MARCH: The Partridge and Orange

The American term is Soft Hackle but we know these flies as Spiders, often referred to as North Country Spiders. If you look you will find a number of patterns for this simplest of flies. here we feature a couple of options.


Follow this link to watch Davie McPhail tying the fly on YouTube.

He has a very relaxed style of presenting his videos which are easy to follow and learn from.


as an alternative here we have Jack Gartside’s pattern and tying instructions:

Tying the The Partridge & Olive

Hook: Daiichi 1150, 1550, Mustad 8100BR, Tiemco 3769, or any hook that you prefer, sizes 10-18
Thread: 6/0 Olive or size A flat nylon
Body: Olive thread or size A flat nylon
Ribbing: Gold wire, optional
Thorax: Hare’s Ear or gray squirrel blend
Hackle: Hungarian Partridge
Head: Hare’s Ear or gray squirrel blend

step 1

Step 1   Wrap thread from just behind head to slightly around the bend of the hook and then back over the shank to a point approximately 1/4 shank length back from the eye. If ribbing is used, tie it in at the bend of the hook and then wind thread forward, trimming the excess at the point where you wind on your thorax.

step 2

Step 2  Dub onto thread a small amount of fur and wind over shank to form a thorax.

step 3

Step 3  Strip downy fibers from stem and tie in partridge feather (concave side down) on top of hook shank and trim excess. Length of hackle may vary from long to short (your choice) but I prefer the tips on most flies to extend slightly beyond the bend of the hook.

If you want a “fluffier,” softer-hackled fly, strip the feather stem so that some of the downier barbs remain and are tied in with the first turn of the feather. Also, do not discard the aftershaft feather this is an exceptionally useful feather for tying smaller soft-hackle flies such as the Aftershaft Soft-Hackle Wet Fly

step 4

Step 4 Wind partridge feather around hook (one turn or at most, two–the fly is best dressed sparsely.) Trim excess and form neat thread head.

step 5

Step 5 This step may be omitted but it’s how I prefer to tie many of my soft-hackle flies, with a small amount of dubbing tightly wrapped just in front of the hackle to form a small head. Makes the fly look “buggier,” I think.

Fishing the Partridge and Orange Spider.

As a young lad I first learned to fish this fly “down and across.” Simply casting the fly at a downward angle across the river, allowing it to drift around in the flow and often finding takes at the end of the swing as the fly rises with the natural straightening of the line.

Casting upstream is great option which can be very productive, just using a short upstream cast and allowing the fly to dead-drift just beneath the surface, perhaps with a lift of the line to induce a take.

Fish the fly singly or as part of a team of perhaps three spiders. Some advise to team up three versions or different sizes of the same spider, or alternatively in a mixed team of spiders experimenting with the Partridge and Orange on top dropper, middle or point.

If you’re new to buying flies please remember to choose flies which are dressed to attract fish, not to attract the angler, our friends at Anglers’ Lodge will keep you right. 

Whether you tie your own or want to buy them this club has a great relationship with The Anglers’ Lodge at Jubilee Lakes where you will find a great selection of materials and flies and can enjoy a small discount when you show your W&DAC membership book.

Enjoy fishing the Partridge and Orange.