Fly Tying: Hare’s Ear Soft Hackle

Article contributed by Field Staff Writer M. Spencer.

When you see trout activity on the top but there are no bugs on the surface, there’s a good chance they’re taking what we call “emergers.” Emergers are insects at the stage between a larvae and a “hatching” adult. They’re bursting out of their adolescent husks and working their way up to the surface to breed. A good soft hackle, swung properly, can imitate this sometimes flawlessly.

The best part of the Hare”s Ear Soft Hackle is that it can be tied in any number of colors and sized to match just about anything. Browns and Greys can be great for Mayflies. Tans and greens can be excellent before a Caddis hatch. Most aquatic insect types will go through an emerger stage of some sort.  Like the Flashback Pheasant Tail, the use of a bead in this fly is entirely optional. It’s always a good idea to stock some both with and without a bead. Below are step by step instructions.


  • Hook: 1 or 2x Wet Fly or Nymph hook of your choice.
  • Tail: Hare’s mask or body fibers. (Optional)
  • Abdomen: Hare’s Ear dubbing in your choice of color.
  • Rib: UTC Ultrawire, sized to match fly.
  • Collar: Any variety and color of soft hackle.



  1. Starting your thread behind the hook eye (or bead), wrap a layer of thread to the bend of the hook.
  2. Tie in your tail (if you’re using one) followed by your ribbing material.
  3. Dub yourself a body toward the hook eye (or bead) leaving about two eye lengths of hook exposed.
  4. Wrap your rib up to the point your dubbing stops.
  5. Tie in a soft hackle feather by the tip.
  6. Wrap your hackle to the eye or bead. (Usually 3 or 4 wraps are sufficient.) Tie off, whip finish, and cement.

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