Big Steelhead Spiders

I’ll admit it: I’m a fly nerd. I love poring through books, looking for new patterns, old patterns, and flashes of inspiration. Trey Combs’ Steelhead Fly Fishing is a terrific resource for the steelhead aficionado, with a significant number of pages devoted to flies. That’s where I found these first two spiders. A more elegant offering than the average steelhead fare, and doubtlessly just as yummy. Flies that can be drifted along the bottom, then left to swing up and hang in the current, tantalizing any nearby fish. Combs attributes the Gold Spider and the Purple Spider to Karl Hauffler. I like his use of multiple birds for the hackles. These flies are tied on Tiemco 7999 size 6 hooks with 6/0 Hot Orange thread, save for the Purple Spider which uses red. Of course, you could tie these as large as you like.
Gold Spider
Butt: Peacock herl
Body: Rear half flat silver tinsel (I used Lagartun mini braid), front half golden yellow angora goat
Hackle: One wrap golden pheasant flank behind two wraps brown pheasant (I used Coq de Leon). Finish with one wrap lemon wood duck.
Purple Spider
Tail: Fuzzy purple hackle barbules
Rear half flat silver tinsel (I used Lagartun mini braid), front half purple angora goat
Two turns deep purple hackle followed by several turns black pheasant rump

Thus familiarized with the template, here’s my own creation:
Ginger Spider
Tail: Hot Orange golden pheasant crest
Body: Rear half gold braid, front half ginger angora goat
Hackle: One turn golden pheasant flank behind two turns grouse behind two turns teal flank

Yorkshire, Meet Pulaski: Small Steelhead Soft-Hackles

In The Soft-Hackled Fly, Sylvester Nemes writes about fishing for — and catching — steelhead on traditional soft-hackles like the Partridge and Orange. Here’s my steelhead take on four classic patterns, clockwise from upper right: Tups Indispensable, Snipe and Purple, Partridge and Green and Orange, and Grouse and Orange.

Small Steelhead Soft-Hackles


These are all tied on 2x stout, 1x short hooks. They’re a size 10, so effectively they’ll fish like a size 12. Construction should be fairly intuitive from looking at the photo. But, here are the complete recipes.


Thread: Yellow
Tail: Dun hen hackle fibers
Body: Fluorescent yellow floss
Thorax: Hot pink yarn
Hackle: Dun hen
Snipe and Purple
Thread: Pearsall’s Gossamer silk, purple
Rib: Gold oval tinsel
Hackle: Snipe
Partridge and Green and Orange
Thread: Fire Orange
Body: 1/2 fluorescent chartreuse yarn, 1/2 fluorescent orange yarn
Rib: Gold oval tinsel
Hackle: Grey partridge
Grouse and Orange
Thread: Fire Orange
Body: Fluorescent orange yarn
Rib: Gold oval tinsel
Hackle: Grouse

Two years ago, I hooked (and ultimately lost) what was easily the largest steelhead I’ve ever done battle with. He took in the deeper end of a swift run that becomes a shallow whitewater nightmare at its head. I saw him clearly during his cartwheeling histrionics, and he was massive. We finally parted ways when he found a submerged logjam my leader didn’t get along with.

The fly he took was the one at lower left.


Steelhead soft hackles Rogues’ Gallery:

Snipe and Purple, November 2016