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Caddis Dry Flies

Caddis Emergers and Dry Fly Patterns

One of the larger freshwater aquatic insects, Caddis (also known as Sedge) are common across much of North America. The famous Elkhair Caddis dry fly is not only a good match for adult Caddis but also for smaller types of Stonefly. The hair wing pattern allows the fishing fly to be both buoyant and low in the water, mimicking either an ’emerger’ (the brief transitional stage from pupa to adult) or an egg-laying female struggling in the surface film.

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More about fishing Caddis Flies

There are more than a thousand species of Caddis in the US alone, with marked similarities in appearance: large, backwards-pointing wings, short bodies, antennae but no tail. Collectively they are a vital part of the diet of freshwater trout and steelhead. In Spring and early Summer they’re nocturnal, but as Summer turns to Fall they become active during the day: they mate in swarms away from water, with the females returning to the surface to lay their eggs.

Elkhair Patterns

Today’s Elk Hair or CDC Caddis Dry Flies can be traced back to a pattern developed in the late 1950s in Pennsylvania by Al Troth from existing ‘hair wing’ designs. Troth hoped for more success fishing hatches of Green Caddis, but his concept turned out to have far wider appeal, and today there are many variations in size and color. Because there are so many types of Caddis, and because they do not hatch, lay eggs or die ‘en masse’, fish do not expect to see them only under certain circumstances, so they tend not to be overly picky about size, shape or color. The vital ingredient is the elk hair because it is this that gives the fly the right wing profile and position in the water.

Emergers and Skaters

Both newly-hatched adults and egg-laden females flutter or ‘skate’ across the surface. Emergers have to break free of the pupal casing or shuck. With the correct cast, drift and retrieve techniques, anglers can mimic these behaviors.

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