Soft-hackles, in some respect, can have very slight wings, but traditionally are not winged as we think of them. Spiders are wingless, Flymphs are, too. The hackle, on all of these flies can and does represent both wing and legs. Leisenring often used hackles with a dark list-the center part of the hackle fibers near the stem, like Badger and Furnace hackle. He claimed it did a better job of representing both wings and legs.
Early spiders, as developed by Stewart, were hackled on the front half of the fly body. Also, early North Country flies (soft-hackles) were tied so the hackles stood, somewhat perpendicular to the hook shank and were often fished upstream as Stewart intended. So you see Stewart was connected to modern dry fly technique as are these flies to some extent.
Woodcock & Orange
This Woodcock and Orange is tied traditionally, hackles perpendicular and butted against the thorax for support.
Modern soft-hackles, spiders and flymphs as well, can be fished upstream or down using various techniques and retrieves. Modern spiders are usually tied on short shank and are hackled as a collar if dubbed, but early spiders were tied with silks and hackles wrapped through the front half. Spider- as used here, is of English derivation and was used to denote the soft-hackled fly of the North Country. It is still used as such, today.
Some Flymphs can also be hackled through the dubbed thorax, however, this feature was not added to these flies till much later in its development. In fact I'd never heard of it till I read Dave Hughes' book WET FLIES. He told me that Vern Hidy added this attribute to the flymph shortly before he passed away, but he never put it into print. Mr. Hughes knew Hidy personally. Up till that point flymphs were hackled as a collar. Also flymphs were generally dressed so the colored thread they were dubbed on showed through the dubbing.
It IS somewhat confusing, but it is a natural progression, really. Stewart's spiders were, most likely first in the line followed by "soft-hackles" as we call them. The English very often still call them "spiders". Flymphs followed later, developed in USA as Leisenring adopted many English patterns to American waters. Leisenring knew their history, I'm sure because he corresponded regularly with Skues. Hidy continued the development, coining the term "flymph' to denote the fly representing a transitional period between nymph and fly.
Here's a spider variation tied by Hans W.
Here's another by Olav Berg:
My variation according to Leisenring:
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