Fishing spiders “English/British” style

pati

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Nov 20, 2012
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Hi

Having recently acquired British citizenship I now want to fish a bit more like a “local” on the river and so decided to give a try to spider fishing as I am quite attracted by the simple nature and sheer beauty of spider patterns.

For us French, we do a lot of nymphing, dries and “conventional” downstream wet flies swinging, but the “English” (should I say British, Welsh,Scottish or Irish instead?) way of fishing spiders is not very much into our arsenal.

So here I am: what is the “theory” and what are the basics of fishing spiders?

For the flies I guess I ll stick to a few classics like Partridge and orange, snip and purple etc. But anything to recommend/I should not be without?

Thanks!
 

Cam

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If you search for "How to fish North Country Spiders" and "Oliver Edwards" on YouTube you should find plenty of information to keep you busy :)

So far as flies go I wouldn't be without Hares Lug & Plover, Partridge & Orange and a black spider

Cam
 

jaybeegee

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Hi Pati,
There are lot’s of regional variations, but the traditional dales method is to fish spiders upstream at short range, not usually more than three rod lengths. My personal preference is a 10ft #3 rod, floating wf line, a tapered leader or furlie to suit conditions and a team of two or three flies usually on mono tippet but fluorocarbon to fish a bit deeper. Cast to rising fish or search features in the heads and tails of a pool, the seam between currents and pocket water. Takes can be difficult to spot so stay in touch with the flies by retrieving to suit the current and look for the leader pausing or twitching. If you are lucky you may spot a fish take. The flies you mention are very good and I would add Waterhen Bloa, a black spider and a grey pattern.
Good luck, it’s a ver satisfying technique when it all comes together.
B
 

micka

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Apr 12, 2010
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1,066
Hi Pati,
There are lot’s of regional variations, but the traditional dales method is to fish spiders upstream at short range, not usually more than three rod lengths. My personal preference is a 10ft #3 rod, floating wf line, a tapered leader or furlie to suit conditions and a team of two or three flies usually on mono tippet but fluorocarbon to fish a bit deeper. Cast to rising fish or search features in the heads and tails of a pool, the seam between currents and pocket water. Takes can be difficult to spot so stay in touch with the flies by retrieving to suit the current and look for the leader pausing or twitching. If you are lucky you may spot a fish take. The flies you mention are very good and I would add Waterhen Bloa, a black spider and a grey pattern.
Good luck, it’s a ver satisfying technique when it all comes together.
B
Good description.

Many will opt for down and across but will pr1ick many fish off even when mending regularly and leaving Oliver Edward's "catenary curve" in the fly line between rod tip and water surface to let fish take and turn. But it can be a good searching method.

Putting a tiny bead on the point spider is sometimes a good idea to spread the depths of the team. It's a method I like when there is some surface, or sub-surface activity with the fish on the fin. If not I'll opt for upstream nymph. But I love the simplicity of the tyings and the general "suggestive" nature of spiders and the fact that it has such a long tradition behind it.

Sometimes I'll tie them Tenkara/Italian style with forward-facing hackles, the late Geoffrey Bucknall used to advocate this too. Does it make a difference in terms of hackle movement and fish interest? I really don't know but it's nice to experiment.

Mick
 
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smallmouth

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I started to tie and fish spiders about thirty years ago by following the advice in Roger Fogg's book, A Handbook of North Country Trout Flies, which I still refer to today. But the book is selling for silly money second hand these days.........

I can remember replying to a similar thread to this started by someone from the US, to which I replied with some info and links to a couple of websites I find useful. But it seems to have completely disappeared?

However if you follow Cam's and jaybeegee's and micka's advice above you can't go wrong really.
 

micka

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I started to tie and fish spiders about thirty years ago by following the advice in Roger Fogg's book, A Handbook of North Country Trout Flies, which I still refer to today. But the book is selling for silly money second hand these days.........

I can remember replying to a similar thread to this started by someone from the US, to which I replied with some info and links to a couple of websites I find useful. But it seems to have completely disappeared?

However if you follow Cam's and jaybeegee's and micka's advice above you can't go wrong really.
The Americans call it fishing with soft-hackle flies but I love that term spider-fishing. One feather that is very difficult to get hold of and is very expensive when it is available is Plover - but my friend tied some spiders for me with it and it really looks the business.

But if Plovers are rare in the wild then I'm more than happy to miss out - conservation comes first. Especially since one of the best patterns (Stewart's Black Spider) is tied with Starling - and for sure they aren't in short supply as they take most of the food in my feeders meant to be spread out amongst other species - though they do considerately take the leather jackets out of my lawn!

Mick
 

Overmiwadrers

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The best three for me is...Waterhen Bloa , Partridge and Orange and Stewarts Black spider . Or Waterhen Bloa, Waterhen Bloa and Waterhen Bloa. For plover substitute I have used French Partridge quite happily ..


O M W
 
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smallmouth

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I've got some of the relevant game bird wings, including golden plover, albeit two to three decades old and well plucked. Plus some Pearsall's gossamer silk.

However when I started tying spiders, I just improvised with the nearest feather/thread/fur I could find and the resulting flies seemed to work well enough, once I'd learnt to dress them sparsely.
 

glosterboy

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Apr 24, 2017
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Gloucester
This is a technique I'd like to try but I only tend to fish very small rivers, down and across certainly wont be an option but is it a viable method in rivers of this sort of size?
Little Avon.jpg
 

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jaybeegee

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This is a technique I'd like to try but I only tend to fish very small rivers, down and across certainly wont be an option but is it a viable method in rivers of this sort of size?View attachment 34324
This is the Nidd up near How Stean Beck, about the same size by the look of it and spiders work very well. It calls for a much shorter rod though.

B

37F3C0D5-B5BC-464E-8C76-EC4813D3F0C0.jpeg
 

bennysbuddy

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Sep 25, 2014
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Marysville Washington U.S.A.
I started to tie and fish spiders about thirty years ago by following the advice in Roger Fogg's book, A Handbook of North Country Trout Flies, which I still refer to today. But the book is selling for silly money second hand these days.........

I can remember replying to a similar thread to this started by someone from the US, to which I replied with some info and links to a couple of websites I find useful. But it seems to have completely disappeared?

However if you follow Cam's and jaybeegee's and micka's advice above you can't go wrong really.
Any other books on the subject you would recommend ? Do to the dismal returns of Steelhead in my home rivers I'm venturing into the Stillwater fly fishing game.
 

smallmouth

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Any other books on the subject you would recommend ? Do to the dismal returns of Steelhead in my home rivers I'm venturing into the Stillwater fly fishing game.

A Handbook of North Country Trout Flies is the only one specifically about spiders that I've read, but it's mostly about river fishing. I'm aware of a couple of others published more recently, but I haven't read them.

Last year I bought Roger Fogg's Wet-Fly Tying and Fishing from Amazon.....

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wet-Fly-Tying-Fishing-Roger-Fogg/dp/184797127X

......just for something to browse during covid lockdown, that's less specialised and has more content about stillwater fishing.


But if it's stillwater trout fishing generally you're interested in, rather than just specifically traditional UK spider fishing, then you might be best searching out content on YouTube from the Canadian fly fisher, Brian Chan.
 

york1e

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Bedale
The best three for me is...Waterhen Bloa , Partridge and Orange and Stewarts Black spider . Or Waterhen Bloa, Waterhen Bloa and Waterhen Bloa. For plover substitute I have used French Partridge quite happily ..


O M W
Good little list 99% my fishing is spiders just missing snipe and purple and needle fly
 

jerryrum

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May 13, 2016
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Milton Keynes and Leighton Buzzard
I'm heading back to Yorkshire to visit my family (who I haven't seen months) and will be spending some time fishing with my dad.

I'll be on the upper Nidd, a river I have only ever used GRHE or Klinks on. This time I'd like to use North Country Spiders, any suggestions as to the size I should buy?

The plan is to buy day tickets for the Pateley Bridge section.
 

jaybeegee

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I'm heading back to Yorkshire to visit my family (who I haven't seen months) and will be spending some time fishing with my dad.

I'll be on the upper Nidd, a river I have only ever used GRHE or Klinks on. This time I'd like to use North Country Spiders, any suggestions as to the size I should buy?

The plan is to buy day tickets for the Pateley Bridge section.
I fish the Nidd between Ramsgill and How Stean Beck and use mostly size 14 and 16s, never bigger but an 18 occasionally. Lovely river, enjoy it.
B
 
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