Article by Jack Gartside: The Soft Hackle Streamer is one of my favorite small streamers for all species of fish, fresh water or salt. It may be tied in many colors and sizes to suit the occasion.

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Soft Hackle Streamer

The Soft Hackle Streamer is one of my favorite small streamers for all species of fish, fresh water or salt. It can be tied in many colors and sizes to suit the occasion.

Since I first designed this simple fly — now over 25 years ago — much has been written about it in various magazines and books. All too frequently, however, writers have given the wrong tying instructions and made difficult what is really a very simple fly to tie. And so I'm here to set the record straight. This is how the fly is tied, in its simplest and most elegant expression.

The instructions below are for a single-color Soft Hackle Streamer but you can tie this streamer in many color combinations, using several blood marabou feathers wound on together (for a blend) or separately to create a layered effect. Use your imagination. But remember, this is a very simple fly to tie. There are only a few tricks to be mastered and, once learned, the fly becomes even easier to tie. Happy Fishing.

Tying the Soft Hackle Streamer


M3406 (FW), 34007 (SW), sizes 6 - 2/0


Danville's 6/0, color to compliment overall color of streamer


Pearl Flashabou or Pearl GSS (Gartside's Secret Stuff)


Blood Marabou wound as hackle. (Marabou should be 2 to 3 times the length of the shank when wound on.) Color to vary.


Mallard flank feather wound on and folded as hackle just in front of the marabou. (Other feathers — such as teal, guinea, or pheasant may also be used to create different effects.)


Thread to compliment overall color of streamer

step 1

Step 1Attach thread approximately one eye-length back from the eye and wind thread approximately eight turns of thread to the rear. Tie in one or two strands of Flashabou or 5 or 6 strands of GSS at their middle and pull the forward strands back, securing them in position.

step 2

Step 2Select a blood marabou feather with fibers or barbs sufficiently long enough for the fly you want to tie. Strip fibers away from the thicker part of stem near base and cut stem at point at which it drastically tapers from thick to thin (see illustration).

step 3

Step 3Place feather on top of hook shank (concave side down and just in front of tinsel, tie the trimmed feather down at what is now its BUTT (not by the tip). Wind hackle forward around the hook shank, brushing the previous turn to the rear. You may make the hackle sparse or full, depending on your intentions. When wound on to your satisfaction, tie down feather and trim excess. (Comb or brush out any tied-down marabou fibers, if any.)

step 4

Step 4Select a mallard flank feather (or other suitable feather) with a relatively thin stem and fibers long enough to flow back over the marabou wing to approx. 1/2 to 2/3 its length. Strip fibers away from thicker part of stem and tie feather in at the point at which the stem noticeably narrows (see illustration).

step 5

Step 4Tie this feather in also NOT BY TIP but BY THE BUTT. Lay feather flat on top of marabou "wing" concave side down. Trim excess. Because the stem of the mallard flank feather is flat throughout most of its length, you must — before beginning to wind the feather — move the stem off to a right angle (away from you) so that when you wind the feather you are winding on the flat of the stem and not on its sides.

Having done this, wind and fold the feather so that its barbs flow smoothly over the marabou and do not stand out "spider-like" and willy-nilly from the shank. (You may find that you have to twist the feather slightly as you wind so that you continue to wind on the flat of the stem.). Several turns of mallard feather is usually sufficient to make an attractive collar. Trim off excess and form a neat, tapered head. Coat with cement when finished.


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