Fly Of The Week
One-Up Mayfly Spinner
One-Up Mayfly Spinner
By Philip White, Darbyshire, England,
Drawing by Skip Hosfield

Previous Flies
Fly Tying Terms

One-Up Mayfly Spinner

A few years ago I started to experiment with a spinner pattern after a particularly enlightening experience during a day's weed cutting and clearing. There had been a good hatch of fly during the day with some rising trout, although not a lot, until the spinner was falling. I started watching the fish (well, it's better than work) taking the spinner and was actually tying to see if they wanted male or female flies, (not an unknown phenomenon) when I realised that rather than choosing the sex of the fly, the fish were actually concentrating only on the living, half-spent flies.

These flies were at the stage where, having been egg-laying for a period, they were exhausted and crash landing on the water. Here they struggled for some time before final collapse and death. During these struggles it is common for the fly to have one wing trapped in the surface film whilst the other is still waving free. These were the flies the trout hit with the greatest relish.

I worked on a pattern that night and hit the jackpot for the House guests on the river the next day with the resultant pattern. It has done very well ever since. Interestingly, the pattern can be dressed in the colors of the Green Drake for use on cold, windy days when there are a lot of "cripples" about.

Materials List:

    Hook:  #10 Sprite Mayfly, or similar fine wire hook 2x - 3x long.

    Tail:  Dark Melanistic Pheasant tail fibers, almost black - if you can get them. Moose body hair will also fill the bill.

    Body:  Two turns pheasant tail then white rabbit fur, turkey biot or polypropylene.

    Thorax:  Dubbing of mixed white and black rabbit guard hairs. (Grey squirrel body is an ideal alternative.)

    Wing:  Dun and dark brown elk. (I like mane or even Texas Whitetail if I can get it - either is finer.)

Tying Instructions:

(Note: This fly can be tied to match any mayfly - check out this weeks Not Quite Entomology article for more.)

1. From the eye makes 20 turns of thread down the hook and then 3 open turns forward again to form a base for the wing. Take a bunch of mixed, stacked hair and tie in the the tips advanced over the eye.

2. Step-cut the butts down the body, thus tapering it, and take the thread to the bend.

3. Tie in the tail fibers and make about 6 turns of thread forward.

4. Form the rear part of the body with the butts of the tail fibers and tie them in.

5. Form the main body forward almost to the root of the wing.

6. Pull the wing bunch upright, lock it in place with several turns of thead in front and then split it into two smaller bunches. Take several turns around the base of each in turn setting them so that one is vertical and the other horizontal as you do so.

7. Dub on the mixed guard hair and form the thorax behind and in front of the wing. Whip finish. Pick out thorax fibers a little, if necessary.

Fishing Suggestions

Both this and the Stuck-Shuck Mayfly benefit from a little movement when they are being fished but do not drag them. Point the rod at the fly with a fairly straight line and then wiggle the rod tip from side to side. For some this this transfers up the line to the fly without causing drag, and the fly twitches and shivers in a very lifelike manner. ~ Phillip White

About Phillip White

Phillip has been a River Keeper for over 20 years, the last 11 of which [at this writing in 1995] have been for the Duke of Rutland where he is Head River River on 12 miles of prime limestone streams (Dewent, Wye, and Lathkill) and has an interest in the Dove, all favorite of Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton, all mentioned in Part II of The Compleat Angler. He has been tying over 30 years, and teaching fly-dressing and fishing for over 20 years. He has had a regular column in the UK publication Trout and Salmon, as well as a video and book. He has demonstrated fly tying world-wide, and has no objection to being contacted by the public, either about his flies or about fishing in England. You can reach him at:

Phillip White
Lathkill Tackle, Unity Complex, Dale Rd. N., Darby Dale
Matlock, Derbyshire
DE4 2HX England
Phone/fax: 1629-735101

This fly is from Patterns of the Master, 30th Anniversary Edition Published by the Oregon Council, FFF, 1995. We thank them for use permission.

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