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The Reversed Spider
By Preston Singletary, WA

Mike Kinney's Reversed Spider was originally tied for the Stillaguamish River's sea-run cutthroat but has proven to be highly effective, not only in other rivers for cutthroat and steelhead, but also in salt water for cutthroat, coho and even Chinook salmon. It is a style of fly rather than an individual pattern and can be tied in a wide variety of colors and many different kinds of feathers may be used for the hackle. Its greatest attraction seems to lie in the extremely active and seductive movement of the reverse-tied hackle, I know of no other fly that can even begin to equal it.

Materials for the Reversed Spider:

    Hook: Tiemco 200R, or equivalent, size 6 or 8.

    Thread: 6/0 black (or to match body color).

    Body: Medium chenille.

    Hackle and Tail: Lady Amherst pheasant tippet, golden pheasant tippet, dyed or natural mallard flank or any well-marked duck flank, such as wood duck, teal or gadwall.

Tying Instructions for the Reversed Spider:

    Reversed Spider

    1. Build a short thread base right behind the eye of the hook. Select an Amherst tippet feather (or other, see above), strip the lower fibers and the aftershaft feather and stroke the remaining fibers back, leaving about 3/4 of an inch of the tip intact. Tie the feather down immediately behind the eye with 4 or 5 tight turns.

    Reversed Spider

    2. Wind the thread back to a point about 1/8 of an inch ahead of the hook point, snip away the tip of the feather and tie it in as a tail.

    Reversed Spider

    3. At this point the stem of the hackle feather should be pointing out over the eye of the hook and curving down. Bring the thread forward to a point close behind the tie-in point of the hackle feather. Wrap no more than 3 or 4 turns of hackle back along the hook shank, butting each turn closely up behind the previous one. It sometimes helps (especially when using a duck flank feather) to stroke the fibers forward with your free hand as you are winding. Tie it off with 4 or 5 turns of thread and cut off the excess stem and fibers.

    Reversed Spider

    4. Wind the thread back to a point half-way between the hackle and the tail and tie in the chenille.

    Reversed Spider

    5. Wind the chenille forward and over the butts of the hackle to a point just behind the eye of the hook.

    Reversed Spider

    6. Reverse the direction of the chenille, wind smoothly back over the first layer and continue to the base of the tail. Secure the chenille and cut it off, whip-finish and add a drop of head cement.

The Reversed Spider is a simple pattern and easy to tie; once you are familiar with the characteristics of the materials each one should only take a few minutes to complete. This is fortunate since sea-run cutthroat like to hang out in a river's snaggiest neighborhoods and you're bound to have to sacrifice a few flies. As mentioned above, the Reversed Spider represents a style, rather than a single, individual fly. In addition to the fly shown above, some of my favorites include: hot orange body/wood duck (or wood duck-dyed mallard) hackle, black body/yellow-dyed Amherst tippet hackle and yellow body/golden pheasant tippet hackle.

Reversed Spider Variations

In the rivers, I fish the Reversed Spider on a floating line. Sea-run cutthroat are very aggressive and I have had them come straight up out of 10 or 12 feet of water to take this fly fished no more than inch or two deep. On one occasion it even elicited the same response from a summer-run steelhead which missed it on the first try but was hooked on the very next cast. In salt water I have had the most success fishing it on an intermediate-sink line.

Since sea-run cutthroat are so aggressive, as well as blindingly fast, Mike Kinney also developed a special retrieve to use with this fly, one which takes full advantage of the fly's enticing movement, as well as keeping the angler in contact with the fly at all times to reduce the frequency of missed strikes:

Cast the fly across or slightly downstream and mend if the current so dictates. Holding the rod with its tip near the surface of the water and the line trapped between the index finger and the cork of the handle, lift the rod tip about two feet, using only the wrist. As soon as the rod tip comes up, immediately drop it to the surface again while, at the same time, stripping from behind the right hand, taking in all of the slack that will be formed by this movement. At first it may seem a little like trying to rub your stomach while patting the top of your head but, with a bit of practice, it quickly becomes second nature. This technique keeps the fly moving in a consistent series of discrete motions while allowing little or no slack to form in the line. This retrieve is also very effective when fishing streamers, and I have used it in salt water when fishing surface patterns like Miyawaki's Beach Popper.

About Preston

Preston As a native-born Washingtonian, I've fished for salmon, steelhead and sea-run cutthroat almost as long as I can remember. Over forty years ago I discovered the pleasures of fly fishing and never looked back. Having retired seven years ago from a large aerospace firm, I now have almost as much free time as I would like, to spend pursuing those pleasures.

For over ten years now, I have written regular book review and product review columns as an associate editor of Flyfishing & Tying Journal. This has not only made it possible for me to keep abreast of the literary side of the sport, but to try out the latest advances in fly fishing equipment as well; an opportunity for which I am endlessly grateful. You can contact me at: ~ Preston Singletary

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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