150 years old,
and still going strong
By Niklas Dahlin
and North Country flies has fascinated me for as long as I can
remember. It started when I hosted a fly swap on an English
Internet forum and chose the topic Spiders; just because they
had caught my interest and I wanted to learn more about them. I
was lucky to have some really good spider tyers joining the
swap, so I learned a lot by tying the flies and getting the
chance to se other tiers spiders. One of the flies that came in
my possession was the Stewart black spider, it was my Welsh
friend Alun Rees who had tied it, this fly was really something
else, I just loved its buggy appearance.
After some digging I
found the Practical Angler by W.C. Stewart online. So I read
through the book, the chapter of fly-tying caught my biggest
interest of course. I got very fascinated in the writing and the
thoughts presented by Mr Stewart, and funny enough I got the
feeling of that not much has happened the last 150 years. I
learned by the book that my new little favourite fly was one of
"Three killing Spiders" there was not only the Black Spider,
there was also Red Spider and Dun Spider. It wasn’t Stewart who
originated the fly though, W.C. Stewart says in the book "we
were first shown it by James Ballie, and have never been without
it on our line since“.
One of the flies, the
Dun Spider has and still puzzles me a little. Both the black and
the Red Spider have clearly mentioned thread colours in the
book, but not the Dun Spider. My first thought was then that it
should have the same colour as the hackle, I felt that it made
sense in some way. I thought Black spider -the dark one, Red
spider - the light coloured one and finally the Dun spider as
compromise in between. Well I obviously thought wrong, I thought
Dun was grey when it is more gray, yellow creamish. Well anyway,
I finally found out that the colour of the thread should be
I must say that I am
still very fascinated of the whole thing with these flies. I
really want to recommend everyone to read the book, tie a batch
of the flies, and try them out. They are really worth it not
only in the sence of being an important part of the fly-fishing
history, they also work really well. By the way, nowadays I got
my very own copy of this wonderful book, thanks Alun, I treasure
How to tie a Stewart
Hook: Dry fly hook
Thread: Pearsalls brown, well waxed.
Hackle: Starling neck
1. Start with your
thread on the middle of the shank.
2. Wrap your thread to
the eye of the hook, create a small head. Select a feather with
a fiberlength equal to the shank and tie it in.
3. Lay the thread on the
inside of the feather stem and put together thread and feather
with a hackle plier.
4. Twist feather and thread
with the help of the hackle plier until it looks as on the
picture. I use to help the fibers some with my fingers.
5. Wrap the "hackled
thread" backwards 3-4 wraps and tie it off. Cut off the excess
of the feather.
6. Make some 3-4 extra
wraps of thread and whip finish behind the hackle.
7. Ready to rumble.
By Niklas Dahlin
Visit Niklas Blogg site