10 foot Spiders

in the UK the ‘traditional’ way to fish Spiders/North Country Wets/soft hackles is upstream or across stream and that’s how i like to fish them best. it doesn’t have anything to do with the tradition aspect because i couldn’t care less about tradition but because this manner presents the fly(s) in a dead drift/natural way just as one would with a typical dry fly. from that perspective, the two, wets and dries are fished exactly the same, the only difference is the unweighted wets are either drifting  just under the water’s surface film on faster water or just a little bit deeper on slower flows.

Luke Bannister‘s great just-out video shows us the up and across on pretty slow water to sighted fish holding under the surface and not rising to eat. true to form, Luke’s videos are always in gorgeous settings with gorgeous trout, all to the soundtrack courtesy of some lovely little winged musicians: a real treat.
watch it to relax, get excited or to learn, whichever way, it’s all good. enjoy !

a Clyde Style Fly Magpie & Silver

by Davie McPhail

clyde style - 2 centuries of soft-hackled flies

well, Davie’s magpie wing hardly fits in with the description above but it hardly matters because many other references to this style of fly have the same big-winged generosity. thing is,  it’s hard to find any universally accepted definition to the Clyde style fly as most authors tend to have their own vision of it but i believe we can basically break down its most distinctive feature of it being: a spider with a wing sitting pretty on top.

if you’ve been visiting here for a while you’ll most certainly be pretty familiar with the North Country Spider style. this North Country happens to be in the north of England and the Clyde style originated on river Clyde, close to southern Scotland. what connects the two is a line on a map and seeing that fish don’t care about boundaries and it’s the same part of the world, and that even way back then people travelled and drank beer and whisky, it’s all too easy for me at least, to see how fly style mixes occur and people being what they are and proud of their place and country of origin and somehow what happens after all this beer and whisky is a a whole new fly is given birth.
my point here isn’t to propose that someone copied another and even less to take sides (although i tend to like Scots, specially the ladies. must be their accents… ) but, i felt like introducing Davie’s great tying tutorial (that doesn’t really need one after all) in a somewhat grumpily manner as an attempt to get over my recent three-days out and three days blanking.., that for some reason keeps on nagging me to the point that i’m not even really enjoying all this xmas chocolate that’s laying about the house.
since i’m sure that last part has amused you at least a bit, i feel better.

i hope you’ll enjoy the video, it’s a really nice fly.

Clyde style intro excerpt from Nemes’softhackledfliesselling at around 200$ and therefore out of most people’s financial reach,
we can still get a pretty good preview of it by clicking the image of the book.

What is a Flymph ?

Skues Medium-Olive-Nymph-if nothing else it sounds pretty cool but let’s dig a bit more.

“Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy coined the term flymph. What is a flymph? A flymph is a hatching insect be it mayfly, caddisfly, midge, or stonefly that according to Pete Hidy is in the stage of metamorphosis “changing from wingless nymphs to flies with wings”. These flies are historically fished with a across and downstream technique that allows the current to naturally swing and raise the fly up to the surface in front of a rising or holding fish in a manner that activates the soft hackle collar and body materials effectively imitating life in the ascending artificial fly. The attraction of these flies is that not only do they look natural but they behave natural as well. They have movement; they have the appearance of life.”

now, the last part to me is probably the key element when considering constructing these flies: “the appearance of life’ (even though the real bugs could be stillborns or spents, their leg/body/wing parts would still move throughout the drift downstream)

“Traditionally flymphs are tied with natural body materials that will undulate in the currents. These body materials include hare’s mask, peacock, muskrat, mole, squirrel, and other natural fur with guard hairs. Shaggy body materials like rabbit, hare, and squirrel hold water well, sink quickly and also capture small air bubbles when they penetrate the surface film. These air bubbles create shimmer and sheen and look particularly similar to caddis pupa which uses internal gases to propel them to the surface or egg-laying caddis that dive underwater to lay eggs and carry with them oxygen bubbles for respiration. The hackle collars of flymphs are chosen with color and movement in mind to match the emerging wings, antennae, and legs of the ascending nymph. Soft, webby feathers such as hen, partridge, grouse, starling, woodcock, or quail are choice. These feathers absorb water and each has it own unique action underwater.”

such invaluable insights, want tons more ? click either pick for the full, well-worth-the-read article or The Royal Order of Water Buffalos  ooops ! i meant the TIBOTF logo here.

and since it’s the first fly you’ll see when you get there: the all-time classic inevitable must-have super-sleek Partridge & Orange spider,
partridge & orange HWhere’s a hot-off-the-press video tutorial on how to tie it by Hans Weilenmann. enjoy !

related articles

North Country Wets

by Ben Spinks

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.