Spiders cover a vast series of fishing flies that can be dated as far back at the 1700's. They originated in the North of the United Kingdom and are still commonly used today by many modern fly fishermen today. The term Spiders is actually inaccurate, Anglers of old did not have the entomology skills we possess today as it was thought trout were taking surface Spiders when in fact, they were more likely to be taking emerging flies.
There are many famous Spider patterns which are used by modern day fly fishermen. Notably the Partridge and Orange and Snipe and Purple of which, seem to be a favourite for the United Kingdom's North Country River fishermen. They are generally fished in teams of three using a drift technique; casting at a 45 degree angle downstream on a river ensures the spiders sweep around in a realistic manner without the fly line causing any drag. Spider patterns are commonly used for targeting Brown, Brook and Rainbow trout but Grayling also favour them. A spider with a splash of pink in it will create a hotspot a winter Grayling cannot resist; a great addition to the winter fly box.
When dressing a Spider pattern, you have to ensure that you take a minimalistic view; less is certainly more with these flies. Hackles should be no more than one and a half turns around the hook shank and the thread should be bedded evenly onto the hook. The materials which are generally used on North Country Spiders (or in the United States of America, Soft Hackle Flies) have rarely changed since their conception. Pearsall's silk being the standard thread, dubbed body furs from a Hare's mask or mole and game bird hackles from Grey Partridge, Starling, Woodcock, Grouse, Snipe, Tawny owl and Golden Plover. Obviously, due to laws governing the protective of some game birds, not all of the hackles of old can be sourced for modern day tying and substitutes are commonly used.
A recent addition to the Partridge of Redditch range is the introduction of the classic style spider hook. The fine wire, Captain Hamilton bend makes them an ideal candidate for tying the North Country Spider patterns and soft hackle river flies. Finished in bronze and available in sizes #12 to #20 they echo the hooks of latter days but combine the strength and confidence of modern hook manufacturing techniques. The return of the classic spider hook has been an essential element to tying North County Spider Patterns.
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