If you suffer from arachnophobia, look away now or I accept no responsibility for any adverse reaction that may follow……………………….!
Anatomically, they are fused into two sections, the cephalothorax and abdomen, and joined by a small, cylindrical pedicel. They are air-breathing and unlike other insects they do not have antennae and no muscles in their eight legs which are operated instead by hydraulic pressure; pretty neat, but that is one aspect you won’t need to imitate!
They rank seventh in total species diversity among all other groups of organisms and are found worldwide except for Antarctica. They have become established in nearly every ecological niche around the globe with the exception of air and sea.
You guessed it, I’m talking spiders………fortunately I’m not arachnophobic, nor do the fish seem to be. I have in the past waxed lyrical about the virtues of Leonard Flemming’s exceptional and truly indigenous fly, the Wolf Spider and I haven’t changed my mind on it. However, it also got me thinking about creating a spider of my own and it is one insect that doesn’t take a lot to imitate. Very simply a couple of blobs and eight legs or thereabouts because I suspect the fish generally don’t concern themselves too much with counting. And, I have found that they are not particularly fussy about size and length of the appendages. In fact it seems that the bigger and longer the legs, the more attractive they are to our piscatorial friends. They certainly don’t worry about the particular species of spider as I’m pretty sure, the Latin name is of no concern – a good thing because I’m a philistine when it comes to that level of scientific knowledge.
Leonard Flemming’s original Wolf Spider – probably one of the most consistently successful dry fly patterns I have ever used
What I wanted is a fly that would float well and low on the surface, have a distinctive profile and be recognisable through familiarity as something that exists in that environment, has been eaten and enjoyed before. In fact even fished just below the surface, as a drowned insect is also fine, but it will be a little more difficult to follow in the drift. My first attempts were a bit messy, well probably more than a little messy, even so they did account for a few fish that looked like they had swallowed a kitchen mop with all manner of bushy materials protruding from their mouths. The flies also quickly lost their shape and being such an important element of the design, it was back to the drawing board to modify the tie to get closer to what I expected from the end result. All this one takes is some trimmed to shape closed cell foam in black or tan for the body, a few pheasant tail feather fibers for legs, a small bunch of Z-lon or white foam for the post and a ginger or grizzly hackle tied parachute style.
My simplified version of the Wolf Spider
It is a good searching pattern when the fish are being a little difficult. Importantly though it is recognisable as a food item. Spiders imitations are effective fished pretty much all over the stream, but in particular concentrate along the banks and below over-hanging vegetation where they are most likely to first end up on the water. Also try skating the fly across the surface by using the rod tip and don’t be surprised by the slashing strikes it will attract. I have seen the naturals doing this with their hydraulic appendages in top gear as they try to reach the safety of the bank; some make it others are less fortunate.
Another Brownie fooled by the Wolf Spider
If you have got this far I may not have cured your phobia, but I can highly recommend that you carry a few spider imitations in your fly box and I know this easy to tie pattern is a good one to start with.
Please note that all written and photographic material contained in this blog and its posts are the sole ownership of the author/photographer and may not be copied or used for any purpose whatsoever without the prior consent of the author/photographer having been obtained – Peter Brigg.