Published May 23. 2007 - 14 years ago
Updated or edited Aug 8. 2015

Flies for big browns


Something a bit different this time.
I have added a new section to the West Country Wets.
It is of H. C. Cutcliffe's flies (1863). They have the use of cock hackles in common with the later Devon & West Country flies,
but they are much larger, size 6 and 7 hooks, and brighter.
I have tied some up as close as I could get to his original recipes, although I used size 8 sproat wet fly hooks, they were the largest I had.
They were intended for fast water in bright conditions, I also dressed some experimental versions, trying to keep with his ideas.
The Sea-run Cutthroat and Steelhead anglers have shown some interest.

Morten2's picture

Love those north country...

Love those north country spiders, they even fish great in slow motion danish streams. Give me some north country spiders, and I will never starve ;).

In my opinion the north country spiders never got the popularity world wide they deserved.



DonaldN's picture

Morten, as you have no doubt...

Morten, as you have no doubt noticed, I am rather keen on them myself.
One small point, The West Country Wets are, strictly speaking, South Country Wets.
They are not very well known outside the West Country, that is the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset etc. There is rather a limited literature about them.
Although quite a few of the 20th c. patterns are used as dry flies in many parts of the UK.
The Half Stone and its variations is probably the best known. In the mid 20th c. upright winged dry flies became less popular and 'spider' cock hackles were more used in the UK and so quite a few of the West Country Wets were used as dries.
For anyone else who is interested, here is a picture of a Half Stone, which I tied on a modern size 14 dry fly hook.

p.s I liked your sea trout fly, it has affinities with W. H. Lawries 'All-fur Flies', a book I can highly recommend.

Morten2's picture



I had and old Danish book once, by a guy called Poul Friss. It had a lot of spider patterns as Dry flies in it, all tied with a hackle twice as long as the shank and no tail?

The picture of "your" half stone is with a short hackle, is that particular to that pattern, or was it the style of all spider dries??


DonaldN's picture

Hi Morten,...

Hi Morten,
That was a poor example, the short hackle was what I had at the time.
Here are some better -



As you can see they have quite long hackles, especially the Devonshire Doctor.
They were, and still are, used on the streams of Exmoor and Dartmoor as wet and dry flies.
If you have a look on my site at the earlier 19thc Cutcliffe wet flies, which they derived from,
you will see that large cock hackles were popular then.
There are no illustrations of Cutcliffes' flies, so I had to base my dressing of them on his text.

Here is my site address
Have a look under - Devon & West Country Flies - 19th Century - 20th Century.


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