Return of the Black Spider

fishing spiders, flymphs & nymphs – Black Spider

at last – a fishing trip!

Well, it has been some time since I’d wet a line, not fishing at all during 2020! This was of course due to the Covid situation and needing to be extra careful about contracting it or passing it on to family members. However, I felt the time was now right for me to finally make a return to my much loved and missed flyfishing.

In many ways the return to flyfishing was to herald a number of firsts and a great sense of mental ‘newness’, not to mention a touch of trepidation. I’d purchased a new line prior to lockdown, thinking I would use it during the 2020 season. How would I get on with my new Barrio SLX WF line? I thought it would be a useful addition, allowing me to facilitate casting where the backcast is restricted and limited space-wise. How would my casting be after my long flyfishing hiatus? I would more than likely need to adjust my timing on the cast with the new line too. I’d also purchased a new reel, nothing spectacular, but it seemed to suit the rod well enough. And what about that flyfishing instinct; would it still be as sharp, or even present at all?

Well, the Barrio SLX was a dream to cast and I found myself able to get a reasonable line out where the backcast was restricted and it coped with casting into the wind very well. I liked casting the SLX and seemed to get on with it. The casting wasn’t too bad at all. One thing did stand out, and that was no dropper tangles; except for the dropper wrapping around the leader on one occasion. Whether this was due to the SLX line itself or some other factor, I really can’t say. The reel was perfectly fine too, doing what it was is supposed to do without any fuss, and yes, it did seem like the old flyfishing instinct was intact.

Not surprisingly perhaps, I was up early to get my season off to a start, and I was at the club water around 0800, early perhaps for this time of year, but I just wanted to be fishing again. It was a grey, drizzly, overcast and cool morning with the wind veering round from the east to the southeast-south-southwest-west. Looking around, very little was hatching; perhaps the odd tiny buzzer and they would, as it transpired, be joined later by an mere olive or two. What flies to begin with? I opted for one of my go to flies; the simple Black Spider on the point. With a Claret Bumble on the dropper, I was ready for my first cast. The cast went well and I was happy with the new flyline and subsequent casts it produced.

After a while fishing, a coffee break and a wee think, I switched the dropper to a Grey Monkey spider/flymph pattern that I find can do quite well early season. I left the black spider on the point as I have real confidence in this fly. I persevered and fished on, despite the lack of fly life; and then a fish moved far beyond casting range. The spot I had, had what you could describe as a perfect ripple for the nymph angler, with the ripple moving gently from left to right and creating a nice, gentle curve in the line, lifting the flies in the water. A while later and another fished moved at the surface, only this time a bit closer, still too far to reach, but they were becoming more active and beginning to feed, always encouraging to see. Then, an angler fishing off the dam netted a fish. At least they were now coming into range! And then it happened. The flies were drifting on that perfect ripple, and there; a fish! It felt like quite a strong fish, and I had one moment of real concern as it turned and swam at speed directly towards me, creating a bit more slack in the line than I wanted! As it neared the bank it spotted the landing net and took off almost parallel to the bank, stripping line from me as it did so. But second time over the net, saw it slip into the folds of the net, and I’d caught my first trout of the season. The barbless Black Spider dropped out in the net, so all that remained was to return the fish. It measured 41cm, and was quite chunky, so I would think it weighed around 1.5lb perhaps a bit more. The fish also had scarring down either flank, just behind the head area, which I put down to it evading the osprey there. Although the Black Spider was taken by the fish, I wonder if the Grey Monkey had had a role in the capture; did it tempt the fish up in water only for it to take the Black Spider? Had the fish decided to have both flies and decided to have the Black Spider first? - soft hackle wet fly - Grey Monkey
Grey Monkey

All in all, a fantastic day out, with one fish as a bonus too. And it was reassuring in a funny way, that despite the newness of it all, some things do stay the same; the effectiveness of a little Black Spider!

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