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As word spread of a new spider colonizing the states of the southeastern seaboard, it seemed only a matter of time before someone tied a fly to look like it and cast it to a fish. The East Asian Joro spider was first spotted in Colbert, Georgia, in 2015 and has spread across the region. So Field & Stream reached out to the Fly Shop Co. in Blue Ridge, Georgia, to see what local fly-tiers were attempting.
Will Taylor, owner of the Fly Shop Co, asked his guides if they’d found any Joro spiders out on the water. “They said, ‘we see them, and we’ve thought about fishing them,’” he says. Eric Hurst, the shop’s head guide, took to the vise to craft an imitation of the Joro. His result: the Lady in Waiting, a large dry fly with an articulated deer-hair body and banded rubber legs. It’s a good imitation of the Joro, which is itself a pretty handsome spider, sporting a yellow body with blue-green and red markings and long black legs with yellow bands. It took about an hour for Taylor and Hurst to find a nice rainbow to eat the Lady in Waiting on the headwaters of the Toccoa River.
The University of Georgia reported in March that the Joro can tolerate colder weather than similar invasive spiders, and may well migrate up the coast. Alarming headlines warned of “millions of giant flying spiders,” due to the Joro’s penchant for “ballooning,” or drifting in the breeze with a bit of its web as a parachute. But the Japanese native, which probably came to the U.S. in a shipping container, is pretty much harmless to people and pets, and like most spiders eats pests.
Taylor notices Joro webs have become increasingly common in the past five years. “Certain times of the year, those spider webs are all over power lines,” he says. Whether that translates into a great fishing opportunity isn’t clear. That Toccoa rainbow clearly thought the Lady in Waiting was worth eating, but that’s the beauty of terrestrial patterns—they represent an opportunity most fish can’t pass up.
“We’re not fishing it regularly, but it can be fun,” Taylor says. “It might be something that guides throw when nothing else is working. Maybe when you’re starting to see more spider webs than not, maybe that’s a time to try one.”
Lady In Waiting Recipe
- Hooks: Umpqua U002 size 8 and 10
- Body: Deer belly hair—black, red, yellow, natural
- Legs: Barred rubber legs
- Thread: UTC Ultra Thread, 210 denier