Wonderful Widow's Web

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idow's  Web is a synthetic yarn currently marketed by Montana Fly Company (MFC).  Synthetic yarn has found its way into all nature of flies: nymphs, streamers, wets, and dries, where it can be utilized for wings, tails, bodies and parachute posts.  And because the fibers are quite water-resistant and come in a variety of colors they can also be fashioned into excellent yarn strike-indicators.  Though I use several synthetic yarn products, including Zelon, Hi-Vis, Para-post, and McFlylon, my overall favorite is this polypropylene product from MFC.

Above: Widow's Web can be used for wings, tails, bodies, and parachutes (colors shown here: tan, polar bear, chartreuse, and yellow)
Clockwise from top, left are flies tied by: Rob Knisely, Alberto Jimeno, Peter Frailey and John Mundinger.

Currently sold in over 40 colors and distributed nationally through MFC, I bought my first hanks of Widow's Web from the Mad Scientist (MS).  His Web site, the Fly Tyers Dungeon, was the sole source of the yarn until he sold the manufacturing and distributing rights to MFC in 2001. "Mad" currently sells many other tying materials for incredibly low prices, including a new product called Congo Hair, which I have not yet tested but which appears to have very similar characteristics to Widow's Web.  His Web site is listed in the links section that follows.

The hanks I bought from MS were huge.  For a tyer like me, who ties for himself and swaps flies with a few friends, these hanks represented “lifetime” supplies.  I have been using an orange hank for several years for tails on panfish poppers.  As you can see in the photo below, my orange hank looks nearly untouched!  The newer hanks, bought under the MFC label, are smaller but generous when compared with other products.  I paid $2.50 for the newer hank (2004 prices).

 The newer hank is smaller, but nevertheless quite ample. For perspective, scissors are 3" long. 

The Mad Scientist describes Widow's Web as a “high quality polypropylene with a nice sheen and slight wave to it.”  In an email he told me he began playing around with this material in approximately 1997 because he “liked the texture, wave, and its ability to maintain its shape when wet”. 

Widow's Web's texture and wave are evident in this poly-wing caddis pattern

Though it comes in a wide range of colors, it does not come in the bright colors found in many antron-based products.  For example, the pink is muted and I find the chartreuse to be more of a Kelly Green.  There are no fluorescent colors.

From the Montana Fly Company Web site.

In my opinion, compared with Hi-Vis, Para-post, Zelon, and McFlylon, the fibers are a bit thicker and less likely to mat when wet or slimed.  WW seems highly water repellent, though buoyancy may instead be because the kinky fibers resist matting and hold air bubbles longer. One outcome of the thicker fibers is that you need not use as many individual strands to get the desired appearance, such as with a wing or trailing shuck. 

There is much room for experimentation with this material.  John Mundinger, a friend from Montana, developed a high-riding strike indicator using Widow's Web.  See the links section that follows, to find his superb article with step-by-step directions on the Fly Fisherman Web site.

Stike indicators tied by John Mundinger

Rob Knisely, my friend from Kentucky, has experimented with using a black permanent marker to imitate the markings of a wood duck flank feather, as in the cahill pattern below.   Rob writes, "The markings are barely visible, but the overall effect is the darkening of the wing.... This is an interesting effect that can be used to customize other patterns." (A full side-view of this fly is included in the fly pattern samples that follow.)

Fly by Rob Knisely

Consult the Web site of Montana Fly Company for a list of dealers.  Since none are local to me, at the recommendation of my friend John Mundinger, my recent acquisitions have been from his local shop, Cross Currents in Helena, Montana.  Their Web site provides an “800” telephone number and you will find them friendly and helpful.


www.flytyersdungeon.com - The Web site of The Mad Scientist

www.flyfisherman.com/skills/jmindicator/index.html - Instructions on building strike indicators on the Web site of Fly Fisherman Magazine

www.montanafly.com - Distributor of Widow's Web

www.crosscurrents.com - Retailer in Montana through which you can purchase Widow's Web

www.invictaflies.us - This is Rob Knisely's Web site.  Rob has frequent how-to articles and many unique fly patterns


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