The Platte River Spider sprang from the mind of my good friend, Chris Schrantz. Chris is one of the most easy going guys you’ll ever meet, a consummate angler and tyer of some of the most beautiful, soft and alive flies you’ll ever see. Hailing from Pennsylvania, Chris guided for years at the famed Elktrout Lodge in Kremmling, Colorado before moving on to manager duties at St. Peter’s Fly Shop up in Ft. Collins. Chris managed the shop and guided the North Platte River for many years before again moving on to his current position with Boulder Boatworks. Chris is a master carpenter (something many people don’t know) as well as an avid Steeheader and his handicraft shows in the beautiful flies he produces, so much so, that he is also a fellow Umpqua Feather Merchants Signature Tyer with several other successful patterns to his credit. Check out Chris’ Callibaetis Nymph, his Golden Nugget and other spawns that are sure to make a difference in your next outing.
Hook: TMC 200R #4-8
Thread: 70 denier Black
Underwing: Red Ringneck Pheasant Tail Fibers
Body: Brown and yellow Marabou Feathers, wrapped.
Flash: Rootbeer Krystal Flash
Collar: Mallard Flank Dyed wood Duck Gold, Folded and wrapped as a soft hackle.
Wing: Two yellow inside of two furnace Chinese neck feathers.
Head: Black thread coated with Wapsi Gloss Coat
Attach the tying thread behind the hook eye and wrap a thread base back one quarter of a shank length.
Clip out six or eight fibers from a red pheasant tail and measure them to a shank length long. Tie these fibers in at the back edge of the thread base so they extend one quarter of a shank length beyond the bend of the hook. Clip the butt ends.
Select one brown and one yellow marabou feather for length, so the marabou fibers are about one and a half shank lengths long, and try to pick a pair of feathers with relatively thin center quills. This will make it much easier to palmer wrap the feathers. Strip the fibers from the butt ends of the feathers exposing the center quill on the bottom. Lay the feathers one on top of the other as shown, being sure that they are lying inside to outside. Preen the tip section of the feathers into a single bunch by wetting your fingers slightly (lick your fingers) and stroking the fibers together toward the tip. You should be left with a wing assembly like the one pictured here.
Tie the feathers in by the tip ends that you preened together, with the outside of the feather facing
Pull up on the butt ends of the marabou feathers and with wetted fingers (again!) fold the marabou fibers to the back side of the quill as you would for a wet fly hackle. Try to get the folded fibers to lie straight back parallel to the shank. Move the tying thread forward to about two eye lengths back from the hook eye.
Grab the butt ends of the stripped marabou quills in a pair of hackle pliers and wrap them forward in tight concentric turns as you would palmer a hackle feather. Tie the feathers off about two eye lengths back from the hook eye. With good planning, you should be tying off over bare stem here, as there should be no fibers left on the stems at this point. Clip the excess stems flush against the shank now.
Prepare a mallard flank feather by stripping the fibers from the inside edge (the side that will touch the hook as you wrap it). This feather will be tied in by the tip, so this picture is a bit misleading, but it will make sense soon. Look for a mallard feather that has a thin quill and fibers that are maybe just lightly shorter than the hook shank.
Tie the mallard feather in by the tip end as you did with the marabou feathers. This includes separating the tip section as you did with the marabou. Pull up on the feather butt and stroke the fibers back and apart a bit. Clip the tip from the feather flush against the hook.
Grab the butt of the mallard feather in your hackle pliers and wrap it one or two turns forward and then tie it off. Again, as with the marabou, you should be tying off over bare quill. Clip the butt end of the feather.
Tie in two long strands of rootbeer Krystal flash along each side of the hook, sweeping back along the marabou body. Somehow, I forgot to actually photograph this step, but they are there! Select two yellow Chinese neck feathers that are about as wide as the hook gap at their widest point and trim the butt ends so the feathers are about as long as the hook shank. Pair these two feathers up with their inside together so they are cupped inside to inside. Set these feathers to the side for a moment.
Select and prepare two furnace brown feathers (furnace means brown with the dark/black center stripe) with the same characteristics and steps as the first two yellow feathers. Lay one brown feather on each side of the paired yellow feathers, sandwiching the yellows in the center of the browns. I usually put this completed wing assembly in my mouth at this point (YUCK!? Don’t be a Sally!) to “glue/wet” the assembly together and keep the feathers from separating during the tie down process.
Tie the completed wing assembly in at the front of the hook. For further details on this wing assembly process, please see the Platte River Special elsewhere on the site.
Build a smooth neat head and whip finish the thread.
Put a nice even coat of Wapsi Gloss Coat on the head. Gloss Coat is a glossy (?!) high build head cement that doesn’t run and makes a smooth shiny head. I like it!
Finished fly, front view. Note the slender silhouette.