by Levi Opsatnic.
When thinking of trout flies, it is no surprise that mayflies usually get the highest priority, but is that a result of their elegant appearance as they float by? Or is it just that, as fly fishers, we are conditioned to hold an almost illogical reverence for this species of bugs? No matter what the reason is, there’s no doubting that mayfly imitations catch fish; however, I’m here to tell you that mayflies aren’t the only worthy trout morsel of a bug out there. Enter the caddisfly.
As a group of insects, caddis hold around 12,000 different species, most of which are nothing short of a quick meal for trout, and, unlike mayflies, undergo a complete metamorphosis: nymph (larvae), pupa, and adult. This means that as an angler we get the benefit of trying to match each one of these stages in hopes of fooling a fish.
With the caddis I’d like to start at the bottom of that chain with its larval form. caddis larvae come in a ton of shapes, sizes, colors, and habitat preference. Some caddis, like the famed Grannom, build a casing from stream debris that quickly becomes their home. Others, like the Green Sedge, are considered “free-living” and anchor themselves to a rock when not searching for food. The caddis that we’ll tie can imitate both a free-living caddis and a cased caddis that has lost its house. Whichever way you decide to view it, this fly catches fish and represents a large amount of those 12,000 species.
Hook: Hook: Daiichi 1120, sizes 10-20 (though pretty much any curved nymph hook will work fine)
Weight: .020 lead free wire
Thread: Brown Danville 6/0 thread
Bead: I’m using a 5m. silver bead, but really any bead that fits the hook will work; I prefer a silver or brass colored bead on this fly
Body: Any light to dark green dubbing (remember the Caddis comes in a ton of colors), though I prefer one with solid sinking qualities such as some blended rabbit fur
Ribbing: Olive Krystal Flash
Collar: Peacock herl
The finished fly:
Since Caddis generally hatch all year round in almost every Pennsylvanian trout stream, this fly doesn’t really have many restrictions as to when you can successfully fish it. I generally fish it under an indicator and apply weight as needed. Also, it’s a good rule to fish with smaller flies as the season progresses — in the winter you may want to fish a size 12 or 14, but in the summer a 16 or 18 would be better suited as most of the larvae in the streams will have recently hatched and are more immature than the ones you will find in winter.
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