By Nick Simonson
When you put different upland game birds together on the same hook shank, you’re guaranteed to catch fish. Hungarian partridge (a/k/a gray partridge, but not to be confused with ruffed grouse, which are colloquially referred to as “partridge” in some areas) are oftentimes an accompaniment to the ringneck pheasant in the game pouches of many upland hunters each season, and pairing these two materials on a hook shank creates one of the most effective soft hackle flies available to anglers as well. Add in a twist of peacock herl and you’ve got the Triple P (Partridge, Peacock & Pheasant) – a can’t-fail wet fly that imitates emerging caddis, diving caddis or drowned mayfly spinners.
Hook: Dry Size 14-18
Thread: 6/0 Brown
Abdomen: 4-6 PT Fibers
Thorax: Peacock Herl
Collar: Partridge Breast Feather
Start by tying in four to six PT fibers by the tip at the bend of the hook and advance your thread 2/3 of the way up the hook shank (1). Wrap the fibers forward up to the thread to form a tapered abdomen, tying them off with a couple of thread wraps and trimming the excess (2). This abdomen should look thinner than what you’d normally tie in for a pheasant tail nymph.
Tie in a strand of peacock herl at the point where you tied down the PT fibers and advance your thread to one hook-eye space behind the actual hook eye (3). Wrap the herl a few times in the area between the abdomen and your thread to form a short, thick thorax on the fly, and secure it with a few thread wraps before trimming the excess (4).
At that point, select a barred breast feather from a Hungarian partridge, trim the feather and strip some of the fibers off of the stem, tying it in where the fibers start, with the curvature facing back; trim off the excess stem before proceeding (5). Make one wrap of hackle around the hook shank, stroking the fibers backwards after the turn to set them in place before securing the feather with a few thread wraps and trimming off the excess (6). Form a small thread head, whip finish and cement and your Triple P is ready to hit the water (7).
You’ll find a variety of partridge-based soft hackles out there, with the most popular bodies being simple ones comprised of orange or yellow floss with an optional dubbing thorax. Dubbed “spiders,” these sparsely-hackled flies originated on English streams where they are employed for spooky trout. I’ve found that having pheasant tail fibers for the body of this particular version provides a meatier target and is great in early summer when caddis are on their way out of the water. Give it a shot on your local flow and see what rises.