles upon you, and on this day it was so. The run I wanted to fish was on lockdown, but just as I arrived, an angler left, leaving a prime lie open. Armed with a three fly team of wets, I proceeded to wreak havoc upon the residents. This was one of those days where I quickly lost count of fish, but it was easily in the multiple dozens range. (Fresh fish + epic Hendrickson hatch + wet flies = stupid good.) I had doubles galore. I finally quit because it was so ridiculous for so long. Really. You can read about it here.
I had several evenings of spectacular wet fly action during the sulphur hatches of 2020, but nothing that equaled the craziness of this day of Hendrickson mania! If the water is 450cfs+, or if you want to sink your team a little more, try this tungsten bead head Dark Hendrickson soft hackle on point.
Much to do today, and in between projects and responsibilities I’m trying to make a dent in my 800 Followers contest winner swag. Here’s a Hackled March Brown in progress.
As you can see, my tying bench trends toward messy. There’s something mad scientist/struggling artist that I like about materials and tools scattered everywhere…
Many thanks to the HFFA for hosting me last night. The pre-game meal was both delicious and appreciated (see Culton’s Rule of Presentation, AKA “A fed presenter is a happy presenter.”) I hadn’t given the “Wet Flies 101” program in some time, so it was nice to return to an old friend. Speaking of old friends, there were many familiar faces in the audience, which is always gratifying. Thanks to everyone who took the time to come out, share their experiences, and ask so many good questions.
Winged wets like these have been fooling trout for hundreds of years, and the fish aren’t getting any smarter.
I have two more appearances in December — more on those soon.
I love tying flies, but teaching others how to tie runs a close second. I am fortunate enough to be able to do it at a number of area fly shops. Today’s was at River & Riptide in Coventry, RI. Great group of guys, all eager students. It’s amazing watching the transformation that happens in someone’s tying in just a few hours. Our focus today was on wet flies. We covered basic soft-hackles, wingless wets, winged wets, and fuzzy nymphs. Thanks to R&R for letting me teach, and thanks to everyone who made the afternoon so enjoyable.
Drowned Ant Soft-Hackle
I’ll be doing the same class tomorrow at UpCountry Sportfishing in New Hartford, CT.