Do you look back at your old flies.

Cap'n Fishy

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I have just looked up Leven spider and there is a video of that being tied.
My fly which is amazingly similar is taken from the book, Fly-Dressing by David J. Collyer.
And it is a Lurex spider.
My Fly
Hook, Wetfly #10
Thread, Uni 8/0 Black.
Tail, Red Floss Doubled and Redoubled.
Body, Flat Silver lurex, (I used Pearl) ( I added UTC SM Silver wire and Bug Bond)
Hackle, Black Hen (I included a very small King Hackle)
Apparently a good fly.
Thought folk may be interested on the origins (and corruptions) of the 'Leven Spider' (as I know the fly with that name).

The original 'Leven Spider' was a fly tied and used by Edinburgh angler, Alec Reid on Loch Leven in the 1970s and 80s. Alec didn't call it the Leven spider. He didn't really have a name for them, but if he did, it was 'black and golds'. He hardly fished anything else, and fished 4 of them at a time on a 4-fly cast on Loch Leven and caught an extraordinary number of fish on them. We tended to refer to it as Alec's black and gold spider. It was incredibly simple... a gold lurex body and a black hen hackle at the head, tied using red thread (no tail). That was it! But Alec would vary the shape, tying some sleeked-back and slim on 14 long-shank hooks, and others more bushy for using on the bob position. Alec's success with it highlighted how much of it is down to technique and not any 'magic fly' patterns.

Alec was fishing with our club in the 1980s, and we were not slow to start using his black and golds. Alec went off to fish with other folk in the mid 80s, leaving his fly with us to play about with, and do a bit of tweakery to them. I introduced a fluo green floss tail and a red-varnished head to mine. I can't remember if my friend and club-mate Ian Macdonald's were identical to mine, or if they had slightly different tweaks. We were both tending to use 3 of them on the 2nd and 3rd droppers and tail, with a Kate McLaren or Kate muddler on the bob. So, my team would look something like this...



We were fishing the Benson & Hedges competition as a club back then, and the big heats were all on Loch Leven. The height of the B&H comp's popularity just happened to coincide with the height of our success with the team of black and golds. Thanks to this, we had some good results in the B&H. The B&H was a 3 fly limit, so I was fishing a pair of black and golds with a Kate on the Bob. I had my best ever catch on Leven in one of the heats and realised there was no need for 4 flies. I have never fished 4 flies from that day to this!

After one successful B&H on Leven, Trout Fisherman magazine asked Ian Macdonald and I for a couple of our flies to publish. Ian gave them his version of the black and gold. But he didn't give it a name - as it still didn't really have one - it was still Alec's fly. So, when they put it in the magazine, they called it the Leven spider. And the rest is history!

In the 70s and 80s, it was a combination of the fish being pelagic roamers, out over open water to feed on Daphnia, and then switching to the big buzzers hatching in the evenings, that fuelled the fly's success. The success of the black and golds on Leven went into decline through the 90s as the whole biology of the loch changed dramatically. I probably have not fished it more than a couple of times since the 1990s.

Col
 
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Oldbones

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Thought folk may be interested on the origins (and corruptions) of the 'Leven Spider' (as I know the fly with that name).

The original 'Leven Spider' was a fly tied and used by Edinburgh angler, Alec Reid on Loch Leven in the 1970s and 80s. Alec didn't call it the Leven spider. He didn't really have a name for them, but if he did, it was 'black and golds'. He hardly fished anything else, and fished 4 of them at a time on a 4-fly cast on Loch Leven and caught an extraordinary number of fish on them. We tended to refer to it as Alec's black and gold spider. It was incredibly simple... a gold lurex body and a black hen hackle at the head, tied using red thread (no tail). That was it! But Alec would vary the shape, tying some sleeked-back and slim on 14 long-shank hooks, and others more bushy for using on the bob position. Alec's success with it highlighted how much of it is down to technique and not any 'magic fly' patterns.

Alec was fishing with our club in the 1980s, and we were not slow to start using his black and golds. Alec went off to fish with other folk in the mid 80s, leaving his fly with us to play about with, and do a bit of tweakery to them. I introduced a fluo green floss tail and a red-varnished head to mine. I can't remember if my friend and club-mate Ian Macdonald's were identical to mine, or if they had slightly different tweaks. We were both tending to use 3 of them on the 2nd and 3rd droppers and tail, with a Kate McLaren or Kate muddler on the bob. So, my team would look something like this...



We were fishing the Benson & Hedges competition as a club back then, and the big heats were all on Loch Leven. The height of the B&H comp's popularity just happened to coincide with the height of our success with the team of black and golds. Thanks to this, we had some good results in the B&H. The B&H was a 3 fly limit, so I was fishing a pair of black and golds with a Kate on the Bob. I had my best ever catch on Leven in one of the heats and realised there was no need for 4 flies. I have never fished 4 flies from that day to this!

After one successful B&H on Leven, Trout Fisherman magazine asked Ian Macdonald and I for a couple of our flies to publish. Ian gave them his version of the black and gold. But he didn't give it a name - as it still didn't really have one - it was still Alec's fly. So, when they put it in the magazine, they called it the Leven spider. And the rest is history!

In the 70s and 80s, it was a combination of the fish being pelagic roamers, out over open water to feed on Daphnia, and then switching to the big buzzers hatching in the evenings that fuelled the fly's success. The success of the black and golds on Leven went into decline through the 90s as the whole biology of the loch changed dramatically. I probably have not fished it more than a couple of times since the 1990s.

Col
What am amazing post and some bonny flies, never fished a big place like Loch Leven, driven past it a few times and thouht, one day.
But I have fished Rescobie Loch in Forfar,
Brilliant post Capt N Fishy
Thank you.
 

speytime

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Apparently loch Leven was in a class of it own back in the day, wasn't it leven trout that were taken to various countries to stock rivers?

Al
 

Cap'n Fishy

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Apparently loch Leven was in a class of it own back in the day, wasn't it leven trout that were taken to various countries to stock rivers?

Al
I think they were used to stock quite a few waters, but as soon as you take them out of Loch Leven, they stop being Loch Leven trout and they are simply a brown trout that starts in its new home with the Loch Leven DNA. Over time it will diverge to suit its new habitat. You can't call them Loch Leven trout hundreds of years later... but folk still do! The reason Loch Leven trout look the way they do is because of their pelagic roaming over shallow water with a sand bottom. They go for the same disruptive colouration that sea trout do...



But it's no different a colouration to a pelagic roamer caught in another loch. This is one from out in the middle of Loch Harray...



If you catch a Leven fish that has been living in the weed beds and margins, it looks more typical of brown trout...



Col
 

Cap'n Fishy

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The pelagic roamers of Loch Leven were among the most beautiful looking brown trout you are ever likely to see.
No' half!

Back in the late 1980s, we wished we could be on Loch Leven every evening! Never had fishing like it, before or since (apart from the year of the big grown-on rainbows on Leven!).

Look how similar those Leven fish are to an Ythan sea trout...



They are living in the shallow, sandy estuary, on sandeels. So, you have two fish - both Salmo trutta, living in similar habitat, and adopting the same disruptive colouration. The only difference is the salt content of the water.

Col
 

fishing hobo

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The early ones I tied that I don't like the looks of have never been on the end of my line. I have undone the flies and tied something else.
 

Oldbones

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The pelagic roamers of Loch Leven were among the most beautiful looking brown trout you are ever likely to see.This one was a typical specimen.
That very brown trout is amazing. Well they all are.
I caught this fish on the Wharfe at Addingham on a cold windy day, I was using a 8 foot Hardy Demon 4 weight, took a while to get it in. Fly Fishing is amazing.
Best trout.jpg
 

tingvollr

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Thought folk may be interested on the origins (and corruptions) of the 'Leven Spider' (as I know the fly with that name).

The original 'Leven Spider' was a fly tied and used by Edinburgh angler, Alec Reid on Loch Leven in the 1970s and 80s. Alec didn't call it the Leven spider. He didn't really have a name for them, but if he did, it was 'black and golds'. He hardly fished anything else, and fished 4 of them at a time on a 4-fly cast on Loch Leven and caught an extraordinary number of fish on them. We tended to refer to it as Alec's black and gold spider. It was incredibly simple... a gold lurex body and a black hen hackle at the head, tied using red thread (no tail). That was it! But Alec would vary the shape, tying some sleeked-back and slim on 14 long-shank hooks, and others more bushy for using on the bob position. Alec's success with it highlighted how much of it is down to technique and not any 'magic fly' patterns.

Alec was fishing with our club in the 1980s, and we were not slow to start using his black and golds. Alec went off to fish with other folk in the mid 80s, leaving his fly with us to play about with, and do a bit of tweakery to them. I introduced a fluo green floss tail and a red-varnished head to mine. I can't remember if my friend and club-mate Ian Macdonald's were identical to mine, or if they had slightly different tweaks. We were both tending to use 3 of them on the 2nd and 3rd droppers and tail, with a Kate McLaren or Kate muddler on the bob. So, my team would look something like this...



We were fishing the Benson & Hedges competition as a club back then, and the big heats were all on Loch Leven. The height of the B&H comp's popularity just happened to coincide with the height of our success with the team of black and golds. Thanks to this, we had some good results in the B&H. The B&H was a 3 fly limit, so I was fishing a pair of black and golds with a Kate on the Bob. I had my best ever catch on Leven in one of the heats and realised there was no need for 4 flies. I have never fished 4 flies from that day to this!

After one successful B&H on Leven, Trout Fisherman magazine asked Ian Macdonald and I for a couple of our flies to publish. Ian gave them his version of the black and gold. But he didn't give it a name - as it still didn't really have one - it was still Alec's fly. So, when they put it in the magazine, they called it the Leven spider. And the rest is history!

In the 70s and 80s, it was a combination of the fish being pelagic roamers, out over open water to feed on Daphnia, and then switching to the big buzzers hatching in the evenings, that fuelled the fly's success. The success of the black and golds on Leven went into decline through the 90s as the whole biology of the loch changed dramatically. I probably have not fished it more than a couple of times since the 1990s.

Col
Very interesting to read about the origins of this fly Col. I remember reading about it in an article in the Trout Fisherman magazine by Stan Headley. His had a green tail and I had quite a bit of success with it on the limestone lochs in Shetland. I decided to tie it up without the green tail and one day when I was on holiday in Orkney, I decided to enter the Stenness competition. It was a cloudless day with a light breeze - not at all suitable for fishing but never the less there were many anglers out mainly in boats. I decided to go up to the Voy shallows and fished my way along the shoreline with a green tailed Leven spider on the tail and my tailless one on the dropper. It was very hard fishing but I ended up with 3 fish and headed for the weigh in. Thinking I would be totally outgunned by the esteemed locals, some whith international experience I headed towards the scales to weigh in my 3 fish. All heads turned around in amazement as I weighed my modest basket of fish. Aparently the only other person to weigh in was Sandy Maconnochie. Stan Headly's comment was " typical - only a man from Shetland could winkle out a few fish on a day like this!".
A great wee fly that still catches for me. Sadly I wasn't allowed to take the trophy back to Shetland but I did get a small momento trophy sent to me at the end of the season!
 
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speytime

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@Cap'n Fishy I never suggested they were loch Leven trout once removed, only that leven stock was used to stock rivers world wide.
I'm curious why Loch Leven dna was selected over the numerous lochs in the UK?

Cheers Al
 

Cap'n Fishy

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@Cap'n Fishy I never suggested they were loch Leven trout once removed, only that leven stock was used to stock rivers world wide.
I'm curious why Loch Leven dna was selected over the numerous lochs in the UK?

Cheers Al
Sure - I wasn't implying that you were calling them Loch Leven trout after being placed elsewhere. Just that loads of folk do.

I suspect the reason they often went for Leven trout was that back in the day it had a huge head of fish in it - they used to net it commercially - from 1314 to 1873, after which it changed to recreational fishing. There was an old photo of a catch from the loch made over several days in something like the 1920s? And it was a mountain of trout!

That, and they looked a bit special, with their silvery, sea trout-like appearance. Why wouldn't you choose them over small, black moorland trout?

Col
 

Wee Jimmy

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My attitude towards fly patterns are why not share them with others. If they have brought success to you then it can bring you a lot of pleasure when others catch on them too.
That and the fact we can always learn something from eachother if you are open minded enough,no matter how long in the tooth we might be.
 

Cap'n Fishy

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My attitude towards fly patterns are why not share them with others. If they have brought success to you then it can bring you a lot of pleasure when others catch on them too.
Always been my attitude. Never understood the whole secrecy thing. If I give you one of my flies and you catch more on it than me, then you are a better fisherman than me, and my fly has earned kudos!

Back in the early days of the internet, I was our club secretary, and still involved in the competition scene. I started a club website and started putting up reports of our outings, with who had caught what, using which methods and lines, and where and on what flies. Then I started photographing the successful flies and adding them in. I used to get the competition guys coming up to me and winking and saying they had seen my 'wind-up reports' and had a laugh at them. They thought the whole thing was designed to give people a bum steer - like carpark flies and floaters dyed dark grey and all that cloak and dagger stuff. I thought, good luck to them. I walked away from having anything to do with or any interest in competitions shortly after.

These days, I hear stories about people complaining about me putting up reports of what is catching for us on such and such a water - objecting to me giving away intel to their competitors. I guess I should be pleased that they realise they were never a wind-up. 🤭

Col
 

speytime

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I used to fish with people that treated every outing as a competition, they could tell me what i caught when and where, eh?
I just didn't get it, i was there to catch fish and have a good day I didn't give a flying what anyone else caught.
Stillwater certainly isn't my area of expertise, I'm more at home on the river, I've often shared flies I'm catching fish with, ideally I'm looking for everyone to have a good day...especially me 😂
Edit.. what I caught instead of was caught 🧐

Al
 
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wjg

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Here, in my Province, all waters are public access. Crossing private property to get to a river is a right. I find the "competitive types" are more secretive about the locations than the fly. I did get a chuckle watching from a bridge once. Local fisherman broke off on a very large brook trout. He was most upset about the next fisherman who caught that fish would see his newest killer fly.
 
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