Tying Flies: Caddis Larvae Fly

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


Tying Instruction:

step1_300x300 STEP 1Begin the fly by crimping the barb down, putting the bead on the fly, and then wrapping between 10 and 20 wraps of lead free wire around the shank; I used fifteen on this fly. It is vital to push the wire up into the bead to ensure the bead is well secured.
step2_300x400 STEP 2Once your bead and wire are secured, attach your thread to the hook and tie in your Krystal Flash in at the rear of the fly. 
step3_300x340 STEP 3
Beginning at the rear of your fly, dub a tapered body that covers about two thirds of the hook shank. Be sure to leave room for a collar.
step4_300x340 STEP 4Now wrap your ribbing up the body of your fly and tie in your peacock herl collar; I am using two strands of herl for this fly.
step5_300x300 STEP 5Wrap a collar of peacock herl that fills the space between your dubbing and the bead, cut the herl off, and you may now tie your fly off and apply head cement, if you like.

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.


Be sure to check out Appalachian Outdoors selection of fishing guides and maps!

Life is Good Boys Fishing Hat Kavu Fisherman's Chillba Hat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>