Thursday, February 10, 2011

Another Tribute to THE Soft-Hackle Master

I have just heard that the another great soft-hackle master, Sylvester Nemes, passed away in Bozeman. I use another because Jack Gartside passed away in 2009 and I posted my tribute. I haven't met either Mr. Jack or Mr. Syl, but they are admired and respected among soft-hackle enthusiasts. These two of his books mean both bible and dictionary for soft-hackle enthusiasts. Especially "Two Centuries......" is a must read for any fly-fishermen as the history of flies and fly-fishing, I believe.

Like Mr. Jack, Mr. Syl loved to fish Madison in the Park with his soft-hackles. In his book "The Soft-Hackled....." he describes Barn Pool #1 and #2 in 1970s, which pretty much remains the same now. Yes, both pools are good and crowded and most of anglers tend to overlook and pass the section above called "Cable Car Run". I love to swing soft-hackles in the fall through this section.

Then he mentions "most of fishermen on Barnhole Number 1 never fish enough of it". That's right, most of anglers just repeat the famous pool only as they are informed but the broad riffle below the pool is usually ignored, while it's a drooling run & riffle for soft-hackle addict like me. Last November, it was a warm sunny day and people stuck around at Pool #1 even after 5pm. Even Cable Car was occupied. But I recalled Mr. Syl's words and indeed nobody cared the riffle below. Believing his words I swung my soft-hackles. At the last light, the last trout for 2010 was hooked on my "Coyote".

Now here are my ties of Mr. Syl's patterns. Put it simply they are classic. And soft-hackle patterns have got something soft in our hearts. The most well-known is Syl's Midge.

This one has no picture in his book. I tied based just on the material list. It's the baetis soft-hackle named "Starling & Olive". I like his detailed instruction about wrapping the hackle; "hackle: Starling, three or four wraps. Include at least one or two wraps of the dull, base side of the hackle." Base side fibers are webby which add a nice little taste on the finished fly.

Also, baetis soft-hackle named "Starling & Pheasant".

This is one of the traditional patterns reviewed in "Two Centuries...." called Tups Indispensible. I like the combination of Gossamer silk and an touch of pink blended in a traditional soft-hackle silhouette.

And this simple one is my favorite and go-to arsenal. "Peacock Herl & Yellow Larva Style". It might look just a nymph pattern fished with an indicator and split-shots but indeed a soft-hackle.

It's been working for me when I see midges in the air but no obvious rises instead trout are feeding on something without breaking the surface, not to mention at riffly section. One of such spots are lower end of Armstrong Spring Creek. As Cable Car Run in Madison, most of anglers tend to overlook this run toward the border of Depuy's. See my tiny soft-hackle is hooked right at the corner of the mouth, the "happy-to-see" spot when swinging soft-hackles.

Mr. Syl's legacy should be continued not only by soft-hackle enthusiasts but also every fly-fishermen.

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