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150 years old, and still going strong
By Niklas Dahlin

  Spiders 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 yellow.

  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 it.

  How to tie a Stewart Black Spider

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



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