Year 2018, the summer was too hot, rainless, and uncomfortable. Rivers shut early, dried up and for many the long awaited fly fishing season disappeared as quickly as it came. Amongst all that I had my fair share of success but remarkably, under that long hot summer when I should have been struggling, Spey Spiders in sizes 16 and 18 saved my days and it is these that I will be tying at the BFFI 2019.

Although I have fly fished since the early seventies it was not until the 1990’s that Spiders and Soft Hackles became my new adventure, an escape into another world of tying and fishing. I have and still do occasionally copy the old masters from the books on my shelves but for the past few years those books have just sat their collecting dust. Nowadays I look at pictures of the natural fly and with some imagination put together mixtures of traditional materials in my attempt to discover my own spider patterns. In 2014 I created a new general pattern for myself which I have named “Spey Spider”, a pattern with a much longer hackle. It has been a successful fly for me on the Swedish rivers (where I now live) and the more I fish them the more confidence I gain using them. In my mind it is not a traditionally known spider/soft hackle pattern as it uses a hackle approximately two to two and a half times the length of the body. Hackles I often use are from Waterhen, Coot and Magpie taken from the back, shoulders and flanks of the birds. These hackles are extremely soft and webby and because of these two characteristics alone, the hackle fibres fall back sufficiently over the body of the fly to create the illusion of the shuck shedding stage as the fly emerges through the surface layer. In flowing water and fishing across and down very little work is required except line mending. Of the Spey Spiders I have put together the ones that have been exceptionally successful are the Waterhen Bloa, Blue Winged Olive, Waterhen and Purple, Medium Dark Olive, Craig´s Claret and Craig´s Black Spey Spider. Behind the hackle it is necessary to tie in a thorax (I often use rabbit or beaver) not just to create that teardrop effect but also to keep the spread of the hackle around the body fairly even and to prevent hackle collapse.
I am looking forward to returning to the show in 2019, so please, come by and throw me as many questions as you wish about Spey Spiders, their origin, materials and fishing methods.


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