Thursday, January 15, 2015

"February Red Soft Hackle"

North Country Spiders, or should I say North Country Flies. The latter was the name given this group of wet flies in an article published in Fly Tyer magazine back in 2007. It was this article that got me interested in these thin whispy life like simple patterns. In the time that has passed I have learned the difference between "spiders" and "soft hackle wet flies". In this post I will tell you of what I have learned about the "spiders".

The North Country Spiders date back to the 1800's. They were the preferred flies for trout in the north of England. They are simple patterns of silk thread bodies and soft hackles from various common birds. They are the type of fly that fits in with the title of this blog "simplicity". There are many wonderful books out there on theses flies, I have but two of them. Wet Flies, by Dave Hughs, and The Soft Hackle Fly Addict by Sylvester Nemes. There are a couple more books on my to get list and I hope to locate a good copy of them soon.

Well to get on with it the fly featured is from Hughes book and it's called "February Red Soft Hackle" It is a North Country Spider by definition, but called a soft hackle, which is an American term. It calls for a red silk body, the silk being Pearsalls Gossamer Silk, and hares mask dubbing for a thorax and a grouse feather. Simple easy, and effective.

I tied up several of these February Red flies. One of them I used plain Danville red thread. and the others using Pearsalls silk. This fly is tied with silk. You can see the wonderful rib on the body formed buy the silk. Also silk provides a translucency when wet, something cotton thread doesn't.


Here are two flies. The top is tied with silk and the bottom with cotton thread.


This is a "spider" tied with olive silk and hares mask dubbing, with grouse hackle.


A frontal view of the fly. In a future post I'll give you my take on why you should fish these flies.









32 comments:

  1. They remind me of Crane Flies rather than spiders, but still lovely items sir.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John Wolldridge,
      Thanks.
      I think the term spider does not imply what they are, but what they might appear to be.

      Delete
  2. Those are very similar to the Red Ass used on the Little Red in Arkansas.

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    Replies
    1. riverwalker,
      Thanks.
      Is the Red Ass also a soft hackle?

      Delete
  3. Riverwalker, I had the same thought. I've had some great days over the last month on the LRR using the Red Ass SH...great fly. Very interesting and great timing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Drew LooknFishy,
      Thanks.
      I'm going to check this fly out.

      Delete
    2. I fished the Little Red River years ago with a group of us mostly from Virginia. We started out with sowbugs and had so-so results until I learned about the Green Ass from the manager of the Little Red River Fly Shop, now closed. His wet fly creation used a wet fly hook, green thread abdomen, a tiny ball of tan UV Ice Dub, and partridge hackle. The tan Ice Dub gave off a violet hue. He claimed the tan UV Ice Dub mimicked the violet cast of the exoskeleton of an emerging caddis. It worked and became the #1 fly of our trip for brown trout. Some days it seemed I caught brown trout with every other cast. Since then, I've modified this fly slightly by using partridge dyed caddis green or guinea dyed green and extending the hackle past the bend. It works even better. Has anyone used the Green Ass? I've only heard about it in Arkansas.

      Delete
  4. A couple of the older sources that you might want to have were written by T.E. Pritt- "North Country Flies" and Edmonds & Lee-"Brook and River Trouting".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ssj,
      Thanks.
      Those are the titles on my list...could be costly.

      Delete
    2. You should be able to get reprints from Coch-y-Bonddu books. http://www.anglebooks.com

      Delete
    3. Add books by a couple of contemporary UK authors, Roger Fogg and Mike Harding. "A Guide to North Country Flies and How to Tie Them" by Mike Harding and "Wet-Fly Tying and Fishing" are an excellent start to tying North Country flies. Coch-y-Bonddu books is a good source, but its ordering process is quite fiddly. But I was really impressed how well it packs the shipment for the Royal Mail. A US book dealer is Abe books, which lists hard-to-find flyfishing books and dealers from all over the world. Allow plenty of time for shipment from any book dealer, usually 10 - 14 days or more and be prepared for pricey delivery cost.

      Delete
  5. Ooh, I bet that Red Soft Hackle would be killer up at Heenan Lake. Those Cutthroats love red. Even something as simple as a Red Naked Lady killed them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark Kautz,
      Thanks.
      Another pattern to look into.

      Delete
  6. Those should be good around here as we move into February and March (hint, hint). Nice ties

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark,
      Thanks.
      That's the thought here.

      Delete
  7. I always debate buying some silk and using it on spiders vs gsp, floss & thread, flat waxed or just good old thread. Something about silk though is so beautiful. You have convinced me Alan... On my little sojourn to the Fly Fishing Show tomorrow I'm going to treat myself to some silk :)

    GORGEOUS flies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hibernation,
      Thanks.
      Will silk is so much better. These classic spiders soft hackles deserve it. The trout say "yes".
      I'll be looking for a deal or two tomorrow also.

      Delete
    2. If you see a guy with a brown "Eldredge Brothers Fly Shop" cap (striped bass image) and olive jacket aimlessly wandering around, say hello :)

      Delete
    3. I sure will. I'll be wearing a Catskill Flies hat.

      Delete
    4. If one is going to tie North Country flies, recommend you use silk thread. BTW, Pearsall's Gossamer silk thread is discontinued, but it continues as Langley silk, now in colors from the old recipes. Silk thread becomes darker when wet and can be transformed into different shades with the use of light or dark cobbler's wax. Its translucence allows other shades underneath the silk and is attractive to trout.

      Delete
  8. Those are some beautiful flies. Thanks, for sharing the background on them, as well. Interesting stuff!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Justin Carfagnini,
      Thanks.
      Justin I love tying these flies. And the histories of some of them are incredible.

      Delete
  9. Have fun at the Show guys............................
    Those are beautifully tied. Yes. I am a wet fly/soft hackle fan. Wondering on a source for the silk. The ones I have used were tied with a floss body.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mel,
      Thanks.
      I'm sure we will buddy. Floss is an alternative and is used. The Pearsall Silk can be purchased at many online shops.

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. Jim Yaussy Albright,
      Thanks.
      Little delicate work horses.

      Delete
  11. Beautiful flies. I have one box entirely dedicated to spiders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RM Lytle,
      Thanks.
      There are quite a few of us who have the same boxes. A small stream angler could do well with a few of them ,a few picket pins and a couple of bombers.

      Delete
  12. I love the February Red. I fish it either large (10-12) as an Isonychia or small (16-18) as a Mahogany Dun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. steveculton,
      Thanks.
      Good comparisons. Can't wait to be able to free swing a few.

      Delete
  13. Good Looking flies you've got there Brk Trt!! I think they need a test drive, when the streams thaw!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TROUTI,
      Thanks.
      Hey Pete you have a deal. I'm wondering if the streams along the southern coast might be a little better.

      Delete