Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Small Dark Dun Spider

This dressing assigns claret thread since neilther John Kirkbride assigns a particular color to the thread in his Small Dark Dun, nor does Michael Theakston assigns any to his Little Freckled Dun (Some shade of orange would be most typical of Theakston's Ripon flies.)



Muskrat on claret Pearsall’s gossamer silk

Snipe covert

In The Northern Angler (1837), John Kirkbride describes the Small Dark Dun Spider as a fly best fished in “May and June, when made very fine,” and an “excellent killer in clear water.”  He dressed it as “a hackle-fly, made of a feather from the outside wing of the large snipe, with a body or water-rat’s fur.”

Michael Theakston likely catalogued the Small Dark Dun as the 45th fly in his List of Natural Flies (1843), the Little Freckled Dun. Despite the specificity of his descriptions, his colloquial nomenclature sometimes makes the task of tracing a pattern's emergence purely speculative. His Little Freckled Dun is "very like the Freckled Dun, but much smaller. Commence hatching with the month, and are out numerous most part of the day and in the evenings, through summer." Theakston recommends a dressing with "Wings, a rankly freckled feather from the snipe or judcock; tinged and legged with blue-dun fur." 

The Little-Dun that James Chetham lists under May in the second catalogue of "Dub-flies" that James Chetham included in the second edition (1700) of his Anglers Vade Mecum (1681) is likely an effort to represent a similar insect to Kirkbride's and might possibly be a precedent for his dressing. Chetham's fly is dressed why a "Dubbing of an Otters Fur, Dub'd with Ash-colored Silk, Wings of the Feather of a Shepstares Quill." 


  1. Neil
    The soft hackle pattern is becoming one of my main go to flies now, it will produce on days when nothing else will get the attention of the trout I fish for on the tailrace here. The Spider pattern you have tied is perfect to use when the trout are feeding just under the surface---great job at the bench!!

    1. Thanks much, Bill! I'm pleased to hear they are working well for you!