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Soft-Hackle (Spider) Flies
By Steven H. McGarthwaite


A friend of mine at FAOL sent me an email regarding Spider Patterns. I have always been interested in Soft-Hackle (Spider) Flies, but never really investigated them, or tied them. My fly boxes have very few Spiders, I soon hope to remedy that situation. Spider Patterns are probably some of the earliest flies that were tied and used in fishing. They are also some of the easiest fly to tie, yet there are certain perimeters that should be understood.

    The Spider has it own proper proportions, just as any other fly pattern.

    The Hook is a standard wet fly hook; no extra weight is used.

    The recipes go from very simple to more detailed.

    The body of the fly ends on the hook shank, at the point just above the hook barb.

    The soft-hackle wing sweeps back so the barb tips are inline with the hook barb.

    The Hackle is very sparse with only two or three wraps.

Simple Spider
Simple Spider

Simple Spider with Ribbing
Simple Spider with Ribbing

    Simple Spider

    Hook: Wet Fly (Standard - 1XL).

    Thread: Traditionally Silk, but use what you have available.

    Ribbing: Optional (thin wire or alternative color thread).

    Body: Thread.

    Hackle: Game Bird or Chicken Hen. (Only two or three wraps around hook).

Dubbed body
Simple Spider-Dubbed Body

Dubbed body with ribbing
Simple Spider-Dubbed Body with Ribbing

    Simple Spider - Dubbed Body

    Hook: Wet Fly (Standard - 1XL).

    Thread: Traditionally Silk, but use what you have available.

    Ribbing: Optional (thin wire or alternative color thread).

    Body: Dubbing should be some material that absorbs water, such as rabbit, squirrel or dyed wool.

    Hackle: Game Bird or Chicken Hen. (Only two or three wraps around hook).

Abdomen/Thorax
Simple Spider-Abdomen/Thorax

Abdomen/Thorax with Ribbing
Abdomen/Thorax with Ribbing

    Simple Spider - Abdomen/Thorax

    Hook: Wet Fly (Standard - 1XL)

    Thread: Traditionally Silk, but use what you have available.

    Ribbing: Optional (thin wire or alternative color thread).

    Abdomen: Thread or floss.

    Thorax: Dubbing should be some material that absorbs water, such as rabbit, squirrel or dyed wool.

    Hackle: Game Bird or Chicken Hen. (Only two or three wraps around hook).

Simple Spider-Herl/Dubbed Head
Simple Spider-Herl/Dubbed Head

  Simple Spider-Herl/Dubbed Head with Ribbing
Simple Spider-Herl/Dubbed Head with Ribbing

    Simple Spider-Herl/Dubbed Head

    Hook: Wet Fly (Standard - 1XL).

    Thread: Traditionally Silk, but use what you have available.

    Ribbing: Optional (thin wire or alternative color thread).

    Body: Thread.

    Hackle: Game Bird or Chicken Hen. (Only two or three wraps around hook).

    Head: Peacock Herl, or a Dubbed thread.

Many of the Soft-Hackle (Spider) patterns call for hackle I have never heard of or seen in any fly shop I have visited (Starling, Red Grouse, Snipe, Dotterel, Woodcock, Waterhen, Jackdaw, and Coot). I suggest that the tier use whatever game birds are available locally and make their own personnel patterns, which suit their fancy and serve the purpose. Come to think of it, that is how most fly patterns are created! ~ Parnelli


Please check out the Fly Tying Section, on the Bulletin Board, here at FAOL too.

If you have any questions, tips, or techniques; send them to publisher@flyanglersonline.com

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