The Silk Merchant Soft Hackle

Silk Merchant Soft Hackle

Gold Silk Merchant Soft Hackle

Silk bead cord–it’s not just for eyeless flies anymore! Silk bead cord is a popular material to form the loops on eyeless tenkara flies. But did you know it can also be used as a body material?

Many classic soft hackle patterns use silk floss for the body. It sure does create some elegant looking flies, but the silk is comprised of many thin strands which makes it very delicate. It frays easily after mishandling or a few fish. By contrast, silk bead cord is twisted into a rope and much more durable. It also has the advantage of creating a nice, segmented body when wrapped.

The Silk Merchant is a very simple pattern that even beginners will find easy to tie. Simply tie in the cord, wrap it forward toward the head, tie off, wrap in some hackle, then form the head. Here’s the recipe:

The Silk Merchant

Hook: Your choice. I use a TMC 2499 SPBL #12
Thread: 8/0 Uni, your choice of color
Body: #2 silk bead cord, your choice of color
Hackle: Brown partridge

White Silk Merchant Soft Hackle

White Silk Merchant Soft Hackle


Red Silk Merchant Soft Hackle

Red Silk Merchant Soft Hackle

While you can use any color of bead cord you want, I recommend sticking with size #2. Any thicker diameter creates a pretty bulky body, plus #2 is the best size for tying the loops on eyeless flies so it will serve double duty.

Silk bead cord for tenkara flies

Silk bead cord comes in a wide range of colors

You can get the cord variety of colors for a great price on eBay. Click here to see which colors are available now. Also, read more about silk bead cord on this post from Learn Tenkara.

Author: Jason Klass

Jason is an avid fly angler and backpacker. As a former fly fishing guide originally from Western New York, he moved to Colorado and became an early adopter of tenkara which perfectly suited the small, high altitude streams and lakes there. He has not fished a Western-style fly rod for trout since.

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  1. Excellent conception …. Thanks for sharing …

  2. Silk bead cord is excellent to create fly bodies but also very good to make loops on eyeless hooks.
    It’s a great satisfaction for a fly tier to make his own kebari closer to the original Japanese ones with this kind of product.

  3. I have always liked the way silk bodied flies look. Excellent idea and ties.

  4. I use DMC Cotton Embroidery Floss form my local craft store (Michael’s, Joann’s, A.C Moore etc) for body material. Comes a quite a large varierty of colors and keeps their color when wet. When on sale at 4 packs for $1.00 that a whole lot of flies.

  5. Nice flies. Red silk is a very good color for trout. Nice post, thanks for sharing.

  6. Jason sells the #2 silk bead cord for $1.50 per cord—$10.00 order gets free shipping. Just thought some might like to know. Cheers

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