I answer the phone. The voice on the other side says, “Hi Pete it’s Tom”. When a call from Tom Sutcliffe, our doyen of fly fishing in SA comes unexpectedly, it kind of gives one a bit of a jolt, but a welcome one. It feels like the bar has just been raised a level or two, or is it just me?
The conversation goes something like this after a few pleasantries, he asks, “I’m finalising the chapter on flies for my new book, More Sweet Days, and would like to include your wolf spider and wondered if you could write me a short piece about it?” – jolt two. “Of course Tom, I’d be honoured”, trying stifle the urge to let out a whoop, whoop!. “What should I call it, Brigg’s Spider?”, he asks. “I’m not in the habit of naming flies that I tie, because almost all are variants of something that has been tied before”, I said. Tom’s response, “it deserves a name”. Who am I to argue with Tom? – I naturally offered no resistance. However, I replied to say that I thought that Brigg’s Spider sounded too pretentious and that maybe it should simply be referred to as, Pete’s Spider as it is known among my fishing buddies. He liked it and after chatting further about his upcoming new book, he ended the call. The pent up whoop-whoop burst out.
Pete’s Wolf Spider
I am indeed honoured to have a small part in More Sweet Days, a beautifully written book in Tom’s style of sophisticated simplicity, easy reading, insightful, informative and just plain brilliant story telling. If you don’t have a copy I can highly recommend that you get hold of one and as I was, be transported through the pages on his fly fishing journey as if you are walking the banks of a steam with him.
As for Pete’s Spider, you can find the full story in the chapter, The Development of the Wolf Spider, at page 79 of my book, South African Fishing Flies, co-authored with Ed Herbst – from its origins to the current. Also for tying steps – https://callofthestream.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/tying-the-wolf-spider/
Brownie fooled by an early 2000 version of Wolf Spider – photo Shaun Futter.
It is said, “the proof is in the eating” – the trout have done their fair share of that. Not just across the length and breadth of SA including Lesotho, but in the USA, Australia, Scotland and soon to be tested on the chalk streams of England. Its popularity as a searching pattern has grown exponentially. I have tinkered with aspects of the recipe over the years to try and achieve the best results for profile, movement, representation of the distinguishing features of the natural and durability – it’s about there. It’s not the quickest fly to tie, but then I have never quite understood what time and speed have to do with fly tying, unless maybe if you are tying commercially or a guide preparing for clients. Like my fishing, I get lost in time for the delights and pleasure it brings me.