The Spiny Norman Story






The first reference to a pellet fly in my memory was by Dick Walker. In the 70/80’s stock pond fishing was in it’s infancy and he quickly worked out that freshly stocked fish were vulnerable to a ball of clipped deer hair (The Hedgehog or Pellet Vulgaris)). Others did, so I spent a fair bit of time spinning deer hair and clipping to pellet shape, I still do, for carp as well as trout flyfishers. Your mind wanders after staring at 100’s of pellet flies, and at some point I got they idea of not trimming the deer hair to create a big bob fly for use on wind tossed lochs and at that time reservoirs. The red tail was added along with krystal hair to make it a proper fly.

The Spiny Norman was born. It worked really well on wind tossed Hebridean lochs with something black on the point. Its main advantage over traditional hackled wets is its buoyancy, gink the fly and it will float like a cork. It also makes a lot of ‘noise’, fish come from deep and distant lies to check out the wake old Spiny leaves. When drifting on a big water, or wandering the bank, it is very reassuring when a fish slashes at the bob. Even if it doesn’t take at least you know where they are lying.

I have ended up tying a range of sizes from size 12 trout hooks to Aberdeen size 1. Remember to tie these with plenty of straggle and loose hairs. On all patterns I trim the hair off the under side of the hook, this means that they hook fish and sit on the water surface cleanly,  varnish the body as you apply the deer hair for strong flies.



Standard Spiny Norman

Hook: Caddis 8/10/12/14

Silk: Uni-thread 6/0 black or red

Tail: Red floss silk (use real silk, much stronger than synthetics)

Body: Deer hair, use all colours, make sure you get a mix of straggly and short hairs to create the diffused shape that fish love


Spiny Norman #8  -  3 flies for £1.20


Spiny Norman  #10   -   3 flies for £1.20


Spiny Norman #12  - 3 flies for £1.20





This is the fly to use on the top dropper on any Stillwater. As a rule the larger the  wave the larger the fly. I use a two fly HEBRIDEAN CAST, Spiny on the dropper and the point fly 3 to 5 feet away, usually a Murrays Bluebottle, Butcher Spider and in case the black ones don’t work a Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear.

On reaching the loch choose a bank with the wind blowing left to right or right to left. Make short casts across and downwind, fish will take the flies on the drift with no real retrieve (other than to keep the line straight) and the bob can be ‘dibbled’ in the surface by using the rod tip, minimal movement is often enough to animate the fly. Talking of rod tips, a long wetfly rod 10/11feet long for AFTM 6/7 lines is the best tool for this sort of fishing combined with a Double Taper floating AFTM 5/6 line. Fan casts out and down the bank searching the water for fish, distant casting is not needed on most waters, a well controlled 10 yard cast is what you are aiming for, fishing this way is effective and much more fun than heaving out a long cast and pulling the fly back hoping something grabs hold.

Remember to take a stride after a few casts so you are always covering new water, wild trout need to be searched for.

If fish swirl at the fly and do not take remove the two fly cast off and try something like a CDC/Deer Daddy Long Legs, fish this dead drift over the lie.

Brown and Sea Trout love a Daddy, use the thin dressed version in calm water or the heavy deer job in wave tossed water.



Much more pc than bits of foam! A well ginked spiny on the dropper with a buzzer or nymph on the point and you have an easy to cast rig to search lochs or rivers with. A size 10 Spiny will suspend a well leaded larva and is easy to see in fast boily water that trout and grayling love.

                       ________________________________           __________________________

       9 or 12 foot Tapered Knotless leader 5/6lb      I        3 to 5 foot Tippet 3 to 4lb

                                                                   2 to 3 in dropper


Put Spiny on the point and use CDC ‘F’ Flies, Buzzers and the like on droppers to offer the fish during an evening rise on the loch. Spiny suspends the team and shows up subtle takes to the dropper flies

9 foot Tapered Leader 4 to 5lb               3 foot of 3 to 4lb              3 foot of 3 to 4lb

____________________________       _____________________    _____________ Spiny on the point

                             Top dropper     I            Middle dropper      I 

Make the leader stronger if larger fish are expected. Use these leader proportions and you can still net your fish!






Hook: Low water salmon size 6

Silk: Uni-thread 6/0 or Qualitye 4/0 black

Tail: Red Silk floss plus some pearl Krystel Hair.

Body: Lashings of deer hair, short and long fibres

Whiskers: Strands of Krystal Hair, pearl or what ever you fancy.


Giant Spiny Norman Low water salmon #6   75p each




These are tied for night time sea trout work, a surface lure that you can cast rather than lob and big loch sea trout and salmon. They bring fish up when Muddlers fail! I suspect it is a size thing, the dapping flies of yesteryear were huge affairs something that seems to have been forgotten.

For something bigger use a size 4 with a flying double or now for something completely different…


A spiny norman 4 


Pike flyfishing is no longer seen as complete madness in fact many enjoy the fun, try this as a surface or sunk line fly:


Silk: 4/0 Black Qualitye silk

Hook: Salmon #2 or larger if you dare!

Tail: Zonker strip or a thin piece of leather plus Krystal hair, red and yellows, pike go for bright colours.

The Sea trout version I tie with a flasabou and pearl krystal hair tail

Body: As much deer hair as you can get on the hook

Whiskers: Lots of krystal hair.


Forget eyes and over trimmed bodies, aim for a messy fly!

Monster Spiny Norman(Pike) Low Water Salmon #2  -  £1.75

Monster Spiny Norman (Sea Trout) Low water Salmon #4   -  £1.75




You can use this on a floating or intermediate line for surface work or use a fast sink line a short leader, chuck out a long line and leave, the fly might well suspend your line! However a fast retrieve will make the fly dive in a very pleasing manner.

That covers it until new uses for Spiny turn up, these notes are not just based on my experiences but from happy customers, please email comments, experiences and photo’s, it all helps.

Nearly forgot, the name Spiny Norman, out of the Monty Python catalogue, a large spiny hedgehog that followed Dinsdale, a Spiny Norman is an unclipped hedgehog!

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