Bill Shuck Soft Hackles and Flymphs

About 10 years ago I saw a fly on a website that I was in just awe over. You know how you see a particular fly and you immediately have a thought of, “Holy crap, that’s awesome!” Well this fly did this for me. I of course began to scramble to find information about the fly. It didn’t take long to find out this fly was called a flymph and was tied by Bill Shuck. Bill called it an Isonychia Flymph.

I was friends with well known fly tyer, Don Bastian, that had mentioned Bill on his blog. So I sent over an email to Don asking him about it. Don said, “Oh, hi Paul, I have Bill’s contact information, why don’t you just ask him about it.” So excitedly, I did just that!

Come to find out Bill Shuck was a very nice guy and was thrilled that I was interested in flymphs. So as I began tying these flies, I would send an email to Bill every time I tried a different fly pattern and have him critique it. He would reply with opinions and suggestions on every one. He became a mentor to me in tying flymphs and soft hackles. I learned how to tie these the right way, with Bill’s guidance. It was an amazing time in my fly tying life. Unfortunately, we lost Bill in 2019. But I will always be grateful to him for spending the time to teach me this style of fly tying.

I know a lot of people don’t understand what flymphs are, so here is the definition of a flymph:

“A wingless artificial fly with a soft, translucent body of fur or wool which blends with the undercolor of the tying silk when wet, utilizing soft hackle fibers easily activated by the currents to give the effect of an insect alive in the water, and strategically cast diagonally upstream or across for the trout to take just below or within a few inches of the surface film.”

-The Art of Tying The Wet Fly and Fishing The Flymph; J.E. Leisenring, V.S. Hidy, 1971.

Below are some of Bill’s flies, tied and photographed by him. I hope you enjoy them. Oh and if you haven’t fished a soft hackle or flymph, you should definitely try it. They can be deadly.

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