Heavy Metal Hairy Spyder
Originally Published in
Country Anglin' Outdoor Guide
By Joseph D. Cornwall
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 and trout to carp, a soft hackle fly
appeals to all gamefish.
The term "Spyder"
derives from horse-drawn carriages, as do other automotive terms. A spider
phaeton was a lighter version of a phaeton, having narrower, spindly wheels
and two-seat accommodation. This term was subsequently applied to cars.
The first car to be officially called a "spyder" was the Porsche 550 Spyder.
The name implied an extremely rudimentary top mechanism originating from a
small two-seat horse-cart with a folding sunshade made of four bows; with
its black cloth top and exposed sides for air circulation it resembled an
For a fly fisher, the Heavy Metal Hairy
Spyder is a new take on an old friend, a sporty convertible pattern that can
fish demanding waters with impeccable ease. I worked this pattern out several
years ago when I was fishing the Mad River on something like a regular
basis. If this were in my fly box In three colors, I'd fish there
today, or any day of any season, and carry no other pattern. I'll make that
same claim for any Midwestern tail-water fishery or creek - I'd rather have
this pattern and no others than a box of the others and not this!
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
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
subtle flash and segmented appearance of a wire body is an effective strike
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 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. The colors I've found to be irreplaceable include red
body and pine squirrel hackle, green body and possum hackle and copper body
with a light dun mink hackle.
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 on the Mad River,
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, especially on low water steelhead around Lake Erie.
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!