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Thread: Stewart's Black Spider

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Default Stewart's Black Spider

    Hereís a pattern that comes to us from across the pond and that goes way back to 1857 when it was first described in a book published by W. E. Stewart. Iíve found it to be a great fish-getter. Fished either across and down like a standard wet fly or up and across to feeding trout, this fly seems to get the job done all the time; whether thereís a hatch on or not.

    Itís a very simple pattern, but can be tied in a variety of ways. I tie it differently than Oliver Edwards; closer to the way that Davie McPhail ties it, but still somewhat different. The twisted Starling hackle is what gives this fly so much action in the water; even in stillwaters.

    1. Here are the materials that you need: 1. Hook: Daiichi 1180, #16, 2. Thread: Danville FlyMaster 6/0, tawny brown, 3. Cobblerís wax, black, 4. Starling shoulder hackle, iridescent green. Thatís it.



    2. Thread the hook from the eye back to the half-way point between the eye and the bend using tying thread.



    3. Next, wax the thread with the black Cobblerís wax (this stuff is hard, but 5 seconds in the microwave gets it very workable, and it stays that way for a good long time). Itís the blackened tawny brown thread that gives the fly its body color. Wind the thread back towards the bend until the blackened thread begins to wrap. Then, wind it forward to a point one eye width back from the eye. Youíll notice the color change immediately when it starts to wrap on the hook.



    4. Reverse the thread and wind it back towards the bend; to a point midway between the eye and the bend.



    5. Next prep a Starling hackle. To do this, take one of the iridescent green hackles from the shoulder of either wing. Pull off the fuzz at the bottom until you get to the green barbs. Then, put the cream tip of the hackle in your hackle pliers and pull the exposed barbs back away from the tip. Next, hold the hackle in your left hand (pinching the barbs to hold them in place), remove the hackle pliers and cut the tip of the hackle off flat; leaving an inverted pyramid ďanchorĒ at the tip of the fly. Tip tie in the hackle on the top of the hook at the anchor point. Then wrap the thread forward up to a point one eye width back from the eye.



    6. Now, take the hackle stem and put your hackle pliers on it. Twist the hackle 5 full turns, being careful not to break the hackle in the process, since Starling rachis (stem) is very thin and fragile before itís wound onto the hook. The twisted hackle causes the barbs to splay apart from each other and gives you a structure that looks like an inverted Christmas tree. This is the key step in the pattern; the splayed barbs give the fly its motion in the water. If they stick together on you during the twisting process, then separate them with the tip of a needle.



    7. Palmer wind the hackle up towards the eye; pulling the barbs back towards the bend as you wind. Three wraps should do it. Tie off the hackle stem just behind the eye and clip off the waste end.



    8. Finish off the head with non-waxed tying thread (you have to be careful how much thread you wax) and coat with head cement; I use SHHAN. Hereís the finished fly:



    9. You can also twist the hackle an additional half turn on your last wind. If you do, youíll send the last wind of barbs forward towards the front, which some people like better:



    And thatís it; Stewartís Black Spider.

    This pattern can also be tied up as Stewartís Red Spider and as Stewartís Dun Spider, but nowadays those two variations are not often seen.

    Have fun fishing it!


    Pocono

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Stewart's Black Spider

    Great fly. Love the spider/northcountry/soft hackle flies...so much fun to fish!
    Gary

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Stewart's Black Spider

    Nice!
    I got a kick from "cobblers wax" in the recipe. That must have been the thing in 1857.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Stewart's Black Spider

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmie View Post
    Nice!
    I got a kick from "cobblers wax" in the recipe. That must have been the thing in 1857.
    Gary, I like the spider/north country patterns, too. They're fun to fish.

    Jimmie, I think that's right.

    There's another winged wet fly from that same (roughly) time period, called the Greenwell's Glory. The body on that fly is Pearsall's primrose (light yellow) gossamer silk, coated with black Cobbler's wax. So, the theme seems to be there.

    Perhaps interestingly, Greenwell's hen was a furnace hackle strain; apparently very rare in those days. Because of that, Greenwell was about the only one who could tie up the pattern; or at least that's how one story goes.

    I think that the wax gives the thread a more "natural" look; in the case of the GG pattern, a yellow/gray-green color; in the case of SBS, more of a dark gray/brown color.

    Anyway, it works on the stream!

    Pocono

  5. #5

    Default Re: Stewart's Black Spider

    Pocono, looks like a real good fish getter to me.
    As long as I get a bite, I don't want to leave!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Stewart's Black Spider

    Pocono,

    You have forced me to order a starling skin.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Stewart's Black Spider

    Hey there Allan,

    Just found this, and it looks for a good case of simple & effective eh. As always a great SBS and photos, thank you for doing all of this for us,

    Ard

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

  8. #8

    Default Re: Stewart's Black Spider

    Allen

    Another well done and perfectly described tying lesson. Interestingly I have been tying a wet fly quite similar to this and your post gives me some ideas where I may improve upon mine.

    Thank You

    Dave
    I was going fly fishing until my wife suggested it, now I can't tell who is outsmarting who!

    Being "one with nature" requires a knowledge of what animals are living nearby and a weapon of sufficient magnitude to give you at minimum an equal chance of survival. No one has an invisible aura that animals can detect and sense your good intentions.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Stewart's Black Spider

    Allan another great tying lesson and a very nice fly....you're a master

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Stewart's Black Spider

    Quote Originally Posted by mudbug View Post
    Pocono,

    You have forced me to order a starling skin.
    Well, MB, at least it won't break the bank on you. Not many tyers use Starling nowadays, so they're plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

    Besides the iridescent green shoulder hackles, there are a lot of other hackles on the skin that can be used for collars and for wings. One skin will keep you going for a good long time.

    Another good skin to have is a male ringneck pheasant..........................

    Thanks, J-P, but I know I'll always be a student. By the way, I've got a new spin on the Batistou Special; I'll try to get a few tied up when I get back from the Poconos (going back for a week; starting tomorrow - yes, fishing freestone streams is on my agenda!)

    Pocono

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