Steamed Soft Hackle Fly Anyone? Perhaps you have left your soft hackle wet flies or flymphs in your field box for too long without use (shame on you: you should know better!). Perhaps the hackles on your spider patterns have become twisted, bent and misshapen after they have dried overnight! Don’t worry: all is not lost. Here is how to straighten and revitalise the hackle fibres to just like new again.
Hackle fibres on your spider patterns, flymphs and soft hackle wet flies will get bent and misshapen from time to time. Ah what to do? You could tie them all again. There is another solution though that will revitalise your soft hackle wet flies and which just takes a few minutes. A bonus of performing this trick is that afterwards you can have a nice cup of tea or coffee. Let me explain. All you need is your damaged soft hackle wet flies, a kettle and some water.
The first thing to do is put the kettle on! Fill it up with water and switch it on to boil. Once the kettle has boiled, carefully hold your damaged fly by the bend of the hook and move the fly, hackle first, slowly into the steam. Once you have your fly safely in the steam slowly rotate the fly through 360 degrees. Now you need to be careful at this point. You do this procedure at your own risk. Steam is hot! I will not be held responsible for you burning your fingers (or anything else). Rather than holding the fly with your fingers you can use pliers or forceps. Also take care not to drop your spider patterns or flymphs down the spout and into the kettle (it does nothing for the taste of the forthcoming tea or coffee…).
The steam from the kettle will magically straighten and adjust the hackle fibres. It is surprising at just how much the the steam will straighten even the most misshapen hackle. What you end up with is a revitalised hackle that you can reset by stroking the hackle fibres backwards along the fly or simply just leave as they are.
In this first example you can see how the hackle fibres are bent and misshapen. In this soft hackle fly the red game hen hackle should be lying along the body of the fly.
After steaming you can stroke the hackle fibres back along the body and they will stay in place as they dry.
This Whickhams Fancy is a bit less fancy with its crooked and bent hackle fibres!
Once the furnace hen hackle has been steamed the fibres return to their original condition and position.
The examples above are both hen hackled flies but this technique works equally well on game bird hackles and also on dry flies too.
So there you have a quick, simple and effective way to revitalise your hackles on your spider patterns, flymphs and soft hackle wet flies. Happy steaming!