Popular in wet flies, known as soft hackles, the back feather of the partridge is most often tied around the collar of the fly. As imitators of legs, gills and fins, the tiny barbs of the feather pulsate gently in the water, reassuring fish that the item is fit to eat. As both insect and fry imitators, the flies tied with these feathers are used for all major species and are simple to tie.
Partridge and Yellow
Named for the predominant materials in the fly pattern, the Partridge and Yellow is a classic trout fly and a prime example of a wet soft-hackled fly. From this pattern have come hundreds of variants, but the combination of the neutral partridge and bright floss body has been around for generations.
Hook: Wet fly, Size 8-18
Thread: 6/0 Brown
Body: Yellow Floss
Collar: Barred Partridge Feather
Start the fly by anchoring the thread and tying in a piece of yellow floss. Then wind the thread to a point just behind the hook eye. Next, wind the floss evenly up the hook shank so that no part of the hook is showing. Tie off and trim the floss about one hook-eye length back from the eye. Then tie in a partridge feather with the curvature facing back. Wrap the feather around the shank one or two times, forming a collar by using a hackle pliers. Gently stroke the feathers back and tie off the feather, trimming the excess. Build a small thread head, and whip finish.
The Partridge and Yellow is easily modified and provides a start in the category of soft hackle flies. Use your favorite colors to imitate hatching insects, such as black for caddisflies or green for mayflies. Add a dubbing ball in at the point where you tied off the floss to give the fly a fuller look. Another popular partridge pattern is the Partridge and Orange, and a box of floss will give you access to every color in the rainbow. These flies work great for panfish and trout.
GRHE Soft Hackle
One of my favorite things to do at the vise is try new twists on classic patterns, and patterns don't get any more classic than the Gold Ribbed Hare's Ear nymph. My favorite spin-off of the GRHE is a soft hackle version which provides more motion and more attraction than the standard pattern. Replace the hare's ear tail with a few of the soft hackle fibers from a partridge feather for a barred look and add in a soft hackle collar for a balanced look.
Hook: Wet fly, Size 8-18
Thread: 6/0 White
Tail: Partridge Fibers
Body: Hare's Ear Dubbing
Thorax: Gold Bead
Collar: Partridge Feather
Place a bead over the hook point and slide it up the hook, one bead-length back from the eye. Secure it with thread, if desired. Tie in a small clump of partridge feather fibers as a tail. Then tie in a small piece of gold tinsel to form the rib. Follow this by preparing dubbing made from hare's fur, or use a commercial dubbing to form the body. Whichever you choose, form a tapering body up to the bead thorax. Then palmer, or wind, the gold tinsel to that point. Tie the tinsel off and trim it.
Snug the bead thorax against the dubbing body, and wrap over to the front of the bead. There, tie in a partridge feather, curvature facing back again, and make a collar with a couple of wraps. Tie the feather off, trim, and build a small thread head. Whip finish and apply head cement as needed around the head and bead. This modified GRHE is flashy and is an exciting nymph to fish at the local bluegill hole. The obvious shine and subtle motion are two triggers many panfish cannot resist!
If you are considering giving fly tying a try and are an avid hunter with a reliable shot, everything you need for these patterns and others can be found on the wing, right now...in our outdoors