WHAT ARE SPIDERS?
North Country, or soft- hackled flies, are often referred to as ‘Spiders’, yet this term can be misleading to those starting out as it suggests they’re designed to copy spiders, as in arachnids! However, the phrase is a collective title for describing a group of sparsely-hackled wet flies that principally use soft gamebird feathers and natural furs like mole or hare, which are bound together using a natural thread, namely Pearsall’s gossamer silk. Plenty of the time-honoured dressings call for materials from wildlife that is either protected or endangered these days, like the tawny owl, water rail and water vole. Obviously, if we studiously copied old patterns, we’d be potentially breaking the law and/or threatening native wildlife. We must remember too, that in a bygone era, fly-tying materials weren’t readily available (or not so advanced for that matter) so those wishing to dress flies sourced their materials from the fields and hedgerows. Back then too, wildlife seemed much more plentiful when it was normal practice to shoot, or trap any number of different species. These days however, with so many fly-tying companies out there, we have any number of alternatives to hand.