Hare's Ear Soft Hackle

Hare's Ear Soft Hackle

Lately there has been a lot of discussion and writing about tying and fishing soft hackle flies. This is a fly every angler should carry and know how to

  • By: A. K. Best
Lately there has been a lot of discussion and writing about tying and fishing soft hackle flies. This is a fly every angler should carry and know how to tie. My favorite is the Hare's Ear Soft Hackle because it's easy to tie and imitates a host of emerging or drowned insects. Although a tier can vary the body and hackle color to suit their needs, I haven't found it necessary to carry a whole box of color variations for this basic weighted pattern. They can be tied with tails or without. Again, I haven't found single version to be more or less effective. The biggest controversy seems to be about how the fly should be hackled and what to use. I say, again, it really doesn't matter as long as you achieve the desired result, which is catching fish.

Hook: Your favorite dryfly hook, sizes 18 through 12
Weight: Lead-substitute wire. Diameter to equal hook shank diameter.
Thread: Danville's Red, 6/0 or 8/0 (I use red for weighted flies and black for unweighted).
Rib: 28- or 32-gauge brass wire
Body: Thin, but slightly tapered, hare's mask dubbing
Hackle: Mottled brown hen neck or back feather. Cocque de Leon hen backs make beautiful hackle collars when dyed to a light brown or olive. The natural shade is gray.

1) Attach lead-substitute wire at mid shank and wind to within two hook-eye spaces behind the eye. Attach tying thread in front of the lead wraps, wind back and forth twice to secure lead wraps and apply a liberal amount of head lacquer to this assembly.

2) Firmly tie in a length of brass wire on your side of the hook immediately behind the lead wraps. Very firmly dub a small amount of hare's mask dubbing to the thread to create a small-diameter bump to the rear of the body. Keep adding dubbing to create a slightly tapered dubbing rope.

3) Carefully wind dubbing rope forward and stop immediately on top of the last turn of lead wraps behind the hook eye. This is to create a shoulder immediately behind the hackle collar.

4) Reverse-wrap the brass wire forward in evenly spaced turns and tie off on the bottom immediately in front of the lead wraps. Select a hackle feather whose fibers will not extend beyond the hook point. I use my dryfly hackle gauge for this. Strip off all the marabou-like fibers from the butt and all the fibers from the side of the feather that will be touching the hook. Tie the feather on by its butt immediately in front of the shoulder of the fly.

5) Wind forward the hackle feather for two turns, stroking the fibers to the rear after each wrap. Tie off the tip, trim, whip finish, and apply a drop of head lacquer.