The Heavy Metal Hairy Spyder
Photos and Text By Joe Cornwall
North Country wet flies, often referred to as
spiders, originated in the north of England. First described in print over
five hundred years ago by Dame Juliana Berners in The Treatise of
Fishing with an Angle, these simple patterns define the minimalist
approach. Consisting of one or two materials and a hook, they posses a
spartan look of classic elegance. I am always amazed that such a simple
design can be so amazingly effective in a host of conditions. From
bluegill to bass, trout to carp, a soft hackle fly appeals to all
The Heavy Metal Hairy Spyder is my idea of a new take on an old friend.
Traditional spiders are tied with a silk thread body, sometimes lightly
dubbed with mole or seal fur, and the shoulder feather of an upland game
bird such as a partridge, quail, grouse or woodcock. The soft shoulder
feather offers a subtle, life-like action, and the profile imitates scores
of aquatic insects. This delicate creation only fails when one needs to
get the presentation deeper than a few inches, however. While split shot
and sinking lines are good options, there are circumstances in which the
ďplopĒ of an action-robbing split shot or heavy sink-tip line will spook
wary gamefish. The Heavy Metal Hairy Spyder addresses these circumstances
by incorporating well-balanced weighting with a tough hair-hackle. It is
an ideal offering for educated gamefish.
The HMH Spyder uses a fine wire body to provide sleek, efficient
penetration of the water column. Sold as Ultra-Wire, this material is
available in a multitude of colors. When wrapped over a tapered thread
base, Ultra-Wire creates a realistic, segmented look, which is a central
component of such storied patterns as the Brassie and Copper John. Itís a
fact that the subdued flash and segmented appearance of a wire body is an
effective strike trigger.
Certainly the HMH Spyder would be a wonderfully effective fly using the
traditional covert feather hackle, but Iíve found that a hair hackle
offers greater flexibility for tying larger sizes, is tougher, and
provides the tier a new palette of
natural and dyed colors with which to work. Also, a hair hackle offers
better action in the water whenever the fly must be worked against the
current or fished on a tight line in rapid runs. Good materials for a hair
hackle include squirrel, mink, woodchuck, beaver and muskrat. Only the
guard hairs are used, the soft under-fur must be brushed out.
The secret to tying an effective HMH Spyder or traditional North Country
Spider is applying the material sparsely. The hackle should consist of
just a few mobile strands to imitate the six legs of an insect. The body
should be tight, thin and lightly tapered. When fished on a long, light
fluorocarbon tippet, this simple fly pattern works on just about every
species of fish from late spring through late summer. Tie a dozen in
various colors for your next outing!
Hook: Any dry fly or wet fly hook will work. I like the Mustad
94842, which is used on the flies pictured. For largemouth bass and carp I
use size 8 or 10. For smallmouth bass and panfish I use size 10 or 12.
And, for trout sizes 14 and 16 are so effective they should be banned!
Thread: Use a fine size 8/0 or 10/0 in black, dark brown or any
color to contrast with the body
Body: Ultra-Wire in copper, red and green. For a different effect,
try the new florescent colors.
Hackle: Guard hairs tied in with the tips facing over the eye of
the hook. After youíve wrapped the wire body, pull the hairs back and form
a neat thread head between the hackle and the hook eye. The head will hold
the hair hackle out at an angle for maximum action. Remember to use a
sparse amount of hair!