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North Country Wet Fly Patterns

Commonly known as

North Country Spiders

  Some of these patterns date back over 400 years, the Partridge and Orange can be traced back even further.

The North Country Spider History          Description of a North Country Spider      Books you should read online    

Learn how to fish the spiders    Traditional North Country Spider leader set-up

Fishing a team of spiders without droppers - Video     Yorkshire Rivers

Click here to view our monthly articles in the Yorkshire Post's Country Week Magazine

Which spiders?  When?  Click Here

© 2020 Stephen Cheetham

 Click on thumbnail to enlarge

Partridge and orange


Snipe and Purple


Waterhen Bloa


March Brown


Hares Lug and Plover - Gold Tag  HL5






Hares Lug and Plover


Partridge and Yellow     


Little Dark Watchett


     Williams      Favourite     


Winter Brown






Light Spanish Needle


Dark Moor Game, North Country Spiders


Snipe Bloa

Light Spanish Needle




Dark Moor Game




Snipe Bloa



Dark Bloa

Cowdung Fly

Dark Spanish Needle

Old Master

Smoke Fly

Dark Bloa


Cowdung Fly


Dark Spanish Needle


Old Master


Smoke Fly


March Brown Nymph


Drop Fly

Scothcher 1800  DF22

Dun Drake

     Bainbridge 1816       DD23

Brown Watchet

Turton 1836 BW24

Black Gnat

Turton 1836 BG25

Orl Fly

     Turton 1836      OF26

Yellow Spider

   Turton 1836     YS27

Red Spider

       Turton 1836        RS28

Whirling Blue

Turton 1836    WB29

Hawthorne Fly

Turton 1836 HF30

Purple Midge

      Turton 1836        PM31

Orange Dun

  Turton 1836    OD32

Red Palmer

    Turton 1836        RP33

Iron Blue

    Turton 1836      IB34

Green Tail

Turton 1836 GT35


Stewarts Spiders Circa 1857

London Spider

      Pulman 1840        LS36

Jenny Spinner

Romalds 1856   JS37

Oak Fly

    Rombalds 1856     OF38

Black Spider

   Stewart 1857     BS39

Dun Spider

Stewart 1857 DS40

Red Spider

       Stewart 1857         RS41

August Brown

Walbran 1885  AB42

Kilnsey Black Magic


Smoke Fly

   Walbran 1885   SF44

Blue Bottle

Walbran 1885 BB45

Brown Owl


Prismire (Ant)

1823    PA47

Prismire (Ant)

1823    PA48

March Brown

1933     MB49

March Brown Winged

1933     MB50

Thorax Spider

Paul Proctor 2004 TS51

Greenwells Spider




Dark Bloa


Spring Black


Moorgame  and Orange


Snipe and Yellow


Olive Bloa


Partridge and Blue




Light Bloa


Dark Orange Bloa


Dark Purple Bloa


Grey Drake

Bowker 1750  GD64

February Red


Sandy Moor Game

SMG 66

Snipe and Orange


Poult Bloa


Hawthorne Fly


Red Palmer


Soft Hackle Flies Stewarts Spiders Circa 1857 Broughtons Point
Little Black




Olive Bloa


Stewarts Spider

BS39     Circa 1857 

Broughton's Point


More will be posted soon        

Yorkshire Post Fly Fishing Articles

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North Country Spiders


        Wharfe North Country Spiders (Lister) Bolton Abbey          
Name Jan Feb March April May June July August Sept Oct Nov Dec Imitates Hook
Winter Brown                         Stonefly 14
Waterhen Bloa                         Dark Olives 14
Spring Black                         Midges 14
Moorgame & Orange                         Stonefly 14
March Brown                         March Brown 12
Red Spinner                       Olives 14
Olive Bloa                         Olives 14
Partridge & Orange                         Stonefly/Olive 14
Cowdung Fly                         Beetle 14
Poult Bloa                         Pale Watery 14
Grey Midge                         Midges 16
Dark Spanish Needle                         Stonefly 14/16
Light Spanish Needle                         Stonefly 16
Snipe & Yellow                         Olives 16
Green Tail                         Grammon 14
Alder Fly (Hunchback)                       Alder Fly 14
Snipe & Purple                         Olives 14/16
Partridge & Blue                         Olives 14/16
Light Bloa                         Pale Watery 14/16
Green Fly                         Lacewing 16/18
Dark Watchett                         Iron Blue 16
Light Watchett                         Olives 16
Partridge & Yellow                         Olives 14
Stone Midge                         Midges 16
Yellow Legs                         Primrose Dun 14
Light Partridge                         Primrose Spin 14
Knotted Midge                         Hawthorne 14/16
White Starling                         Anglers Curse 16
Green Drake                         Olives 12
Grey Drake                         Olives 12
Green Sleeves                         Green Bug 16
Cut Dawn Bloa                         Dark Olives 16
Fog Black                         Black Fly 16
Small Blue Bloa                         Little Blue 16
August Drake                         Dun/Sedge 14
Red Ant Fly                         Winged Ant 16
Brown Ant Fly                         Winged Ant 16
Red Palmer                         Beetle 14
Golden Palmer                         Caterpillar 14
Smoke Fly                         Buzzer 14

 Traditional North Country Spider leader set-up

North Country Spider leader set up

 Fishing a team of spiders without droppers

This video explains a method of tying spiders to leaders which dispenses with the need for droppers.


Old Fishing books

If you like old fishing books this should be interesting for you.

If the link takes you straight to the book – fine – click on a page to turn over.

Press F11 on your keyboard to read it full screen, press F11 again to go back to normal

If the link takes you to the download page you can download it as a PDF or click the FLIP BOOK and read it on line

A lot of these books cover coarse fishing methods too.

North Country Flies - T E Pritt 1886

The Practical Angler - W C Stewart 1907 (revised)

The Northern Angler - Mr John Kirkbride 1887

The Anglers Manual - John Turton - 1886


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North Country Spider Patterns

These flies do not represent spiders!

It is a name given to a group of flies that have a very soft, mobile feather wound around the head. This is called the hackle and undulates in the current, suggesting the movements of water borne creatures. Spider patterns are intended to fish below the surface of the water. For this reason they are members of the “wet fly” family. The body of the fly is often made of one or two layers of coloured thread. A spider pattern is, therefore, frequently named simply by referring to the colour of the body and the bird that donated the feather.  So, some of the best known spider patterns are partridge and orange, partridge and yellow, snipe and purple and woodcock and green. Just for extra fun, some of the spider patterns are called “Bloas”. Bloa is an old northern word that describes a slate - blue colour. Bloa patterns usually have a dull grey hackle, often found on the wing of a coot, waterhen or starling.

Many of the spider-type flies were devised in the Yorkshire Dales, mainly for fishing rivers and are frequently referred to as “North Country” patterns. The examples that we feature this month were all mentioned in a list, written by an angler called Sylvester Lister. In 1873 Sylvester was a founder member of what is now called the Appletreewick, Barden and Burnsall Angling club. He is buried at Bolton Abbey.

We have chosen three flies that will feature in many successful catches on our Dales rivers during April. Lister recommended all three and we are not intending to argue. They are the partridge and orange, snipe and purple and the waterhen bloa. They are usually dressed on hook, sizes 14 and 16. The partridge and orange is sometimes dressed at size 12. There is a whole tradition around the method of fishing with these, and other similar flies. Anyone interested in learning more about these methods, should read “Fly Fishing, The North Country Tradition” by Leslie Magee.

We could spend, and perhaps waste, an awful lot of time discussing what the flies represent. Some say that the partridge and orange is taken for an adult stone fly or the aquatic nymph of this and other species such as the up-wings. Others assert that the orange colour mimics a developing midge pupa. Snipe and purple is frequently reported to imitate the nymph or adult of a fly called the iron blue. Sadly, the iron blue is in serious decline; we rarely see it on our northern streams today. The snipe and purple, however continues to catch fish wherever it is employed. When the waterhen bloa is awash in the surface film, its straggly body and soft hackle writhe gently. It’s colour, size and behaviour suggest a member of the olive family struggling to hatch or indeed drowning in the process. It still takes fish when not a single fly is to be seen on the water.

After many years of careful research, scientific experimentation and empirical research we can however reveal the truth. Trout and grayling mistake these artificial flies for – FOOD.

The year 2007 sees the 150th anniversary of a well loved publication The Practical Angler by Mr. W. C. Stewart. During 1857 alone there were at least two reprints with the last full reprint complete with colour plates in 1958 - such was the popularity of his work.

W.C. Stewart, described as a “dour” Scot, held firm opinions on fly fishing and in particular the spider patterns and the methods of fishing them. He was a great advocate of the upstream method and seemed to be constantly in contention with other authors south of the border, to the point of being verbally aggressive at times, such was his belief.  He would also argue vehemently regarding the best colours for flies. Like Henry Ford, Stewart’s favourite colour appears to have been black, his argument being that, in water, a fly between the fish and the light above is in silhouette, therefore colours are indistinctive, his opinion being that the movement of the hackle (legs) of the fly is the attraction, and this seems to make a lot of sense! Stewart also fiercely maintains that the fly dresser could never truly imitate nature and that Man’s interpretation of what a fly should look like can never ever be truly attained and I quote “Those anglers  who think trout will take no fly unless it is an exact imitation of some one of the immense number of flies they are feeding on, must suppose that they know to a shade the colour of every fly on the water, and can detect the least deviation from it – an amount of entomological knowledge that would put to shame the angler himself and a good many naturalists to boot”. 

Although Stewart mentions his three “killing spiders” in chapter V, it is the black spider tied “Stewart style” that, even today, is one of the most loved flies by many. A fellow angler, James Baillie, introduced Mr Stewart to this pattern in the early 1850’s and it became his trusted favourite to the point where he says “We were first shown it by James Baillie, and have never been without it on our line ever since”.   Roger Beck & Stephen Cheetham


FEEDBACK received from a selection of our customers

"I received my flies through the post this morning and am delighted. The flies are great, and the care that has gone into the packaging of them is impressive. Thank you for the quick turn around and some (hopefully) irresistable flies"

"Flies arrived safely. Absolutely delighted with them. Be back in touch soon."

"Hi Steve Me Here again I have enjoyed fishing with spiders and would like to order more please .Your flies have fished the world from Scotland NZ and Australia, size 12 and 14"

"Hi, I recieved the files yesterday, thank you for the excellent service.  The flies look very good with short slim bodies and sparse hackles as good spiders should (I used to tie all my own flies until poor eyesight and a lack of time made me lazy with small flies). And with over 30 years experience of Salmon, Seatrout and Trout fishing I know these will do very well indeed. I believe you also tie fly's to customers own patterns?, if so I may ask for a couple of my own patterns."

"The flies arrived on Monday, Thank You very much for them, they look great! Can't believe I got them already, I guess the post office still works. Hopefully, I can catch some fish"

"These trout love the Griffiths Gnat!!  Please would you ask Steve to tie 10 x Griffiths Gnat size 18 only. They are proving very successful."

"Many thanks for the superb service. I have just returned from work and opened the classic fly collection. I'm thrilled to bits with it! I have neither the time or skill to tie my own flies but can't stand the over dressed patterns commercially available. Northern Spider patterns are really effective where I fish, in the beautiful surroundings at the top of the Tees (God's own river), but only when sparsely dressed. I can honestly say that this selection of flies, and the Partridge and Orange in particular, are the most cunningly dressed patterns I have seen! Each one is perfect, both in the length and profile of the whipping on the body to  the hackle length. It shows genuine care. I shall be a loyal customer from now on, although I don't fish anywhere near as much as I would like. I can't wait to get the chance to wet a line over the Easter Break (and wet my palette in the Langdon Beck Hotel!).  I rarely if ever correspond, either to moan or praise as I have a young family and busy job, however I feel that praise is really well deserved!"

"The flies I ordered from you arrived this morning. Many thanks for getting them to me so promptly.  All I can say is 'WOW!' what really fantastic flies they are, beautifully proportioned and lovingly tied. I been admiring them all day. Please find below an order for an additional 44 flies." - Paul Brown

Yorkshire Rivers by Ken Stokes.

Yorkshire Rivers by Ken Stokes

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