Early Season Tactics - Start Planning Now

There’s always great excitement with the beginning of the trout season on most UK rivers only a few weeks away - I've got my eyes on some nice Greggs pasties, my fly lines cleaned and fly boxes organised, just waiting for the river to open on the 25th - it always pays to plan ahead!

I've spent the last few months dreaming of casting a small caddis imitation to a regularly rising fish (and I know the exact fish - let's hope he's still holding station this year).

-- Intermission --

Please check out the very end of this email - we have a few 'Parish Notices'  which we'd love you to read - all about what we have planned for the coming season, and a new product launch next week!

-- Intermission Ends --

However, I must not get too excited for the beginning of the season, as it normally starts off pretty slowly with most of the action below the surface.

So what flies do you use?

We're glad you asked that ...

Spiders are my 'go to' patterns in the first few weeks of the season. Spiders are some of the most productive flies fished in rivers today. Especially popular at the start of the Brown Trout season (March/April here in the UK). They are a fantastic way to search a river, often fished in a team of two or three - see below for more rig details.

Towards the end of this email are some tips on Spider Fishing and also a link to a blog post we made on 'How To Fish Spiders'.

A leader setup correctly with spiders is one of the best ways to search lots of water quickly. It's also one of the most fulfilling ways to fish when the weather is not conducive to using dry flies.

Usually fished in a team of either 2 or 3. They are a great searching technique, especially in the early season when the rivers can be higher than normal and there are no obvious hatches.

This is why we've put together a stunning selection of 36 Spider patterns in their own slimline silicone nymphing box:

Our Ultimate Spider Selection is a modern twist on some age-old patterns (some date back over 400 years). This is essentially our Spider & Tungsten Spider Selection added together, along with a few of those 'early season specials', Snipe & Purples. This ultimate set of spider patterns will allow you to cover all water types in all conditions you will expect to see in the early season.

Along with the regular style of spider pattern we've also included our most popular Tungsten Spiders, these have the addition of a 2mm silver tungsten bead at the head, allowing you to reach those trickier fish in the deeper pools. They are great on the point of a team of three spiders and allow you to cover the full depth of water, all at the same time!

These original spider patterns were made famous by T E Pritt, and are great for early and mid-season trout.

*** Go on, treat yourself and be ready for the start of the season! ***

We have included 9 different patterns in this selection:

  • Snipe & Purple 
  • Partridge & Orange
  • Pearl Spider
  • Pearl Hot-Spot Spider
  • Black Spider
  • 2mm Tungsten Partridge & Orange
  • 2mm Tungsten Pearl Spider
  • 2mm Tungsten Pearl Hot-Spot Spider
  • 2mm Tungsten Black Spider

We are supplying two of each of the above patterns in sizes 14 & 16 (a total of 36 individual flies) - we're also including our stunning silicone nymph box, so you will only need to take one box on the water with you.

Get ready for the Early Season with our Ultimate Spider Selection which includes the above 9 different patterns (designed to be used in all conditions throughout the early season), we are supplying 4 of each spider pattern (2 each of sizes 14 & 16) - In total there are 36 flies and a Silicone Nymphing box, all for only £47.50 - RRP for these is usually £58.99.

*** All orders from Barbless Flies are shipped FREE of charge to anywhere in the world ***

When there is no evidence of fish rising in the early part of the season, the very best way to search the water is to use a team of spiders. When we say 'searching the water' what we actually mean is the ability to fish multiple fly patterns through all levels of the water column at the same time.

Searching the water can be a necessity when there is more water than normal.

A balanced leader, setup correctly with spiders is one of the best ways to search lots of water quickly. It's also one of the most fulfilling ways to fish when the weather is not conducive for dry flies.

Q. I've always liked the look of spiders, but I've never fished them before, how do I use them?

A. We're glad you asked:

Spiders (or Soft Hackle flies) are one of the most popular flies used in rivers today and for good reason. They are very easy to fish and a really effective method at the beginning of the trout season!

Usually fished in a team of either 2 or 3, and sometimes even 4. They are a great searching technique, especially in the early season when the rivers can be higher than normal and there are no obvious hatches.


An ideal tackle setup for spider fishing is:

  • Rod: 10’ 4wt with a soft tip is a good starter setup
  • Fly Line: Any 4wt fly line will do, but one with a long taper is ideal
  • Leader: A 9' to 12' tapered leader (4X or 5X). Make sure it is degreased so it sinks easily.
  • Leader Configuration: Typically start with a 2 fly leader which is around 5' long in total. This should consist of 2' to 3' tippet to your first dropper (6 inches long) and then a further 18” to 36” to the point fly, see below.
  • Use a small spider on the dropper and a larger spider/bead-head spider as the point fly.
  • When fishing at close quarters use a furled leader for better turnover

To find out more, view our blog post here.


Spider patterns are usually fishing in a team of multiple flies. This allows you to cover as much of the water column as possible in a single swing of the flies. If fishing this way in fater water (as is usually the case in the early part of the season) then it pays to use a weighted spider as the point fly:

When fishing spiders with multiple flies, if you can, use a fluorocarbon tippet as this sinks faster than standard nylon and is supposedly less visible to the fish.

Parish Notices

Our Weekly Emails

There are a few things we'd like to let you know - to set your expectations for our emails throughout the coming season ...

As you will be aware, if you've been a member of our email community for any length of time - we do send quite a few emails.

We always aim to make every email we send interesting - we hope that you will learn something or at least they will make you think!

As the river season starts, each week we will be sending emails on the following days:

  • Tuesdays: Along the same lines of the current emails we send on a Tuesday, i.e. new flies (our man in Bosnia has been working overtime), new techniques/ideas, stories & escapades/adventures we've had etc.
  • Thursdays: These emails will be pretty short and to the point, outlining flies that are successful now in both rivers and stillwaters, that have come back into stock.
  • Saturdays: As most anglers get out to fish over the weekends, these emails will be sent early in the morning and will be full of information on the current conditions, flies which are hatching and techniques to use. No sales pitch, just pure information to make your time on the water more productive.

Also, for a Saturday we have a brand new series of 'deep dives' into making your own leaders and an 'updated for 2023' series of our most popular Hatch Chat emails - all delivered early on a Saturday morning.

New Product Launch - Next Week

Keep your eyes on your inbox next Tuesday, we've a new product to launch - in fact, it's a series of products. We think you're going to love them - at least we hope you do, it's taken us ages to put all of the prep work in!


Tight lines.