Partridge and Orange – An Old English North Country Spider Pattern

Partridge and orange wet fly - winged version.
Partridge and orange wet fly - winged version.

Partridge and Orange Wet Fly

Partridge and orange wet fly - winged version.
Partridge and orange wet fly – winged version.

The Partridge and Orange is a small soft hackle wet fly from the old country; England. This pattern has a long history – perhaps as long as flyfishing itself. It is truly one of the great wet fly patterns. This is an impressionistic pattern fished beneath the surface to represent sunken mayfly spinners, emerging caddis pupa, or diving adult caddis. It can, of course, imitate just about any drowning insect tramped beneath the surface with its soft hackles moving in the current to simulate the legs of an insect in trouble; suggesting food to a hungry trout!

On the subject of the winged version of the Partridge and Orange shown above, according to Norman Marsh in his wonderful book Norman Marsh’s Flybox, “heckled wets are generally the equal of winged versions but in fast water, I find the latter most successful, no doubt because of the more distinct silhouette.”

It comes in many guises. It is not unusual to see this fly tied with a gold bead head though the Partridge and Orange is not normally weighted. Some anglers will also tie this fly with a yellow or green body.

Many tyers vary this pattern by employing a green or yellow body, and leaving out the gold or silver ribbing and simply using thread in its place. It is also sold without the tail and wing employing long soft hackles that move enticingly underwater and suggesting the name Orange Spider. A sparsely tied “spider” version like the one shown below from the FlyShop.co.nz is relatively easy to tie making it a great place to start out for the beginning tier.

A simple basic pattern can be tied with just two materials, orange thread and partridge hackle.

Soft Hackle Partridge/Orange spider available from FlyShop.co.nz

Hook either wet fly or nymph and also caddis pupa hooks. Good hook choices for this pattern include Black Magic 2x Long Shank size 12, or Kamasan B401 Whisker Barb. size: 12 – 18.

Tail Whisks: brown hackle.

Body: Orange silk floss. If desired a little orange dubbing can be added over the body near the head which will help to tramp bubbles making the fly even more realistic.

Rib: Gold or silver oval tinsel.

Wings: Partridge tips.

Hackle: Partridge.

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