Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Classic North of England Spiders #4: Orange Partridge

No introductions required here! Nearly everyone who has ever held a fly rod has heard of this famous fly and rightly so - it's a killer. Having said that, I think it has to be classed as the spider which is most often badly tied; how many times have you seen this one in the fly section of your local tackle shop, lurking about with the rest of the over-dressed wet flies and sporting a horrible, fat, floss body and far too many turns of hackle?! It often turns up tied with a wire rib too, which although some north country anglers will defend, I think ruins the whispiness of the basic pattern. So once again, the watchwords are - this is getting repetetive now - slimness and sparseness.

The hackle is taken from the neck of the grey partridge - preferably the male bird. Unfortunately there is no shortcut to this: you need to take the plunge and buy a full skin as the packets of hackles often seen in tackle shops just don't contain enough of the little spoon shaped feathers you need. To tie this spider in sizes 14, 16 and 18, the feathers required are the ones right off the back of the bird's head and neck. By the time we are down between the 'shoulders', we are in stillwater wet fly territory and not much use for spiders at all. So get yourself a full male partridge skin - it'll set you back about 20 quid and will last a hell of a long time. Steve Cooper at Cookshill does first rate skins for anyone interested.....

Some tyers like to wax the silk on this pattern. As usual, lazy bones here doesn't bother - I find the absorbtion of water darkens the silk to my liking, giving that nice sherry-orange hue which seems to make the pattern so effective. It would be obvious to suggest therefore, that the orange partridge was designed to imitate the spinner stage of the blue-winged olive and similar; but I'm sure it has much broader appeal and could well be taken for the pupal stage of amber/brown coloured caddis, small terrestrials and such-like. Either way, its effectiveness as a summer fly cannot be denied and it rightly remains the most famous of our north country spiders.

Orange Partridge.
Hook: Mustad R50 14,16,18
Silk: Pearsalls orange
Hackle: Male grey partridge neck feather


Tying notes:
As previous posts, plus see above notes regarding hackle choice.


Jim Anderson said...

Oh, yes. Works like a charm over here.
Care to comment on the proper Pearsall's "orange" to use - hot orange, 6B or 6A (if it is available)? Does it matter? - not much, I think.
Best, Jim

Matthew Eastham said...

19 or 6A Jim.

To be correct, 6A should be used....but I kind of like the mahoghany brown colour of the 19 when wet. Don't think it matters too much really.