Soft Hackle Brassie


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Another effective pattern from Paul DiNolo


Peter's note: My friend Paul DiNolo had been giving me reports all fall and right on through December on how productive the Soft Hackle Brassie had been for him and others in the kettle ponds of southeast Massachusetts.  I asked him to send me a few samples (pictures below) and he was happy to write a story to go along with the samples.

Also, read the article Paul wrote about his favorite Chironomid Patterns, also effective for trout in ponds and lakes.


Prior to the last two seasons, most of my successful soft hackle fly use came in the mountain ponds of northern New England. All of these ponds hosted a substantial population of caddisflies, and the soft hackle patterns did a very good job of imitating the emerging caddis. In the last two seasons I started to catch the trout in our local kettle ponds of southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod during the fall midge hatch.

This year, we didn't have the same level of midge induced feeding activity, and our reliable adult midge patterns were not producing as they had in past seasons. Eventually, out of frustration, we tried some of our soft hackle patterns, and did much better than we might have expected.

Soon all of our usual fishing crew started having the same results.  Yet, while the patterns we were using were certainly producing good results, they did not seem to be imitative of the midge pupa or emergers that we have observed during the many years that we have been fishing the Chironomid hatch (midges).

The final innovation was the substitution for the traditional floss or dubbed bodies with soft anodized copper wire of various colors. We noticed that the most productive of these reminded us of a “Brassie” that had a soft hackle. In any event, they did work, and it's hard to argue with success. The slight increase in density helped the fly get down in the water column where the trout did most of their feeding a few inches below the surface.

Fishing Soft Hackle Brassies is much the same as fishing any other sunken pattern. In the lakes and ponds I've been fishing this fall, I generally fish with a nine foot rod that throws either a four-weight of five-weight floating weight-forward line. I normally use a ten to twelve foot hand tied fluorocarbon leader with a 5-X or 6-X tippet. If I see a pod of feeding trout, I will try to locate a trout that is cruising in a specific direction and cast to a spot where I think he might rise next. If you guess correctly, you can catch your share of trout. If that method isn't working, then I will cast to the center of the feeding trout pod, and begin a slow, steady, twitching retrieve. In this situation I am hoping that the trout's competitive instincts will cause it to strike quickly. On those occasions when I can't determine where the fish are feeding, I will position myself at a point with a drop-off or calm cove that borders deeper water and “fan-cast” in a methodical manner until I make contact with a fish. If no fish strike, I will then move to a different area and begin my systematic blind casting.

Most of the soft hackle flies that I use go from size #12 to size #16 with size #14 being the most often used size. These same sizes are effective with the Soft Hackle Brassie. If you have the opportunity to experiment with this pattern, you should give them a try. There are so many variations of wire and hackle. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts and learn about your results.  Feel free to contact me by email by clicking here: Paul DiNolo


Soft Hackle Brassies - Three samples from Paul

Tying sequence:

HOOK: Wet fly hook, sizes 12-16 for trout. (Try a size 10 for panfish)

THREAD: 8/0 black, or color to match the wire body

BODY: Copper (or colored) wire wrapped from rear to front.

SOFT HACKLE COLLAR: Used here, from top to bottom: partridge, black hen, and black hen.

Note: Paul suggests no more than three wraps of soft hackle.


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