N.Q. (Not Quite) Spinner

N.Q. (Not Quite) Spinner

  • By: A. K. Best
  • Photography by: A. K. Best
Not Quite Spinner

I knew the blue-wing olives were hatching. I could see those little sailboats floating down the current crease from across the stream, so I tied on a size 18 Olive Quill dun and began fishing to the last fish in the crease. I got nothing. Not even a refusal rise. After a half-hour of this I waded over into the feeding lane and netted the water. They were Blue-Wing Olives all right, but it was the spinner form with their wings upright and clear as glass. Everything else was the same proportions and colors of the spinner form of the Blue-Wing Olive. Long, light-ginger tails, light-tan body, light-ginger legs and clear, glassy wings, but the wings upright and tight together. It was a phase of mayfly hatch I hadn’t seen before nor heard of. That evening, I sat at my vise and tied some N. Q. Spinners and went back to the stream the next day. If you think I got lucky, you’re exactly right. The new fly was a killer.

  1. Put the hook in the vise and attach the thread one hook-gap space behind the eye; wind to the end of the shank. Take two or three turns of thread over the last turn to create a tiny thread bump, to help splay the tailing.
  2. Tie on six or eight very stiff spade hackle fibers whose length should be about two hook-eye spaces longer than the entire hook. Lash the fibers up to the thread starting place, lift up the butts and clip them off.
  3. Select a pair of white hen hackle tips whose tips are a bit wider than the hook gap and half a hook gap longer than the hook shank. Tie them on one hook-gap space behind the eye. Do not separate them.
  4. Select one stripped and dyed hackle quill. Clip off the tip so the remaining tip diameter is equal to the hook shank and tailing diameter. Place it on top of the hook, one hook-eye space behind the eye, and lash it to the end of the shank.
  5. Wind the quill forward to stop one hook-eye space behind the wings. Tie it down firmly and clip off the remainder.
  6. Tie on the butt of the hackle and take two turns behind the wings and two in front. Tie down the hackle tip and whip-finish.


Hook: Mustad 94840, Tiemco 100 or Dai Riki 320, sizes 16 through 20
Thread: Danville light-tan 6/0
Tail: Light-ginger spade hackles, tied splayed
Body: One light-ginger or light-tan quill
Wings: Pair of white hen hackle tips, one size larger than the hook
Hackle: Four (just four) turns of light ginger