I had the good fortune to sit down with Sylvester Nemes at our big Fly Tying Expo we hold every year in April in Idaho Falls. He was tying soft hackles at a booth, and I sat down to watch not knowing it was Sy. I raved about the fly type, and how well I had done with it, and the guy next to me said, "do you know who that is?" I didn't know, and then was very excited to watch him tie, and meet him. That was back in 2004 ? He said to sit and watch him tie another fly, and said he wished he could tie one smaller than size #14, and that 12's, and #14's were all that he tied. I told him, "I can do it." And he got up, and put me in the pilots seat. He got out a pencil and paper, and drew up the method, and it is in his latest soft hackle addition. I don't know if Sy is even alive today. I do know that his health was very bad shortly after the show. My method depends on a bead behind the head. For small patterns fished near the surface, I use the XSM glass beads. They come in black, brown, peacock colored, and look like a shiny bug head. The bead secures the feather butts. You prepare the feather by cutting out the tip, and cutting it back to where you like the length of barbules. Choose how many on each side, you can remove the rest from the stem, and a simple pattern can be a thread abdomen, a bumped up thorax that will hold the hackle fibers out, and you angle down and place the prepared feather at the thorax front, and behind the bead. A couple of soft wraps, holding the feather down, and pull tight. At this point, you can manipulate the feather, and even pull it back through the wraps if you see the hackles extend back to far for your liking. A few more wraps, tie it off, and I trim the butts like a short elk haired caddis head. The key moving hackles are the ones to the side. The fish sees the body profile, and the moving legs. Unfortunately, Sy does not use any synthetic material..says it isn't fly fishing, so no beads, I had to secure the feather without the advantage of pulling the feather down behind the bead. I tie them in bigger, streamer types using a mallard flank feather on bigger hooks, for a golden stone, or Salmonfly nymph using the long, pheasant rump hackles...everything from a #18 on a short shanked caddis/pupa hook to a #6 3xl streamer, or large nymph type. And they have been dyno-mite fishing riffles getting long, fly presentations. I even began spey casting a switch rod, and spey casting a 9.5' single hander...i bird hunt, and have used the soft hackles of a lot of game birds..the various grouse, partridge, ducks that have some great feathers from ducks like Gadwalls, pheasants...makes fishing them even more fun.