On the face of it, no fly is easier to tie than a North Country Spider. A few turns of coloured thread and a wisp of hackle, and that’s it. But what colour thread and what part of the bird must the hackle be plucked from?
Unimpressive they may be in the hand, but introduce the scantily-clad flies to the water and the value of the simple design and the combination of sombre shades becomes immediately apparent.
Without the aid of the rod, the sparse hackles come alive, kicking and folding over the thin body in a near perfect imitation of a nymph caught up in the stream.
The Snipe and Purple is the quintessential Spider.
Originally tied to represent the tiny iron blue dun, it can also be used to imitate any of the darker ephemera such as the purple dun and on stillwaters, both the sepia dun and claret dun.
If the body is to darken to the correct shade when wet, Spiders must be tied with natural silk, be it thread or floss. The original fly called for a spoon-shaped feather found on the marginal coverts of the snipe’s wing although a starling feather plucked from the same part of the wing is a good substitute. Avoid the bumper packets of snipe feathers, which although inexpensive, will hold very few of the correct feathers. A matched pair of snipe wings is a much wiser buy.
Hook Size 14-18 Thread Unwaxed
natural thread Body Tying thread or floss
Hackle Spoon-shaped feather from the
marginal coverts of a snipe or
1. Fix the hook in the vice and run the tying thread on at the eye.
2. Take a three-inch length of purple floss and split it into its two component strands.
3. Take one of the strands and catch it in with the thread a short distance from the eye.
4. Wind the thread over the floss locking it to the hook shank. When the thread has reached the bend wind it back to the eye.
5. Take hold of the floss and begin to wind it along the hook shank. Do not twist the floss. Instead, allow it to spread flat.
6. Keep winding the floss up to the tying thread. As it is being wound flat the finished effect will be nice and smooth. Secure the loose end and remove the excess.
7. Select a spoon shaped feather taken from the underside of a snipe or starling’s wing.
8. Stroke the fibres back so that the tip is exposed. Trim this tip with scissors to leave a short stub.
9. Catch the feather in just behind the eye, by its tip.
10. Take hold of the hackle, by its base, and wind on two full turns.
11. Secure the loose end of the hackle with thread and remove the excess. Stroke the fibres into position and complete with a small head and a whip finish.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
Although regarded as the killing medicine when trout are feeding on iron blues, it can be deadly on a stillwater when trout are feeding on tiny midges near the surface.
W H E N
Early and late in the season whenever trout are pre-occupied with anything small and dark both on and beneath the surface.
H O W
The highly mobile hackle is a key factor in the fly’s success so for best results allow the long fibres to play in the current without any aid of the hand. Fish it as slowly as possible on a stillwater with occasional lifts of the rod tip to give the impression that the fly is swimming to the surface to hatch.
T Y I N G T I P
Use no more than two full turns of the hackle feather. Like all Spiders, it becomes more effective the more chewed and ragged it becomes.