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A true North Country Spider should have a fairly short body by modern standards - no longer than from the eye to a point opposite the hook point or just past - between the hook point and the barb.

The body should also be SLIM - to match that of an insect - so please do avoid those commercially tied offerings pupporting to be Spiders but tied with heavy floss resulting in a body three to four times thicker than the hook shank - and even extending past the hook bend!

Hackles are generally from game Birds such as Grey Partridge, Grouse, Snipe, Woodcock and waterhen plus some rarer species including Golden Plover and Brown / Tawny Owl. Also, hackles from birds such as Jackdaw, Starling and Hen are used.

The number of turns of hackle are important - just two turns maximum. Again, many commercially tied "Spiders" are far too overdressed!

The only exception is when hackling with Hen where three turns is the norm as the barbs on Hen hackles are thinner than those found on Game birds.

If the recipe calls for dubbing, this is generally VERY sparse - using Mole or Hares' Ear - the intention being that the underlying silk / thread can show through the dubbing when wet.

In addition to offering flies tied to traditional recipes, Spiders Plus offer patterns tied with modern materials ...

Many of the traditional hackles are from birds that are now protected – my feathers are gathered from legal sources:

Tawny / Brown Owl – thank God for Taxidermy shops!
Heron Herl – from the river bank and from Wildlife centres
Golden Plover – legally shot birds
Dotterel – substitute dyed Starling wings and French Partridge wings
Chadwick’s 477 Darning Wool – fishing tackle auctions


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