Practical Fly Tying

Guest Fly Dresser and Contributor

North Country Spiders part I by Tony Downing


I hope this little exercise will be of use to all who look in on this site,
There are lots of tiers who try to correctly tie Spiders, but generally seem to overdress them.
Spiders should be tied sparse, meaning that the body is slim, and the hackle is only 1 to 1 1/2 turns.

The great names from North Country Spider fame are, Edmunds & Lee,
T E Pritt and W C Stewart. Their flies are very similar, but each with its own subtle differences. If you are lucky enough to come across any of their books, treasure them, as they are works of art in themselves.

I recommend that you start tying these flies on size 10 hooks to begin with, this will help you to get a feel for the materials, and get used to the correct proportions of these works of art.

Firstly I will show you a simple Black Spider. The tying silk (in all cases) is Pearsall’s Naples tying silk, and the hackle feather is a Lesser Covert from the wing of a Coot. The method of tying is:- attach the Silk behind the eye and wind 8 turns toward the bend. Prepare the Hackle feather in the normal way, then strip one side clean of barbs. Tie this feather in by the TIP, returning toward the eye 3 turns, trim waste. Take the silk along the shank in touching turns to a point above the barb, then return to the tying in point, lift the hackle to allow the silk to go forward 2 turns, wind a maximum of 2 turns hackle, tie off and trim, form a small neat head, tie off and trim. Your spider should look something like this.

Black Spider

The next one is in the style of W C Stewart. Start in exactly the same way, and tie in the hackle (in this case it is a short fibred Cock Hackle) so that it lies out over the eye. Take the silk along the shank and back to the tie in point of the hackle, now UNWIND 4 TURNS OF SILK, lift the hackle into position and wind 4 turns along the shank, when you meet the silk, tie off the hackle with ONE turn and then continue along the shank toward the eye, binding down the hackle as you go. On reaching the end of the hackle, form a small head, tie off and trim silk, then trim the waste hackle, and your fly should look like the one below

Black Spider

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