Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Soft~Hackle Journal November 2018

     At left, a 30” redband that ate a swung Ginger Dabbler up on the Canadian Reach of the Columbia River, in September. It went bananas & took me almost to the spindle, twice.   

There are several engaging projects in the works for the coming year & I’ve promised myself to parcel time better, so have decided to try running SHJ as a monthly online magazine, wherein I dump accumulated angling eclectica. If anybody would like to contribute – a story; a useful tip; a killing fly pattern; a photo; a poem; art; a good joke – contact me at columbiatrout@sbcglobal.net. Payment is ambiguous but may come in unexpected ways. Contributors retain sole rights. Also, if you have a question or would
Ginger Dabbler
like to start a discussion, feel free to use the comment box at the bottom of each post. SHJ averages about 200 readers a day & you might be surprised who reads it, or who might pop up for a discussion. I admit the comment box isn’t very user friendly & many have trouble with it. Here’s a tip if you’re having trouble: the fast-lane is to comment as ‘anonymous’. Then sign your comment with your name, handle, or not at all, as you like.   

Kirk Storer
   Kirk Storer Brahma Spider    

Glad to say I’ve sold out of the welsumer brahma hen capes we raised this year. Response from those who bought them was very good. One guy wrote to tell me he was so excited about the feathers he was wearing the cape. I didn’t ask where he was wearing it, assuming maybe dangling from his neck as a frontal ornament? a chest-piece maybe? A head-dress? I cackle to myself thinking what else. Another tyer, Kirk Storer, went straight to the vise. Along with a few other samples of his elegant work, Kirk sent me the photo of his quill-body spider dressed with the brahma. We have no doubt that one will hunt. Thanks for sharing, Kirk. Good looking softie. 

              Swing The Fly Magazine

Contrary to what electronic propaganda may indicate, real ink is not dead. True, competition from online media has diminished the number of print magazines in recent years, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. To be able to survive, print magazines have been forced to bear down & get better. There are a few angling magazines actually doing very well, & that’s because they offer authentic content that looks good, reads well, is both entertaining & useful. There is still truly quality content that you just can’t get online, & that is in print. And I still love the simple, tactile portability of a good magazine – relaxing in a favorite chair; placed on the nightstand; waiting within reach of the john. I admit to being a devoted fan of Swing The Fly magazine, creative brainchild of Northwest writer/guide/competitive Spey caster, Zack Williams, along with an able cadre of other writer-guides. STF may be unique in that it is assembled & written almost entirely by professional guides who also happen to be writers & artists. The content reflects the depth of knowledge that combined time on the water imparts, & shares it in an inviting, inclusive way. Going into its fourth year, STF keeps getting better, offering artful, eclectic content including stories, poetry, photography, fly tying, how-to features, environmental news, & everything to do with angling with two-handed rods (fresh & salt water), as well as swinging flies. And you need not fish with a two-handed rod to appreciate & learn from STF’s emphasis on swinging flies. As soft-hackles & trouty wetflies are standard baits for Trout Spey, there’s a lot here for soft-hackle, wetfly & streamer swingers. In layout & ethic, STF manages to bring the latest while deftly remaining detached from the lame hyperbole of the latest marketing lingo, staying rooted in & ever true to the authentic tradition of our game – what works. Swing The Fly is the real deal. If you’re considering subscribing to a quality magazine that will entertain, inform, & improve your game, you might want to check it out: http://www.swingthefly.com/

Salar's Nemesis
                Salar's Nemesis

I learned about Sylvester Neme’s salmon fly, Salar’s Nemesis, when Bill Shuck posted his redux of it on the Flymph Forum. The much-respected Mr. Shuck is one of my favorite fly tyers & some of his fine soft-hackle designs have been featured here in SHJ. The pattern caught my attention as a likely wee lure for trout, so I tied some in #8 & #10, altering the original dressing somewhat, adding a bit of antron to the dubbing. These proved worthwhile for local rainbows last Spring. The Nemesis is a passing match for an October caddis pupa, & the fly worked well through the Fall OC season too. Most impressive though, was when I traveled to the Stehekin River in August, where the cutthroat were all over it.

                                            The Continuing Breakdown

Lots of political opinion on the major networks, both fanciful & considered, but you have to dig some to find the real news. The real world issues that seriously need to be addressed. Here’s a few things that worry me:

The broken nuclear power plant at Fukishima is being kept from meltdown by continually pumping seawater through the hot, radioactive core, & the radiated water flowing back into the Pacific Ocean, & this will go on indefinitely until another solution is found. Radiation from Fukishima is being measured in the kelp forest off California beaches.

Educated, trained, well-intentioned scientists without political/cultural agenda are warning us that ocean temperatures are rising at an accelerating pace. West Coast albacore sport & commercial catches have sharply declined over the past ten years, & fish more concentrated in the northern reaches of the historical range. And everybody in the Pacific Northwest is aware how low steelhead returns have become. One of my sons, a commercial fisher, says the schools of baitfish are getting harder to find.

Everything’s connected.

The World Wildlife Federation now estimates the planet has lost 60% of the  number of mammals, birds & fish, it had in 1970. Seriously concerning, if not alarming, at even half that percentage.

Parts of India, Africa & Iran once habitable, are now uninhabitable due to sustained, dangerously high summer temperatures, up to 150 degrees recorded.

The only rational way I can think of to fix these things is to vote in leadership who are committed to fixing them. Hold feet to fire. Lest everything burn. I don’t think voting has ever been more important than it is right now.

            Hero Shots

One last thing: Read a very informative article in Swing The Fly regarding research on the affects of catch & release, wherein I learned that trout removed from the water for even ten seconds may suffer neurological damage that can result in slow death. Hence, I have sworn off taking any more hero shots, holding trout out of the water. If you’re planning a hero shot then I hope you plan do get it done in well under ten seconds. But I’m drawing a line – it’s okay if you’re 16 & under & do it swiftly & gently. Other than that you are a grownup & no longer have the need to show off your angling prowess with a silly photo of you & the fish. That’s not to say a photo of the fish by itself, in water, is a bad idea. In water the fish becomes art. Instead of gasping for its life while we mug, we see the undefeated beauty of the fish itself, like art, evoking importance, & meaningful memories. Please keep ‘em wet.  



  1. Would the layout have to change as you move to the monthly magazine concept? While I look forward to more contributors to The Soft Hackle Journal, I would miss the fellowship of individual posts followed by affable comments.

    1. Bert, the layout will remain the same. May be a single topic, or several. Comment on anything you care to, as always. SHJ will remain the same, maybe slightly more eclectic, but just as affable, & hopefully more interactive for you guys who are regulars.

  2. Being one of the 200 or so I am glad you're going to keep things going. Many blogs have gone belly up I assume from the drain on the owners. I hope the format change gives you a boost of energy and inspiration. I certainly have stole... 'er borrowed a few of the patterns highlighted here and intend to do so again in the future... Rest assured if I ever post pics I always give credit where credit is due. Soft Hackle Journal is always worth the visit.

    1. Daveyohill, good to hear from ye. Thanks for the kind words. Lots of energy & inspiration but not enough hours in the day. Been only posting about once a month anyway. Figured I could throw whatever eclectica into the pack, then shake it out once a month. More stuff to read about. I hope the flies are working for you. Feel free. And feel free to modify them as you like. I believe you'll see a lot more fly patterns in SHJ with the monthly format.