North Country Spiders and their use

So, this crossover is nothing new. Im pretty sure the North Country Spider has a long history of being fished with long rods, probably even fixed line rods in England as well. My positive experience with them here in my Colorado tailwaters has made them an indispensable part of my fly box.

Personally, I have enjoyed success fishing them with downstream presentation. Rarely ever do I have the same success when fishing them upstream. The pon pon (tap tap) being a useful presentation from time to time. Also, fishing two of them in a team and dragging and jiggling the top fly in the surface is an exciting way to fish them.

So, have you fished these style of flies with Tenkara? If so, which ones? How do you like to fish them?


Oh yeah baby you know I do. I love the Royal Charlie Hunt style. I fish them every which way. My typical locations are small with canopy and so stealth is most important so I would say mostly upstream presentations but sometimes down as well. I dont do multiple flies often just to limit tangles. On the swing or a lift works well for me. I typically lift slow and then pop into a new cast. I get lots of hits on the lift or just as I am about to cast again.

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Yes definitely on the lift. I need to start fishing royal charlies more often. Any of the fancy attractor flies.

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I fish the Partridge and Orange a lot. Very effective on the swing, lift and hanging downstream with pulse. Seems effective in all presentation in the Driftless. One of my top 10. And maybe top 5


Yes they are very effective. I like tying with silk in general and do a variety of colors.


¡Por supuesto! 当然!mais bien sûr! Of course!!

Partridge and olive is my numbah one fly. I’ll put a small black nickel tungsten bead on it if I want to get depth faster.

That’s a very clean tie of the partridge and orange. Once upon a time I had a couple spools of Pearsalls gossamer in burnt orange, but for the life of me can’t find them now. Unobtanium, gone the way of Chadwicks 477.

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I have fished them, but not as often as other flies.

My typical way of fishing them was upstream or up and across with relatively short drifts. They provide no resistance to being pulled through the water by line sag so I used the lightest line I had - although usually that was no lighter than a size 3. Size 2 is better if you can find it and if your rod does well with it. The light line also aids in strike detection.

Although I have fished two or three or even four flies, the extra flies weren’t worth the extra tangles or the times a missed strike or a fish coming unhooked resulted in the line rebounding into a tree behind me, which generally meant the loss of all of the flies.

As others have said, many of the takes were as I picked up the fly for my next cast. The hackle tends to fold back against the body as the fly is pulled up through the water, giving it the appearance of a mayfly nymph rising to the surface to hatch. As a side note, that proves that a hook set does not need any more force than that used to pick up for your next cast.

Most of the flies I used were “in the style of” North Country Spiders rather than recognized patterns. Of the recognized patterns, I used Partridge and Orange the most.


My favorite dropper fly. Works year round.

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I have fished them quite a bit a few years ago, I definitely do better with them down stream presentation either swinging or light twitch. They definitely work great especially on the end of a tenkara setup.

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Would you mind describing how you do the “tap tap ?“

I fell in love with this type of fly back in early 1980’s when they were no longer “cool” to use when
fly fishing. (1) Hidy/ Leisenring : Flymphs, (2) Ovington/Bastian/Hughes : Classic Wet Flies, (3) Soft Wet Flies: Nemes, (4) Clyde Style Flies: Reid/Lowrie, and (5) North Country Flies: Woolley/Lawrie/Young. If you don’t have “Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies” by Sylvester Nemes do yourself a favor and purchase this wonderful book. I have read and reread this book many times. These type of flies have saved the day many times over when nothing else would work. I’m happy to see you and others are interested in these awesome flies. If you treat the flies they can be use as dry flies as well.


Sure. Tension and light line is the key. No furled lines. Cast downstream to where you want to work the fly. Hold the rod tip up so that only the fly and the tippet are contacting the water. Tap on the rod handle with your pointer finger. How quickly you need to tap and how often, I will let your fish decide. Experiment. Does that help?

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North Country Spiders are ideal for both Tenkara & Fixed Line fly fishing. In fact fishing a similar tied fly, but where the hackle is reversed , has been practised for a few hundred years in Italy - the Valsesiana region. Dr Paul Gaskell wrote a very interesting article on the sunbject - Valsesiana: Fly Fishing Perfection with Silk-bodied, Soft-hackle Wet Flies
The style of fly fishing is still practised today. If you look on YouTube you will find quite a few videos of interest. I am from the UK and have spent many enjoyable hours fishing ‘a team of 2 or 3 spiders on lakes and rivers. My weapon of choice then (1970s) was a 10’6” Bruce & Walker Border fibre glass fly rod. I only wish then that I had access to a 12’ fixed line fly rod then.
Whichever way you tie your spiders give them a go - they are lethal.
You will note from Dr Gaskell’s article the similarity of fly tying styles with Tenkara. The flies used were all tied by hand.
There is one school of thought that believes the Valsesiana style of fly fishing was brought over to the UK a few hundred years ago. Personally I doubt that as the ]spider style of fly, in various forms was well established in Cumbria, Lancashire as well as Yorkshire. Not forgetting Scotland where you have Tummel flies and Clyde style flies, which are tied sparsely.
I am sure you are all familiar with the classic Partridge & Orange, Snipe & purple, Waterhen Bloa, etc. very easy to tie but very satisfying to fish with.
I prefer to fish spiders in rivers ‘Across & down’ the idea being that the feather fibres lie close to the body simulating a nymph. Many fish them upstream and in those cases one practice is to tie tge hackle so it has a ‘kick’. One way of doing this is to wrap a couple of turns of peacock herl or dubbed hare ears to ensure the hackle has something to ‘rest’ against. I was taught many years ago to build up the silk prior to tying tge hackle in. It is not noticeable but does give the fly the kick required.


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