Footwing Spinner

Footwing Spinner
Snowshoe rabbit hair is a perfect material for spinner wings. The hair is durable, floats high, has a supple footprint, and is easily restored with desiccant.David J. Siegfried photo

Formidable footprints with snowshoe rabbit foot hair

TYING STEPS (Click Here)

I was a guest tier at a small regional fly-tying show, and I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of the guest of honor, Sylvester Nemes. His book Spinners (Stackpole Books, 2006) had just been published, and I hoped he would sign my copy.

Spinners was the first book devoted solely to the spinner stage of the mayfly life cycle, and it also illustrated numerous effective patterns.

I had always been a big fan of Nemes's books and was an avid tier of his highly effective soft-hackle patterns.

At the show, I was busy tying my mayfly emerger pattern and answeringquestions regarding the best methods for tying and fishing it. An older gentleman watching me noticed my copy of Spinners, and asked what I thought about it.


I told him it was well done, long overdue, and that I was waiting for the author to show up so he might sign it. The gentleman smiled, asked my name, then signed the book and put it back on the table.


I felt like an idiotI had been reading Nemes's books for years and had no idea what he looked like.


Tying Better Spinners

Over the next few years, I incorporated Nemes's spinner patterns into my fly boxes, and they always fooled trout. But since they used only hackle or hen wing feathers for the wings, they were not durable, and didn't float well after getting slimed by a fish.

My early fly-tying mentor was Del Mazza. Mazza is the finest contemporary fly tier and instructor I know. He believes that the best flies are created for situations, not imitations. A good question to ask yourself is, "How can I change the design of a fly to solve a specific problem or fishing situation?"


With that in mind, here was my predicament: I needed a natural spinner wing material that floated high, lasted long, reanimated with desiccants, and was supple enough not to spin and twist a light leader. As with many things in life, the answer was years in the making, and appeared when it was least expected.

Realizations

The Usual is one of my favorite flies. To the chagrin of many of my classic match-the-hatch friends, I use this disheveled, hair-wing fly regularly, and do well with it. During one preseason spell, I was tying a batch in various colors and sizes, lauding snowshoe hair as an exceptional material for emerger and dun patterns. Then it hit me: The magic material I had been seeking for my spinners was right here the entire time.


Snowshoe foot hair is a perfect material for spinner wings. The hair is extremely durable, floats high, has a supple footprint, and is easily restored with desiccant. In addition, its iridescent sheen is greater than most feathers, and it is available in numerous colors. I prefer natural and light dun for my spinner patterns.

The Footwing Spinner is easily adjustable in size, body materials, and colors to imitate any mayfly spinner. The recipe here is for an egg-laying female Hendrickson.

In the East, most Hendrickson spinner falls occur on warm spring evenings, as well as from morning until noon as temperatures rise. Try the Footwing Spinner for its durability, floatability, and fishability. It provides more fishing time per fly, and you might even catch a fish or two.

Harold McMillan owns Housatonic River Outfitters, Inc., in Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut.

TYING STEPS (Click Here)

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

American Rivers today released its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers, identifying ten rivers facing imminent threats. News

2019 Most Endangered Rivers

Fly Fisherman - April 16, 2019

American Rivers today released its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers,...

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere. Fly Tying

Fly Tying Chip's Monster Magic Fly

Dwayne 'Chip' Cromarty - January 15, 2016

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere.

Fly Fisherman's documentary Industry

Fly Fisherman Magazine Documentary Recognized by Outdoor Writers Association of America

Fly Fisherman - June 24, 2019

Fly Fisherman's documentary "One Path" was recognized with two awards.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

 Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Black Beauty

Black Beauty

Master fly tier Charlie Craven discuss the tools and materials needed to tie the Black Beauty.

Breaking the Surface

Breaking the Surface

Attack of the Bass continues as Breaking the Surface attacks bass with fly and lure 12:30pm ET Sunday, April 17th.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

You don't always catch large trout in these alpine lakes and streams, but even the small ones are brightly colored treasures. Trout

Alpine Lakes for Remote Monsters

Landon Mayer - April 18, 2018

You don't always catch large trout in these alpine lakes and streams, but even the small ones...

American River California United States

American River California

MIchael Wier - March 23, 2017

American River California

Read about Colorado's backcountry fly fishing in United States

Indian Peaks Wilderness Area Colorado

Steven B. Schweitzer - May 03, 2016

Read about Colorado's backcountry fly fishing in " Indian Peaks Wilderness Area Colorado."

See More Stories

More Fly Tying

Learn how to tie this classic fly in Fly Tying

Morrish's May Day

Charlie Craven - June 13, 2016

Learn how to tie this classic fly in "Fly-Tying: Morrish's May Day".

The Kamikaze Sculpin is easy to tie, versatile, and smartly designed to get the job done. Fly Tying

Tying the Kamikaze Sculpin

Charlie Craven

The Kamikaze Sculpin is easy to tie, versatile, and smartly designed to get the job done.

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly. Fly Tying

Tying the Strong Arm Merkin

David W. Skok - July 09, 2019

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly.

See More Fly Tying

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.