The Lamb de Leon

Many of the soft hackle patterns such as the Partridge and Yellow originated in the north country of England at least 400 years ago. There are many soft hackle variations such as the Snipe and Purple, Starling and Herl and Grouse and Orange, but they all generally were tied with hackles of wild birds and bodies of floss or dubbed animal fur. Those materials are very supple and the flies resemble emerging immature insects in the water. However, a soft feather I find to be a very good substitute for those original natural materials is the speckled feather from a Whiting Farms hen Coq-De-Leon (CDL) saddle. I commonly use this feather as a substitute for partridge and other wild birds for tying the historic soft hackle patters and even use it as hackle for the Sakasa Kebari that is fished Tenkara Style with growing popularity. The Lamb de Leon, though, is a pattern I designed and have fished for trout with success specifically to feature feathers of the hen CDL. I generally tie soft hackle patterns in size 14 or smaller; the Lamb de Leon is the only soft hackle I tie in size 10. The pattern is fished best just in the surface across current and down through the swing; I sometimes apply floatant to top barbs to hold in the surface. The recipe follows:

  • Hook: Daiichi 1550 Size 10
  • Thread: Yellow Danville's or Gudebrod 6/0
  • Abdomen: Danville's 4 Strand Rayon Floss in Yellow, One Strand Wrapped Back and Forward and Ribbed with Five Wraps of Small Gold Wire
  • Thorax: Sheared Lamb's Wool in Yellow, Loosely Wrapped
  • Hackle: Whiting Farms Speckled Hen Coq-De-Leon Saddle Feather, Wrapped Front to Rear with Thread Palmered Through to Head
  • Head: Yellow Thread and Water-base Cement

Tying the Lamb de Leon as follows:

1. Bend the barb down as the hook is placed in the vise and start the thread 1/3 of shank from hook eye with reverse jam knot. Counter spin thread to flatten, wrap thread in side-by-side wraps to hook eye then back three wraps and leave thread hanging at rear tie-in point of back of head.

2. Select a hen Coq-de-Leon saddle feather with barbs of length approximately twice the hook gap width. Remove webby barbs from feather shaft and hold very tip of feather in fingers of right hand (if right-handed) with top/shiny side downward and remove barbs from far side of shaft. Hold feather shaft between thumb and opposing finger of left hand and place on top of hook shank with top of feather down, barbs facing towards you and tip of feather forward. The first barb from where barbs were removed should lay directly behind the thread wrap where the thread is hanging in step 1. All barbs and feather tip will be forward of this point and extending over hook eye. Make one thread wrap over shaft and around hook shank and pull upward to force feather shaft down on top of the hook shank and thread base. Make five more side-by-side thread wraps towards hook bend and cut off remaining stub of feather shaft. Leave thread hanging.

3. Tie-in small gold wire under shank with one thread wrap and continue side-by-side flattened thread wraps to point above hook point holding wire down to guide each thread wrap into place. Wrap forward to tie-in point of wire. It is important to lay this thread base prior to applying the floss; otherwise, the color of the floss will bleed and disappear against the color of the hook shank when wet. Tie-in yellow floss under shank with one loose thread wrap, leaving 1 inch tag of floss. Pull tag of floss to shorten at 1/8 inch. Tighten thread wrap by pulling upward and make two more forward thread wraps. Wrap floss to rear tie-in point above hook point and then wrap forward to forward tie-in point of floss. Hold floss firmly downward in left fingers, unwrap two thread wraps and tie-in floss under shank with two forward thread wraps. Counter wrap wire rib with five forward wraps and tie-in under shank where thread is hanging. Continue forward thread wraps to hook eye, reverse and make three thread wraps to tie-in point of soft hackle (rear of head) forcing hackle to 90 degree angle from shaft. Make five thread wraps rearward from soft hackle and let thread hang.

4. Select sparse amount of lamb's wool sufficient for two thread wraps. Dub wool loosely on thread and make two dubbed thread wraps forward, forming the thorax and leave thread hanging.

5. Grasp tip of soft hackle in light hackle pliers and wrap hackle rearward in three wraps to tie-in point of thorax. Tie-in hackle on underside of hook shank with two thread wraps, then palmer two thread wraps forward through soft hackle to rear of head. Whip finish three wraps forward to hook eye, cut thread tag with one scissor blade and finish with water-base cement to secure.




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