if we take a quick look at the fly below we’ll see a really nice looking pattern but we also might think ‘nice but old hat’. now, if we take a look at the video and pay close attention to how it was made we’ll notice two super-duper easy-peasy tricks to get it just right and gorgeous and the second easy-peasy part just might bring some tiers over to the winged wet world where they might have been put off by the more traditional fuss and muss of having to pair left and right feather wing slips.
first up, the use of a two-toned Pearsall’s Gossimer thread
wound in touching turns down the hook shank then back up and that’s it. all the colour separation segmentation trigger points a fly and its tier could ever want or need in one simple step.
using the very same abdomen technique for standard non-winged wets, nymphs, emergers or dries instantly comes to mind. should you need a bulkier or asymmetric body simply create a base with standard thread and cover over with the silk. simples.
secondly- this is where this tutorial is absolutely brilliant !
construction of the wing itself using a single covert feather that’s tied on in one piece without having to deal with slips. put simply, you can’t go wrong and that’s a real bonus for those who like it sweet and simple and don’t have the patience for a possible wrong. i have no idea if Davie came up with the idea himself but i and i’m sure many others will be grateful he shared this great tip once they’ve checked out the vid and tried it out for themselves. enjoy !
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 fly no angler should be without is a small black midge. Summer or winter you will always find them on the water, and so will Mr. Trout.
The beauty of midge patterns is that they don’t need to be complicated, a bit of dubbing and a hackle is all that’s needed.
Stick one on anytime you can’t see what the fish are taking, chances are it’ll work.’
and i couldn’t agree more with Dennis Shaw. these sweet little simple to tie and unpretentious things do good and do good really good.
at first it might seem like a spider but it isn’t. the cock hackle keeps this pattern in the surface film with the body/hook-bend hanging down and the whole thing’s appearance when fished looks similar to an open umbrella in the same manner as emerging midges do when trying to break through the water’s surface tension.
the bug above is on a straight shank size 20 hook but on bigger patterns i’ve found great success using light wire grub style hooks. when sitting in the film, real midges are are twisting and turning so i guess the curved hook reproduces this profile a little more realistically. with teeny-tiny hooks my thought is the hook bend itself reproduces this curved body but then, once again, that’s just a guess.
a very sweet and just as effective just-under-the-surface variant to Denis’s Black Midge would be to replace the cock hackle by just a turn and a half of hen hackle and fish this spider on a degreased dropper attached to the bend of the hook of the dry. a double treat !
click the image above for the materials list and complete sbs on UKFlyDressing and be sure to check out their homepage for hundreds of other groovy flies. enjoy !
as a reminder, Dennis Shaw is the author of the seminal A Complete Dubbing Techniques Tutorial. if you haven’t seen this yet you’re in for a real and unique treat.
both classics, both at the extremes of fly profile volume yet both equally effective.
to start off, a lovely paired waterhen winged Iron Blue Dun from Davie McPhail for when the fishes want something big(ish).
for more wet flies previously posted on TLC click here. enjoy !
by Davie McPhail
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.
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.
something i’ve noticed over the last year or so is, if i haven’t tied any flies for a while (in this case it’s been almost two weeks !), unless there’s an absolute need for a specific pattern, usually the first style of flies that comes to mind and brings back the desire to sit at the bench are spiders (or hackled wets). now, just this morning i received four Whiting hen saddles to try out, a very original tying accessory (haha ! sorry, it’s sort of a Secret for now but i’ll tell you about it soon !), and rediscovered a bunch of vintage spools of silk thread that where hiding in the basement. a sign to get back on the ball if there ever was one.
anyhow… not only is the Grouse and Gold below a nice fly and one sure to be a great March Brown imitation (among others) but there’s a nice trick here i haven’t seen before: the way Davie ties in the peacock herl to finish off the head portion of the fly. i just gave the method a try on a bare hook and it works a charm. it’s one of those “it’s so obvious i should kick myself in the b**** for not having thought of it myself ” type-things…
take note that this will also work equally well with just about any thin-cored material. definitely cool, fast and simple.
dubh, pronounced doo is Scottish Gaelic for black.
hook- Maruto D82 bl #16
thread- Veevus 12/0 dubh
tail- 7 Pardo medium fibers, select the spotted fibers near the tip of the feather to match the markings of the hackle
abdomen- hare dubbing dubh
thorax- 2-3 fibers of Hends Spectra warm-dubh
hackle- Whiting Coq de Leon hen natural
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
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
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 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 (to catch water and slow its descent), if needed, in faster waters those two elements can get some floatant with a little help from the Fly Brush. cast across stream with an upstream reach mend, watch for a swirl and gently strike.
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)