Availability of Spider Materials Today

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Roadkill
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by Roadkill » Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:18 am

Just learn to make woven hair hackles like Pott and Grant or go with synthetic Organza hackles. ;) :shock: :lol:
ronr
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by ronr » Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:36 am

Gentlemen.. for someone relatively new to tying wingless wets, these discussions are extremely helpful. From your comments I've learned of several substitutes that I would not know of otherwise. Though far from being a traditionalist in my tying and fishing, I recognize the value of finding a skin with a decent number of feathers for tying the small sizes that I find useful around my neighborhood. I've started buying every decent looking partridge I can find. I am finding that I can get good use from Mallard wings, and starling, and a few hen necks. So glad to have found the excellent tips on using oversized feathers located on the forum. Thank you to you guys who share the sources for good materials, naturals, and substitutes.
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Old Hat
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by Old Hat » Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:36 am

As far as the observations on the increase in synthetic use. I believe it is a sad commentary on the direction of our culture as a whole and in our sport in regards to the natural world and will simply quote Darrel Martin and what I believe we have begun de-emphasize in our sport.

"In a way, tying is routing. Tying extends our understanding of nature. We seek the perfect pattern, even if the perfect pattern never exists. It matters only that we seek. We seek the perfect feather, the perfect method, the perfect theory. To the thoughtful tyer, it is the quest and not the pattern that matters. And in the search, fragments of fur and feather continuously transform into a new alchemy. Part of the pleasure of tying is discovery. So, we finally net more than trout. we net knowing the spotted Callibeatis, the underfur of the muskrat, the scarlet flank of a rainbow and the peent of whispering nighthawks."

Darrel Martin in The Art of the Trout Fly by Judith Dunham, 1988.
I hate it when I think I'm buying organic vegetables, and when I get home I discover they are just regular donuts.
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upstatetrout
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by upstatetrout » Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:41 am

I agree the procurement of quality materials is getting tough but it always was and will be so. Wings like these will never be genetically developed. Golden Plover. If you find them buy them. But I don't buy fluorescent plaid fishing shirts with hidden pockets or trout spey rods(2 handed rods to catch 10 inch fish) as I find them garrishly expensive.

Tom..
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"We argue to see who is right but we discuss to see what is right"
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swellcat
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by swellcat » Thu Apr 04, 2019 10:12 am

I doubt the Pritt and Skues of tradition just walked into a fly shop and purchased whatever they wanted at the time or ordered over the internet from countries afar.

Yet, somehow, they were still able to tie great flies?

Hmm.
Greenwell
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by Greenwell » Thu Apr 04, 2019 10:29 am

Roadkill wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:18 am
Just learn to make woven hair hackles like Pott and Grant or go with synthetic Organza hackles. ;) :shock: :lol:
I'd take up knitting before I did that!
daringduffer
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by daringduffer » Thu Apr 04, 2019 10:40 am

Next hot fly? Knitted Killer Bug.

dd
wsbailey
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials To

Post by wsbailey » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:06 am

I don’t know this first hand but it is my understanding that many of the birds used in fly tying were available whole at food markets in England in the past. I get this impression from writers such as Skues. Certainly many of those who fished also hunted or knew hunters. There are also the birds that were at one time considered to be vermin like starlings and were freely shot. One example is the red kite that was nearly hunted to extinction. Modern farming methods have taken their toll on birds such as corncrakes. Mink escaped from fur farms and decimated the water vole population but there is an ongoing effort to restore them where they can thrive. In the US we have many fur bearing animals with great hair and fur that are barely used in fly tying. A nuisance trapper might be a good source for animals that are considered to be pests. One example is meadow voles. Leisenring mentioned them in his book. Maybe he could no longer get water voles from England just as with corncrakes and dotterel. If substitutes worked for Leisenring they should work for others.
Greenwell
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by Greenwell » Thu Apr 04, 2019 11:15 am

Old Hat wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 9:17 am
I doubt the Pritt and Skues of tradition just walked into a fly shop and purchased whatever they wanted at the time or ordered over the internet from countries afar.
Hat, You couldn't be more correct in your statement. One of the things I find so compelling about Spiders and one of the points I make in my presentations is that the tradition of dressing them, and in reality all angling flies before the advent of the commercial availability of materials, is that, with the exception of silk and hooks, one had to procure one's own materials . And when you go way back, one made one's own hooks as well. In The Book of St. Albans there are instructions for making hooks as at that time, 1486, an angler had to make every part of his tackle.

Fly dressers looked to the fields and folds, woods and hedges, barnyards and pastures for their materials and gathered what they needed. People lived much closer to nature then and had much more knowledge and recognition of individual species. Almost every bird even remotely edible might end up as table fare and their feathers were used if the colors and textures were suitable. Poultry and game markets were an extremely important source of feathers from both domestic and wild birds right into the 20th century. In Henry Walbran Cooper's obituary there is a description of him taking the train to the game-dealers' shops in Harrogate and then plucking the feathers from the birds on his way home in the rail car.
This tradition is as true in early American fly dressing as it was in Pritt's time. In fact, one of the things I find so compelling about the Catskill tradition is that a fly tyer could find most everything to dress these very sophisticated dry flies right outside his back door. I just made a page in the Materials Book of traditional Catskill materials and here is the text from that page:

"The fly dressing tradition begun by Theodore Gordon soon evolved into what came to be known as the “Catskill School of Fly Tying” and was exemplified by fly tiers such as Herman Christian, Roy Steenrod, Rube Cross, Harry and Elsie Darbee, and Walt and Winnie Dette. In order to be effective on the pool and riffle Mountain Rivers, sparsely dressed Catskill Style dry flies relied on high quality components, especially hackle, and most of the palate of materials used in their construction was sourced locally. Farmyards supplied poultry hackles, and the region’s forests and fields contributed Wood Duck and Mallard feathers, along with Fox, Muskrat, and Rabbit fur. Aside from having to purchase light wire dry fly hooks, often from Allcock & Co. or Ray Bergman, tying silk, and perhaps some Peacock feathers from the local Dry Goods store, with a little effort a Catskill fly tier could provide himself with all the materials needed to produce these delicate and deadly dry flies."

Finding substitutes is as old as fly dressing. Take the near legendary Dotterel feather for instance. Fly dressers were substituting the inside wing feathers of the starling in the 19th century and it is said that Dotterel even then was so rare that Skues, perhaps the most "connected" angler of his day, only ever owned a single pair of wings. The search for a good substitute is still going on and the topic has cropped on the pages of the Flymph Forum from time to time.

Perhaps in some ways we are in a new era of finding and gathering materials ourselves. As the traditional materials dry up we are forced to find other alternatives in our own "backyards" whether in actuality or on the "backyard" of the internet. Aren't materials a fascinating subject?
wsbailey
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by wsbailey » Thu Apr 04, 2019 12:17 pm

Gary Borger book "Designing Trout Flies" has a section detailing the colors of feathers on a number different game birds. He has diagrams showing the locations where you can find the various feathers on a bird. One downside is the colors are keyed to the "Borger Color System". Years ago I asked Gary where I could get the book. He gave me a lead to a fly shop and I got their last copy. A dedicated online search might turn up a copy. The color descriptions are usually sufficient though.
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