Pale Wateries, indeed. The Poult Bloa has Light Cahills and Sulphurs written all over it. When it comes to matching those hatches with North Country style spiders, I have been using my home-brew Partridge and Light Cahill and one of Leisenring’s favorites, the Light Snipe and Yellow. Clearly, the Poult Bloa needs to move into the rotation. This fly would work both as part of a swung team, or as a dropper off a dry.
Poult Bloa North Country Spider
Hook: Dry or wet fly, 14-18
Body: Straw silk
Hackle: Feather from the inside of a grouse wing
No straw-colored silk? Not to worry. UNI makes a very nice Light Cahill thread. Absent an English grouse wing, you could use any number of lighter colored hen hackles. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.
He probably had no idea, but the first angler who took a feather from the game he’d shot and attached it to a hook with some thread borrowed from his wife’s sewing kit was creating a classic. Today, there’s something poetic about catching a trout on a pattern that is hundreds of years old. From Olde England’s North Country to New England, nothing is lost in translation. I like the Partridge and Orange as a caddis imitation. It also makes a fine spinner.
Partridge and Orange
Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-16
Body: Orange silk
Hackle: Grey speckled partridge
If you’re new to soft hackles and North Country Spiders, this a great place to start. By varying the color of the thread and the size of the hook (and even the color of the partridge — the back is covered with brown speckled feathers) you can match just about any hatch. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.
I will not go small wild trout stream fishing, big stream trout fishing, or steelhead fishing without the Snipe and Purple in my box. I particularly like this fly as a midge imitation, seductive hackles fluttering in the current. One day on the Salmon River in Pulaski, my only steelhead came on a Snipe and Purple as it rose off the bottom and swung toward the surface. Try it as a dropper off a bushy dry on a small stream.
Snipe and Purple North Country Spider
Hook: Wet or dry fly 12-18
Body: Purple silk
Wings: Snipe wing over-covert
When I tie this fly for steelhead, I use a 2x strong 1x short size 12-14 hook. I’ll also add a gold rib. Like all North Country Spiders, you can add wiggly leg and wing mass by making more hackle wraps. If you can’t find snipe, try starling. Bonus! The video tutorial for the standard issue fly is right here.
Like a soft-hackled Pheasant Tail, the Sandy Moorgame can look like nothing in particular, but a lot of things in general. Think smaller mayfly nymphs (this is a terrific pattern to place as the top dropper in your nymph rig) and little brown stones when you tie on this classic North Country spider. I have no proof, but in any given year I’m guessing that I’m the only angler on the Farmington River fishing the Sandy Moorgame. (You should do something about that.)
Hook: Wet or dry fly 14-18
Body: Dark brown silk
Wings: Hackled with a dark reddish-brown feather from the back of a grouse
Simplicity rules the day. If you’re being a stickler for authenticity, use English grouse, which is different from some of the other grouse skins available. You could dress the fly more heavily than I’ve done here (two wraps of hackle) — try three or four for some extra wings/legs creepy crawly emerger action. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.
When the hatch is black caddis, I know of no other more bewitching soft hackle brew than the Black Magic. What else would you expect from a North Country spider with a peacock herl thorax? The white fly hatch gets all the juice on the Hous in August, but there’s also a substantial black caddis hatch around the same time. If you’re targeting smallmouth, tie the Black Magic on a 2x stout hook, size 14, or try a size 12 1x short shank. Make it the top dropper on a two fly team (white fly on the bottom) — and hold on.
Body: Black silk
Thorax: Peacock herl
Hackle: Black hen
Tying notes: I attach the hackle, wind the silk, then attach and wrap the herl forward to the hackle tie-in point. Move the thread to the head of the fly, wind the hackle, and whip finish.
As you can see, currentseams is on a North Country Spiders kick. The goal here is to show you some of my favorite classic Yorkshire soft hackles, including the recipe, brief tying directions, and match the hatch notes. I have to confess that I haven’t fished Greensleeves as much as I would like. I tend to tie it smaller, say 14-18. It makes a fine BWO emerger, as well as caddis (and even microcaddis is you wanted to cross the size 20 and smaller Rubicon). It certainly works nicely as the top dropper on your nymph setup.
Greensleeves North Country Spider
Hook: Wet or dry fly, 14-20
Body: Green silk (this is Pearsall’s Gossamer Highland Green)
Hackle: Hen pheasant neck or inside of a woodcock wing (this is woodcock)
Tying notes: This is a fairly straightforward tie. While not as fragile as starling, woodcock isn’t as robust as partridge, so don’t pull too hard as you’re winding. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.
Best is relative, but if I were compiling a list of the best North Country spiders, the Winter Brown would be near the top. While legacy fishers of this fly may have intended it to represent a stone fly, the Winter Brown is for my purposes a caddis imitation (and the trout have agreed on occasions too numerous to mention). Much to like here, including a not-so-common hackle feather and the delectable secret sauce that is peacock herl.
The Winter Brown
Hook: Wet or dry fly, 12-16
Head: Peacock herl
Hackle: Woodcock under covert
Tying notes: The head is tied in first (I tied this fly “wrong” for years). Two or three close wraps are all you need. Next, attach the hackle, then wind it rearward, secure, and clip. Stroke the hackle fibers toward the head (this makes it easier for you to construct the body), then wind the body with two layers of silk. Tie off just behind the hackle, and stroke the fibers back to their natural position. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.