Availability of Spider Materials Today

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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by Trevis » Wed Aug 28, 2019 6:42 am

Do you think that if nylon thread was invented in, say 1880, that Leisenring would have used it?
I have always thought that the tyers of wet flies were pragmatists, using the feathers from their supper (or the laird's supper) and thread filched from the sewing basket. I have imagined that if they had had barred rock hens two hundred years ago that most wet flies would be tied with grizzly hen. I believe they used silk because that was all they had or could get.
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by Theroe » Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:33 am

I’m from the “they used what they had” school..... nylon was new at the time, similar to how Kevlar thread was in the 80s, and how the Dynema threads were in the 90s. I have nylon thread dating to the 1940s from Herters and E Hille. Also Ed Koch and the anglers roost marketed their own brands of nylon thread through the 1960s and 70s.... it was most probably more expensive, and the newfangled thing, so they stuck with Silk. I prefer Silk because it grips and wraps better plus it has a special translucent sheen - all IMHO, of course!!

Soft and wet - the only way....
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by Mike62 » Thu Aug 29, 2019 5:32 pm

I'm still filching antique silks from my late grandmother's sewing kit. So much history in silks, so much fun to use; silks can be interrogative partners in tying while today's threads are just inert ballast.

...I blame you people for my rediscovered passion.
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by bearbutt » Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:38 am

narcodog wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:39 am
I was at the Sow Bug Roundup last week and stood over Shaners shoulder while he and Davy Wooton looked at John's book of materials. To say it was awe inspiring is an understatement.

This sounds great! John, do you think you could share with us a few photos of your materials booK? I'd love to see how it's set up, how the materials are attached, and so on.

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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by Trevis » Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:13 pm

See, now I'm sorry that I found this forum. I'm 69 and have never actually seen or touched Pearsalls silk thread (or any silk thread); til now never felt there was any need to. Must be reasons that they quit using it? Now I find that I have 'missed the boat'. For over forty years I thought I was tying and fishing "flymphs" and "spiders". Now I know that I have only been using wet flies, because the shops I dealt with sold only nylon and spiders or flymphs must be silk. Using Ruffed Grouse in place of partridge is likely forbidden too, but it is what I had and have and it catches fish. To this day I've never used a Hungarian feather, they still don't live in my woods or the American prairies. I do have Prairie Chicken a son in law shot.
I grew up wearing home made clothes and my mother nor none of her friends nor relatives used any silk; perhaps they did before the War (when Hidy was writing the book) but there weren't any leftovers that I recall in the '50s. Those gals used their thread. So, from that standpoint silk is no harder to find than it ever was , in fact I believe Joann's sells some silk thread, they were not around here even 20 years ago, so that makes that brand silk more obtainable. The ladies used cotton for all purpose thread and Rayon acetate for fancy embroidery work. Cotton thread is about as hard to find now as silk.
With the 1934 invention of nylon and introduction of it to the public at the 1937 Worlds Fair as silk substitute used in stockings and the 1941 publication of the book, I doubt that Hidy or Leisenring had ever used nylon thread and maybe had never heard of it at the time the book was being written. I'm not even certain that nylon was available as thread before the War. I guess at that time it may still have been called "fiber-66".
It is wonderful to use the same materials that the author of a pattern did if they are readily and easily obtainable and I get that. I don't understand obsession with obtaining unusual or very rare materials just because someone used them when they were readily available, or in a far away place. How many of us use horse tail lines and gut leaders or Greenheart fly rods?
I don't think the hero wet fly tyers of old went out of their way any further than the local meat market to obtain feathers. I wonder if spending great time and money in pursuit of materials isn't backwards to the idea of simple flies they espoused?
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by BrkTrt » Fri Aug 30, 2019 6:25 pm

Well said....

I wonder if spending great time and money in pursuit of materials isn't backwards to the idea of simple flies they espoused?

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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by wsbailey » Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:29 pm

Leisenring based many of his flies on British flies. Many are direct copies. In the UK, silk thread continued to be the first choice of fly tyers until relatively recently. The US is the leader in synthetic materials.
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by joaniebo » Sat Aug 31, 2019 10:53 am

I don’t often read every posting with a subject, but today, I did read all in this subject.

In the mid to late 1990s, I began to take an interest in fly-fishing. Bought a few graphite rods and reels to match the rods, mostly from Orvis. Bought flies, mostly dries and nymphs, from local fly fishing stores. But it didn’t take long before I became interested in bamboo fly rods and bought a couple old bamboo rods on eBay to cast and / or try my hand at refinishing them.

Decided to try my hand at assembling bamboo rods from blanks and found a fellow in France who had a huge stock of Partridge-of-Redditch rod blanks. Ordered a few from him and also, directly from Partridge.

Once hooked on bamboo fly rods made from English rod blanks, It didn’t take long to get interested in tying my own flies, which quickly turned towards tying the old English dressings. To me, searching for the old materials, including hackles, silks, flosses, books, etc. soon took hold, then and continues to this day!

After buying some bamboo rod blanks from a well-known US bamboo rod builder, I was introduced to Alec Jackson who was then the North American importer of Pearsall silks. Needless to say, I was able to buy just about anything that Pearsall made and that Alec imported into the US and have enough to last me awhile.

Then, luckily, I made contact via a bamboo rod forum with fellows in the US, England and Germany who helped me obtain MANY of the materials used in the North Country dressings. Many of the materials I obtained came from Ellis Slater, who I believe was one fantastic source for the old dressing materials and substitutes like dyed starling / snipe subs for Dotterel, Crow, Landrail, etc. Since Ellis Slater passed away, my go-to source for North County materials has been Steve Cooper at Cookshill.

Several fellows, including some on this Forum, generously sent me other materials that I was seeking. A fellow in the UK sent me (probably 50+ packages of) various hackles showing the colors / textures of many hackles. The same fellow also sent me samples of Tups dubbings from his father’s and grandfather’s stash of materials, one labeled “Circa 1950s” and the other labeled “Circa 1910". I use these dubbing samples to match the color and texture of the old Tups dubbing when I mix my own.

I try to put together as many of the old dressings as possible, or variations thereof, with as many of the old materials as possible, whether I fish the finished flies, or not. I give away quite a few of my flies to people at my local Trout Unlimited Chapter and do occasional tying sessions of the old dressings over the winter months, which has made quite a few of my TU friends take up the joys of tying and fishing soft hackled flies. It’s also gave Steve Cooper a few more customers!

Without the assistance and generosity of fellow fly dressers on this, and other Forums, I would have found it very difficult to obtain the materials and information that I now have.

To all of you, I say THANK YOU!
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by hankaye » Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:18 am

Howdy All;

Just surfing through the offered news articles by the Browser and came across this,
https://news.yahoo.com/would-killing-se ... 25148.html

Striving for a less complicated life since 1949...
"Every day I beat my own previous record for number
of consecutive days I've stayed alive." George Carlin
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Re: Availability of Spider Materials Today

Post by joaniebo » Sun Sep 01, 2019 10:08 am


I've read several other articles over the years that also state that the seal populations are growing larger and moving southward down the Atlantic coast. The sharks are simply following their food source and, additionally, some people feel that sharks might be mistaking humans for seals.

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