Double Hackles
Flies With a Story

Hook: Mustad #38941 or #79580, size 8
Thread: Danville Monocord, 3/0 black
Aft Hackle: Saddle hackle, 4 wraps
Body: Medium chenille
Fore Hackle: Saddle hackle, 4 wraps


Double Hackles on the San Juan

Flies Tied By: Jim LaFevers
Fly Origination: Unknown
Recipe By: Jim
Story By: Jim
Jim's Home: Conroe, Texas
Jim's E-mail:
Jim has been an ardent flytier since 1977. Growing up in Northwest New Mexico, he was exposed to flyfishing at a very young age. Though he prefers to tie flies for trout, he also ties warmwater and saltwater patterns and has been known to take a flyrod after anything that has fins and swims.

Having been raised in Farmington, New Mexico, I had plenty of trout fishing waters within short distances. The San Juan River was one of them. In the late seventies when I began to tie my own flies I frequently headed to the San Juan. This was before the San Juan grew into such a technical midge river and prior to the development of the San Juan Worm. Along the way I would stop at the local fly shop, Jim's Sporting Goods in Bloomfield, New Mexico to get the latest fishing mis-information.

It is this fly shop that I believe developed the now famous San Juan Worm. However, patterns for the San Juan in the late 70's included various woolly worms, nymphs, standard wets and dry flies. But a very productive fly that the shop had in their fly bins was referred to as the "double hackle". Mainly a fore/aft fly design tied with hackle and chenille. Back then, double hackle patterns served me well for the browns and rainbows in the San Juan.

My fondest memory of fishing the San Juan came one October fall day in 1978. The cottonwoods were gold and the sky was overcast with a chilly north wind. I was fishing below the quality water section that day using either a Double Brown Peacock or a Double Ginger/Ginger (see images below).

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I would cast slightly upstream and allow the fly to dead drift and then swing below me, (the chenille body, once waterlogged provided enough weight to sink the fly). I then would strip it back. Most strikes occurred either on the swing or as I stripped the fly. Many rainbows and browns fell to that technique that day.

Since then, I have tied double hackles in many colors. The pattern is not limited to trout and rivers, but is successful on warmwater species and in stillwaters as well. Black/brown versions can be used as large nymphs, stoneflies, madtoms, crayfish, sculpin and dragonfly imitations. Green/olive versions can represent many nymphs, such as the damselfly.



Grey and lighter versions serve as baitfish imitations.

grey double.jpg


Variations with peacock bodies are almost always effective. Double hackles can also be fished dry, perhaps as stonefly or hopper imitations. The possibilities are endless.



The double hackles are easy to tie and the materials are readily available. The fore/aft design can also be incorporated into small dry flies as the well known Renegade has proven. Give them a try, you may be pleasantly surprised.

--Jim LaFevers


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