what else is there to say ?
Hook: Grip 14723BL #14
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk (Antique Gold)
Hackle: Moorhen marginal wing covert – one side stripped
Body: Tying silk
Origin of LUG
Middle English luggen to pull by the hair or ear, drag, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian lugga to pull by the hair. ”Tiny pinch of dark fur from root of hare’s ear”
Plovers (/ˈplʌvər/ or /ˈploʊvər/) are a widely distributed group of wading birds belonging to the subfamily Charadriinae.
“Golden plover hackle, long enough of fiber to reach almost into the bend, NO longer, long enough to reach the barb is fine.”
The plover group of birds has a distraction display subcategorized as false brooding, pretending to change position, to sit on an imaginary nest site…
“This fly is tied here – NOT in the traditional collar hackled version, but Stewart Spider style, it is my preferred spider construction for action and durability.”
by Stewart-style we’ll take the example of his notorious Black Spider where instead of tight wraps of the hackle against the hook eye (collared), the same amount of wraps (and therefore volume) is distributed over a longer section of the hook shank. fish find this sexier.
the tier unfamiliar with traditional UK patters should take note that the wax used is cobbler’s wax which is usually black or brown and not the ‘average’ light-beige or clear wax typically found in the tying section of your local shop. as you might guess, this tints the tying thread in a more irregular buggy tone difficult to achieve with straight store-bought silks and threads. more sexy.
at over two hundred years old and as productive now as ever this fly is well worth having in different sizes as a staple in any trout box.
it’s construction is pretty straightforward but be sure to click either fly’s pic to access Roy’s step-by-step for all the fine details.
not all bobbins are created equal and that can be a little annoying when we want to use ‘out of the norm’ materials such as sexy Pearsall’s silks for tying say, traditional North Country Spiders or nylon or other cool looking threads found at a sewing shop.
here’s a few examples of different bobbin sizes and some work around solutions.
the ‘standard’ bobbin top right is 33mm wide along it’s axis, the tan one from Hends is 25mm and the orange silk, 17mm.
safe to say neither one will comfortably fit on the same bobbin holder, specially any of the tension adjustment types.
in the video below from Jay Nicholas at The Caddis Fly Shop we’ll see a groovy-nifty quick-fix, short term solution that enables us to use our every day bobbin holder to knock out a few flies.
for a longer term use, specially with materials found on bulk spools such as nylon, it might be worth finding an empty ‘standard’ size bobbin, a screw and nut-
(ok, the spool below isn’t empty. just pretend)
and wind it up all pretty and neat with a power drill.
(if you re-spool monofilament nylon be sure to have a rubber band or similar thing at hand to slip over the tag end when finished or be prepared for a big frustrating mess if you let go of the tag… )
if you plan on using smaller bobbins on a somewhat regular basis, i’d highly recommend finding a cheap, bargain-bin Pakistani or Chinese bobbin holder as in the first pic at the top of the post and bending the arms in to size.
i’ve had that one for a while but if memory is correct i bought it for something like 2€ (2,60 $ or 1,70£) and it holds the tiniest of bobbins.
not a bad investment.
is yet another take on the North Country Spider style of wet flies. this one will have the job of imitating a chironomid. i’ll see if it’s a good actor soon.
hook- Kamazan #18 barbless Maggot (yes, maggot… )
thread- Veevus 14/0 black
abdomen- peacock eye quill died red
thorax- Hends Spectra reddish black
hackle- Whiting Brahma hen natural
so, in W.C.’s honor, here’s a little something i just Fopped up.
greatly inspired by Lucian Vasies’ yummy ‘the Italian Job’, here’s a first (for me) combination of a somewhat traditional North Country style Spider generic emerger pattern with a cdc floating wing puff to keep the main part of the fly stuck in the surface film. the puff also serves to keep an eye on the fly to detect the the very gentle takes that often happen when fishing these types of flies in very calm waters or lakes. the scrufy-fluffy body combined with the hen hackle give a strong impression of life and in this case, of an insect struggling to break through the surface film.
hook- Partridge vintage Captain Hamilton barbless #18
thread- Veevus 14/0 brown
abdomen- a cdc mix of fiery red and brown in a dubbing loop
hackle- Whiting Brahma hen, natural brown wound behind and in front of the cdc wing
wing puff- cdc natural
you’ll find most materials used and a lot more at Lucian’s online shop TroutLine
what a quirky name for such a cool fly !
devised for inciting winter grayling in the crystal-clear waters of Eastern Europe, this simple yet ingenious generic pattern is bound to be a real success anywhere, particularly on calmer waters, tricky flat sections of rivers and lakes.
i love the one-turn hen hackle legs and antennae and the thin, silk-only body reminiscent of North Country Spiders while being a floating fly. you got it, just the CDC wing will be above the water and the rest will be stuck in the surface film: an emerger stuck in and out, a particularly vulnerable moment in an aquatic bug’s (ex) life… irresistible !
click either pic for Lucian’s step by step and materials list, enjoy !
we’d already seen a bit of the history of the North Country Spider patterns, including a video of Davie McPhail tying Stewart’s Black Spider and today i thought i’d share a step-by-step tied in Stewart’s manner by one of the best in traditional flies, my great friend Niklas Dahlin from Sweden.
this is a real treat i hope you’ll enjoy.
” The “Stewart Black Spider” is one of my three favourite Spider patterns, both to tie and fish. So this afternoon I tied some “Stewart black Spider” one of three “most killing” spiders from W.C Stewart´s book the “The Practical Angler”, a fly that´s more than 150 years old, and still going strong. W.C Stewart said “we were first shown it by James Ballie, and have never been without it on our line since”.
slim and sparse, the ‘Black’ has a peculiarity that makes it stand out from the ‘Spider-Crowd’. the starling hackle is twisted together with the thread before being wound down the shank making it a very strong construction good for many, many fish. click on either pic to access Nik’s great step-by-step.
by Ben Spinks via Sexyloops
as i’ve been recently researching and learning about and tying a lot of flies inspired by the North Country Wets or Spiders style and getting quite a few comments and questions by pm in the process, i thought i’d share this inspiring article that has a lot to say about these minimalistic flies and why they’re so effective.
two extracts from an insanely great article that might make some ‘convert’s to these types of flies if they aren’t already.
” Pritt’s argument for the spider pattern was based around something so simple and obvious that it must have been immensely infuriating to hear arguments against it. Life!
Pritt saw that it was nigh impossible to imitate an insect perfectly from an aesthetic point of view, but not from that of an impressionistic one. The theory goes that it is far more difficult to create a perfect imitation and to impart life afterwards, than it is to produce an impressionistic resemblance of an imperfectly developed insect struggling in the current. Basically saying that rather than having a solid body and somewhat rigid wing needing direct manipulation from the angler, you would have a slim, translucent body with a sparse, webby and very mobile hackle capable of moving naturally with the action of the current. It is a wonderfully simple idea that never has and never will fail to catch. “
” Stillborns, cripples and blown over duns going through this process are battered about like there’s no tomorrow, they get tumbled through fast water, bounced off rocks, stuck in weed and generally mashed about. At the end of this, if untaken by a trout, the fly no longer has the distinct uniform appearance of a dun or the crisp outline of a nymph, but appears as rather more of a contorted mess and from the point of view of a trout, a rather effortless meal.
Look at it this way, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow and ended up with my legs pointing backwards and my head up my arse, I’d still be recognisable, just not quite as I should be. People wouldn’t ignore and walk past me, completely the opposite in fact, pretty nurses would come running with ice cream and loosely buttoned tops. Trout are creatures of habit; they don’t like expending any more energy than is necessary to fill their bellies. The ever-present stillborn/cripple therefore provides an excellent opportunity for an easy meal. Ever wondered why the scruffiest of flies often prove more fulfilling than their prim and proper counterparts? Well this I like to think is why: they conform to the trout’s view of normality rather than our own. “
as a nice bonus, there’s some rather good explanations on wing parts that’ll help when trying to make sense of the original recipes.
all in all a great read, enjoy !
click HERE for the full article
for a little look at the tying process, here’s two excellent patterns from Davie McPhail, the classic Stewart’s Spider and an ingenious winged personal concoction, Davie’s Spider.
designed to be a ‘wet emerger’ this spider’s made to stay as close as possible to the surface film during the drift by using a light wired hook, a ‘prickly herl for the body and some hare dubbing as the head. if necessary, in faster waters those two elements can get some floatant with a little help from the Fly Brush. i won’t claim any originality by including a head made of dubbing as it’s undoubtedly been done before but i’ve never heard of this on North Country-style spiders before and would appreciate any information about this. thanks !
hook- Maruto C47 barbless #16
thread- Veevus 14/0 brown
body- one fiber from a large dark brown mottled feather (not sure what bird but any big feather would do)
hackle- creamy grizzly hen
head- Mad Rabbit ! dubbing (hare)
outside of the hook and a wee bit of dubbing behind the hackle, that’s also the materials needed to make this classic North Country Spider.
the day started with some snow and finished off staying wet all day.
some late morning snacks for my slimy friends.
- hook: Maruto D82 # 16 barbless
- thread: Veevus 16/0 black. waxed applied before every step
- rib: Mad Rabbit dubbing, touch-dubbed
- hackle: magpie roadkill feather from the lower neck
- image background: Apple wireless trackpad (optional)
the Maruto D82 is originally intended as a light wire dry fly or light nymph hook so this model will stay close to the water’s surface. i chose this model because it would allow a slightly longer and straighter body than most of my other hooks. it has an interesting bend, i’m anxious to see how it holds fish !
with Oliver Edwards
not being of any traditionalist’s tendencies, what interests me most in wet fly fishing is more the style of fishing rather than the actual flies used as this method works equally well with unweighted nymphs or drowned dries (yup, put sinkant, mud or spit on it and it slowly sinks just where we want it).
active, dynamic, extremely effective and a lot of fun, the goal here is to present flies that might represent deadborns, emergers or spents just below the surface of the water column.
through time i’ve found that wet flies are so effective that i’ll almost always have one trailing behind or before the ‘main fly’, even with streamers ! a guess would be they come over to see the chunk and they take the bite-size, maybe because it looks less intimidating ? who knows.
in the beginning sequence Edwards points out an extremely obvious point that the typical method of fishing wets, ‘down and across’ just doesn’t make for a natural drift.
it does work at times but it’s clear that most salmonids will shun an insect going against or across current because it just doesn’t fit in with what insects do. with the ‘down and across’ method, there are often serious issues in hooking up. if the fish doesn’t turn around or go off at an appropriate angle it’s very easy to pull the hook out of the fish’s mouth as it’s directly inline with the angler. another common problem with this tight-line technique is the fish feels an instant resistance and spits the fly out and break-offs are common with over-excited, overly caffeinated anglers. a lot more important than losing a fly, break-offs suck because the fish ends up with a fly stuck in it’s mouth…
these problems hardly ever occur with the upstream or across stream methods shown on the video as there’s always at least some slack in the system.
(unfortunately, the longer video that demonstrated these fishing techniques with more details has been removed from the public domain but for all interested in learning more about traditional wet fly fishing i’d highly recommend buying Edward’s Essential Skills dvd #4 ‘Wet Fly Fishing on Rivers’)
here Edwards is tying the famous Waterhen Boa or large dark olive or better yet, Baetis rhodani of the ephemeroptera/mayfly family.
this nymph image explains the ‘dark’ part of ‘large dark olive’
(EDIT- THE VIDEO BELOW HAS BEEN REMOVED, I’LL TRY TO FIND ANOTHER ONE ASAP)
like most wet flies it doesn’t really look like anything at the vise but it’s for sure sexy-buggy attractive when wet and tumbling down the current !
originally titled Yorkshire Trout Flies, renamed and republished in 1886, North Country Flies remains a much sought after and hard to find reference book. lucky us, we can read, study and flip through the 97 pages of this book for free and without the dusty-moldy smells of the originals !
i’m not too crazy about his constant references of killing trout and grayling or referring to a fly as “A splendid killer” but there’s a lot to learn about fly design of the time and the specific materials used. interesting detail is these flies seem to represent the ‘new trend’ of hackled flies.
an added bonus for us fly-only fishers is a section in the back of the book on how to rig and fish worms upstream… enjoy !
“It occurred to me, some three or four years ago, that there was again room in this great angling county for a book which should not only give the dressings and seasons of trout flies, but also add the best possible aid in the form of illustrations carefully and accurately coloured, in order to convey to the eye of the beholder correct impressions of size, shape, and colours of those artificial flies which experience has proved are best adapted to the Yorkshire waters.”
after last week’s post on Stewart’s ideas of North Country Spiders, i did a little research and found this little gem: 212 pages in a free pdf format of a 1907 version of Stewart’s seminal treatise The Practical Angler.
what a treat to be able to compare old and new ideas and concepts, what’s held on through time and what’s been proven obsolete.
added bonus ! the lazier among us and those that enjoy hearing a robot voice will find a ‘Read this Book Aloud’ at the top right of the page.
click on the image above to access the book. enjoy !
a few musings on North Country Spiders by W.C. Stewart
“Stewart’s favourite colour appears to have been black, his argument being that, in water, a fly between the fish and the light above is in silhouette, therefore colours are indistinctive, his opinion being that the movement of the hackle (legs) of the fly is the attraction, and this seems to make a lot of sense! Stewart also fiercely maintains that the fly dresser could never truly imitate nature and that Man’s interpretation of what a fly should look like can never ever be truly attained and I quote “Those anglers who think trout will take no fly unless it is an exact imitation of some one of the immense number of flies they are feeding on, must suppose that they know to a shade the colour of every fly on the water, and can detect the least deviation from it – an amount of entomological knowledge that would put to shame the angler himself and a good many naturalists to boot”.
i wonder if he ever considered transparency, refraction and diffraction, the understated elements in fly design.
photo and text source: Fishing with Style