December Tutorial - The Fake Quill Spider by Allan Liddle

This month PRO-Team member Allan talks us through the 

Simple spider patterns are as old as the hills and still as effective today than they were way back in the days of horse hair or gut ‘casts’, silk lines and solid ‘Greenheart’ or split cane rods.

Imitating a host of waterborne species and the odd drowned terrestrial for good measure, this style of tying has certainly stood the test of time and, without doubt will continue to do so.  From a wee drift or swing presentation on our rivers and streams, to a slow retrieve or dead drift with the breeze on our lochs and still waters, countless fish have fell to the charms of a ‘wee spider’ that are as simple to fish as they are to tie.

I enjoy fishing spiders; although I admit I tend to do this more on running water than still, I also enjoy tying them with one or two appearing in Partridge of Redditch demonstrations and publications in the past.

This time I’m showing off another of these with the added attraction of it being a good way to demonstrate a wee substitution to using a stripped quill for the body and how to get the best out of oversized hackles hence the name; the ‘Fake Quill Spider’.

Having done ok when pressed into service this year in waters as diverse as the mighty River Tummel in Perthshire and the meandering lower sections of Aberdeenshire’s River Don, this wee fly is certainly worthy of a mention as well as a place in the corners of any trout anglers fly box.


Hook; Partridge Spider or SLD2 size 12 – 18

Thread; Grey Uni 6/0 or 8/0 depending on fly size

Rib; Black Uni 6/0 or 8/0 depending on fly size

Hackle; Natural speckled grey hen (Chevron Hackles) or Natural Partridge

UV Varnish; Bug Bond Lite (Veniards)


Tying Sequence:

Step 1 Catch in grey tying thread and black thread rib.

Step 2 Run thread down hook to a point just short of the bend tying in rib all the way.

Step 3 Form body with the thread.

Step 4 Rib with black thread in even turns.

Step 5 Take small amount of UV varnish.

Step 6 Apply UV varnish to body of the fly evenly taking care not to let it run.

Step 7 Set UV varnish, apply second light coat if required.

Step 8 Take a very sparse pinch of Olive Glister and dub onto thread.

Step 9 Form a very small thorax using Olive Glister.

Step 10 Take a small amount of fibres from the hackle feather, set length to about three quarter the body length and carefully 'roll' them around the fly.

Step 11 Secure the hackle and then trim ends before tidying up with tying thread. Note the hackle will 'sit up' due to the small 'bump' formed by tying in the Glister thorax.

Finished Fly