700 Followers Contest Swag

Congratulations to Ron, Toby, and Michael, our three winners in the Currentseams.com 700 followers contest! Each will be receiving a selection of a dozen wet flies, including classic North Country spiders, Leisenring’s favorites, traditional American wet patterns, and a couple Culton originals. Some of the flies are the actual ones featured in the photos for this winter’s wet fly series.

I had hoped to get these out today, but it will have to wait for the weekend or Monday. I’ll let the winners know when I ship.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone for reading and following currentseams. Without you, I wouldn’t be able to do this. Tight lines to all, and on to 800!

Gentlemen, start your drooling. From left to right, Ron’s, Toby’s, and Michael’s dozen. Get these wet and do us proud, gentlemen — and of course, we want to see photos.

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Best of North Country Spiders: Waterhen Bloa

You’ll often find BWOs on the greyest of days, so ’tis fitting that this ancient-and-tradtional Olive pattern sports the same somber hues. It also makes a fine Early Grey Stone.

Waterhen Bloa

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 14-18
Silk: Yellow
Body: Silk dubbed with water rat (muskrat) or mole fur
Hackle: Waterhen under covert feather
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Tying Notes: Waterhen is difficult to track down. Starling or blue-grey dun hen are suitable replacements. You should be able to see the thread clearly through the dubbing — I call it “dusting the thread.” This fellow is slightly on the heavy side of dubbing. Keep enough thread waxed (I used cobbler’s wax) to avoid having a bright yellow head. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Best of North Country Spiders: Orange Partridge

What’s the difference between a Partridge and Orange and an Orange Partridge? Not much. And everything. Sure, the gold rib provides segmentation and a hint of flash. But for me, it’s the brown speckled hackle that gives the Orange Partridge an entirely different energy. They liked this pattern for olives on the streams of Yorkshire; I’m seeing caddis all the way. Tell you what: let the trout decide what it is. And hold on tight.

Orange Partridge

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 14-16
Silk: Orange
Rib: Fine gold wire
Hackle: Brown speckled feather from a partridge’s back
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Tying Notes: Another straightforward tie. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Best of North Country Spiders: Snipe Bloa

The Snipe Bloa is one of those flies that has a palpable energy, even when it’s resting in the palm of your hand. I think I prefer James Leisenring’s take on this pattern, the Light Snipe and Yellow, which uses Primrose silk, a fine gold wire rib, and snipe undercovert. This version (you can find many iterations of the Snipe Bloa; Pritt lists two) is taken from Sylvester Lister. It’s also called the Snipe and Yellow. Yellow Sallies, Sulphurs, Dorothea, Summer Stenos — the answer is “yes.”

Snipe Bloa

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 16-20
Silk: Yellow
Hackle: Small darkish feather from under snipe’s wing
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Tying Notes: No snipe? No worries. Starling is your friend. This is a fast, simple tie. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Best of North Country Spiders: Grey Partridge (Grey Watchet)

My interest in North Country Spiders is twofold: that they’re cool (traditional, sparse, elegant, simple), and that so many of them translate well to our streams here in the U.S. Like the Grey Partridge. I first saw this pattern in Syl Nemes’ Two Centuries of Soft-Hackled Flies. Nemes saw it in T.E. Pritt’s North Country Flies. Now I’m sharing it with you. This pattern doesn’t get a lot of juice, but it makes a darned good Light Cahill. Just ask the trout.

Grey Partridge (Grey Watchet)

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-16
Silk: Straw
Hackle: A light feather from a Partridge’s breast
Head: Peacock herl
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Tying Notes: If you’re going for authenticity, tie the head in first and finish the fly behind the hackle. I used two strands of herl spun on thread for this fly; you can see the technique in my Drowned Ant video here. Next, attach and wind the hackle rearward. (It take s little practice.) Wind the silk body and finish. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Best of North Country Spiders: Smoke Fly

You’ll often hear me say that there ain’t no best — only what’s best for you, or the situation. For this “Best of North Country Spiders” series, I’ve been choosing the flies based on what I like to fish here in the northeastern U.S. Or, in the case of the Smoke Fly, flies that I can’t believe I never fished, but should have. Beetle, anyone? How about a midge in size 18-20 (like a subsurface Griffith’s Gnat)? Even a steelhead fly in 2x short, 2x stout size 12. My mind is whirring…

Smoke Fly

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 14-20
Silk: Purple
Body: Peacock herl
Hackle: Snipe undercovert or light blue-grey hen
Head: Peacock herl
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Tying Notes: To tie a more durable body, use two strands of herl spun on a length of thread or silk; you can see the technique in my Drowned Ant video here. I used hen hackle for this tie. The head is three wraps of a single strand of herl. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.

Best of North Country Spiders: Yorkshire Greenwell

Sticklers may argue that this is a really winged wet. Yet there are multiple references dating back a long ways about the Yorkshire take on the legacy pattern Greenwell’s Glory. Tell you what: I’m including it here because it’s a storied fly — and most of all because I like it. Oh. Trout like it, too. Caddis, olives…it’s all glorious with Greenwell.

Yorkshire Greenwell

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Hook: Dry or wet fly, 12-16
Body: Yellow silk waxed to an olive shade
Rib: Fine gold wire
Hackle: Furnace hen
Wing: Woodcock or starling
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Tying Notes: Cobbler’s wax does a fine job of coloring up Pearsall’s Primrose Yellow. As for the wing/hackle order, I’ve seen this fly tied two ways: wing first and hackle first. The version pictured is hackle first, followed by starling for the wing. To tie in a quill wing with a minimum of grief, grip it between your thumb and middle finger (don’t ask why, just do it) position it, and bind down with three tight wraps. You can find a general North Country spider video tutorial here.