Fix Your Hackles

I have a very effective pattern, but the feathers tend to foul on the hook when I cast

Q: I frequently use a fly with hackles tied in at the bend of the hook. It is a very effective pattern, but the feathers tend to foul on the hook when I cast, particularly if I double-haul. I'm able to solve the problem by applying Softex from the hook bend out about a quarter-inch. But this affects the action of the fly and reduces the number of takes. Any suggestions, Lefty?

Chip Bergeon
Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

A: You may be using saddle hackles that are limp, Chip. These often foul on the hook during a cast. If you are, I suggest replacing them with stiffer neck hackles.

Then again, the problem may be not with the fly but with your casting. When double-hauling - especially when trying for distance - anglers tend to use extra force with the rod hand, shocking the fly line and upsetting the leader. This frequently tangles the fly. When trying for distance, anglers should use a normal, smooth rod-hand stroke with increased acceleration of the hauling hand. This results in more distance and a smooth flight of the line and leader.