Posts Tagged ‘elk hair caddis


Fly Fishing: Presenting A Darker Silhouette

SwittersB Wading SB BBasic Black in fly patterns is a given concept of acceptance for sub-surface patterns and presentations, but many fly fishers don’t stay with the black on top of the water’s surface when fishing. Whether it is working with a fly pattern that offers more visibility, or attempting to provide more exacting “match the hatch” markers the fly fisher doesn’t tie or fish many black patterns.

A few years ago, I started using the Black Elk Hair Caddis pattern. My mind also questioned the blackness of it all. Maybe a more exacting shade of brown was in order? But, I have to say the black pattern has done quite well on rivers and lakes. I haven’t tied many up, but I plan to this Winter in assorted sizes along with Black Soft Hackles.


The patterns have merit and produce when the size of the pattern is matched to the existing hatches coming off. 

bow shallows wet cuff SB

In my excitement and admiration, I dunked my fleece jacket in the water to hold/release the fish. It was a cold day and a little forethought to this possibility was in order. This fish took the Black Elk Hair Caddis skittered on/in the surface chop. (Photo by Bucky)

Bow Caddis Reflection SB

This pretty fish also took the Black Elk Hair Caddis. (Photo by Bucky)

Give black surface patterns a try for Midges (Chironomid/Buzzers), Caddis, Stonefly and Mayfly. Even a big, fluttering Dragon pattern might entice a wallop. Trout Caught/Released


Fly Fishing: Summer Sky-Dark Patterns

Screen shot SBTraditional dry fly patterns tend toward the lighter shades of brown, green and black into tan, olive, yellow or grey. Of course, those pattern colors work wonders but consider the darker color…black too. On bright skied days try darker silhouettes to get a rise.

Black EHCaddis SB


Basic Black Caddis Patterns

Basic Black is an underutilized color for Caddis patterns. Whether the standard Elk Hair Caddis (L) or the X-Caddis (R), it is an excellent eye catching pattern for trout. It is, under low light conditions, a bit harder to see (for you).


Tying a Hairwing Dun-Emerger (But, a Well Known Caddis Pattern too)

I frankly never remember to tie these patterns. How simple while churning out dozens of Elk Hair Caddis (EHC) to simply tie the Hairwing Dun. Whether, the tail is a traditional split tail of hackle fibers or as I tied it with Zelon/Antron fibers, the pattern does well as a mayfly dry pattern (and a caddis too).


These were tied on a size 14 hook. The thread was tan 8/0. The tail was tan Zelon and the dubbing was a tan synthetic by Hareline Dubbin. The dubbing was twisted onto the thread and wrapped up the shank to satisfy the abdomen and thorax. Tan elk hair was cut from the hide, evened out in a hair stacker and tied in as a wing. Simple as that. No rib. A basic EHC wing for a mayfly pattern. This pattern satisfies the mayfly emerger/adult pattern needs.


Notice the identical wing for the EHC and the Hairwing Dun. Below is a Hairwing Dun tied with a traditional hackle barb tail I found at Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing. I must note what I took to be a nice experimental effort on my part has the same look as the famous Matthews X-Caddis…hmm…the complications of thinking you are original and realizing, as you would expect, others have been there..done that..and called it something else. Oh well..the wing is the issue here. The tail I have used conflicts with the renowned X-Caddis pattern. What can I say…it works for both.

South Holston Sulfur HairWing Dun


Elk Hair Caddis (dubbed, ribbed and scraggly)

Caddis (Low Water Profile)

Caddis (Low Water Profile)

The hardest part of this pattern is dubbing a minimal amount of your favorite sparkle, synthetic dubbing and then winding a thin copper ribbing up through the dubbing. Then brush out the dubbing to a scraggly style to animate the surface. Remember an ultra thin copper wire, tinsel or thread type ribbing.  This is a size 14 dry fly hook and, of course, and Elk Hair wing. A slightly different version from the usual EHC pattern. It will float lower and offer more movement on and in the surface film. Of course, the dubbing can be a different color, say tan, cinnamon or darker. Found this pattern to tie at The Caddis Fly Shop; Eugene, Oregon. A similar pattern, I have shown before, has CDC palmered around shank and under wing. This pattern would be more durable.  


Traveling Sedge~Caddis (skittering, running, motoring along…a wallow and a glump)

Traveling Sedge from
Traveling Sedge from
Sedge Adult
Sedge Adult

“When asked what their favorite time to fish, most hardcore B.C. still water fly fisher’s agree that late June and caddis fly hatches are at the top of the list. This time of year can bring some of the biggest trout to the top to feed and create some of the most exciting displays of surface takes that you may ever encounter. 
Traveling sedges are also not your every day run of the mill caddis flies. No sir, these are the biggest of the big in the caddis fly world. Most travelers average around one inch long with many nearing the two-inch marker. In some instances I’ve seen them nearly three inches long and looking more like a dragonfly than a caddis.”
Yes sir, big glumps and wallowing over a big bushy Caddis dry is sooo much fun. Impart action of skittering and jiggling the fly across the surface toward you on the lake’s surface. Now, here is something from my own personal experience that may assist you. When you see the take, you may want to hesitate on the strike. I have noticed in B.C. and in Oregon that when the fish at first wallows or swamps over the fly there is a delay in the hook up. Yes, sometimes the fish simply takes the fly and it is hooked regardless of  whether you were looking at your buddy across the way or the hot babe walking the shoreline in a halter top (ok, not that common, with the mosquitoes and all). But, often the fish appears to have missed the fly or maybe is trying to swamp it, for the fish immediately resurfaces and cleanly takes the fly. I can recall fishing on SalmonL. (B.C.) and Hosmer L. (Oregon) and seeing the take, setting  and missing the set several times. First time, I was told by a nearby fly fisher to wait for the second take. It worked. Later in B.C. similar responses from the fish…and similar adjustments. It works. I believe any bushy oversized Caddis dry pattern can work, be it a Stimulator, Tom Thumb, Mikulak or Large Elk Hair Caddis. Fly fisherman express great pleasure in fishing dry flies as opposed to dredging the lower strata…this is even more exciting than most dry fly action..up there with Hex action and under more favorable conditions too.   

Elk Hair Caddis





Caddis Confusion to Simplicity (or I’m a little slow)


Common Name Scientific Name Order
Black Caddis Brachycentrus spp. Caddisfly
Cinnamon Caddis Ceratopsyche slossonae Caddisfly
Cinnamon Caddis Ceratopsyche sparna Caddisfly
Cinnamon Caddis Helicopsyche borealis Caddisfly
Cream & Brown Mottled Microcaddis Oxyethira spp. Caddisfly
Fall Caddis Discosmoecus spp. Caddisfly
Gray Caddis Hydropsyche spp. Caddisfly
Great Orange Caddis Dicosmoecus spp. Caddisfly
Green Caddis Rhyacophila spp. Caddisfly
Green Rock Worm Caddis Rhyacophila fenestra Caddisfly
Helm’s Cheumatopsyche Caddisfly Cheumatopsyche helma Caddisfly
Igloo Caddis Glossosoma spp. Caddisfly
Little Black Caddis Chimarra obscura Caddisfly
Little Black Caddis Chimarra aterrima Caddisfly
Little Black Caddis Brachycentrus lateralis Caddisfly
Mother’s Day Caddis Brachycentrus spp. Caddisfly
October Caddis Dicosmoecus spp. Caddisfly
Ring Horn Microcaddis Leucotrichia spp. Caddisfly
Salt & Pepper Microcaddis Agraylea spp. Caddisfly
Small Black Caddis Amiocentrus spp. Caddisfly
Somber Microcaddis Ochrotrichia spp. Caddisfly
Speckled Peter Caddis Helicopsyche borealis Caddisfly
Tiny Black Caddis Glossosoma nigrior Caddisfly
Vannote’s Cheumatopsyche Caddisfly Cheumatopsyche vannotei Caddisfly
Vari-colored Microcaddis Hydroptila spp. Caddisfly
Zebra Caddis Macrostemum zebratum Caddisfly (provided above table of common caddis names and entomological names).

I have provided the above Caddis chart for those that either converse in the common name or the formalized genus name. The chart focuses upon the chasm between the truly knowledgeable and me. I imagine that not precisely recognizing the particular precise genus has cost me fish. I see Caddis coming off and fluttering by some ten yards away…is that a tan or is that a green bodied Caddis? If they don’t land upon my hat or pontoon boat or sit on streamside shrubs, I have really little idea about which cased Caddis or which pupa is emerging. I know enough to carry Green Rockworm Caddis on streams and those long antennaed Caddis on a lake, as well as smaller, dark micro Caddis and a large traveling sedge. Dark wing, lighter wing, adults, pupa, cased and uncased, big and small. That is the extent of my Caddis knowledge. Odd, my first fly that I fished was a Tied Down Caddis. That never sparked much incentive to learn more about a family of insects that provided me exceptional results as a teen on small, Oregon streams fishing for cutt’s. I think I have a lot to learn here but I think I do not have the passion to become a Dave Haeffle or Jeff Morgan or Dave Hughes….that is why they have notoriety and I am here in a blog….   I will stick with size (always overestimated) color and a dark, medium or light colored wing for the dry. Pupa’s will mostly be bead heads and the TDC. I will carry a few big caddis for Traveling Sedges or October Cadds and few small micro Caddis and the rest will be the usual Elk Hair Caddis and a few pupa and cased Caddis. Simplicity still works for me on stillwater or stream….could I catch more fish?…perhaps, but at the cost of making my head hurt with all that knowledge, I doubt it will happen. No, I will stick with ‘tiny black’ ‘cinnamon’ ‘tan’ ‘great orange’ and when to use them.       


Time to tie


A TDC (as I earlier wrote, my only fly as a kid) and a Peeking Caddis (pupa peeking out of a suggested casing).  

img_5845-a-ehc.jpg The staple Elk Hair Caddis

“I still don’t know why I fish or why other men fish, except that we like it and it makes us think and feel”~Roderick Haig-Brown, A River Never Sleeps. This mistress does make one think and feel in so many ways.   


Elk Hair Caddis with CDC


I have seen this pattern tied several times at tying shows. It is the standard Elk Hair Caddis, but the CDC is tied in and wrapped forward instead of a dubbed body and palmered hackle. This causes the fly to float flush in the film and the wing still allows for visibility. The wrapped CDC causes tentacles of CDC fibers to undulate in the water suggesting life.  A dab of floatant only to the wing or some false casting should keep the fly floating fine…but should it sink…that would be ok also. Impart some action to it as it is retrieved.   Hans Weilenmann has written several times re this fly and the picture is from a recent article in Flyfiserman.

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