Fishing the Caddis Hatch at Henry’s Fork

Shayne Harrop Spring Caddis

Shayne Harrop Spring Caddis

In recent years I have sometimes struggled to separate the personal importance of fishing hatches larger than size 18 or leaving the season of gloves, heavy fleece, and covered ears. In most years, however, both comforts tend to arrive together around early May when conditions are right for streamside willows to come into bud and the first caddis of the year to begin their emergence.

Like nearly all willows and caddis, I find it difficult to tolerate long periods of below freezing temperatures, especially while in pursuit of rising trout.  And with the sharp vision of youth now only a memory, my eyes become instantly grateful when a size 14 dry fly can attract the kind of enthusiasm from trout that only the warm season can inspire. Learn how casting and perfectly presenting a dry fly will catch you more fish.

In the U.S., the second Sunday in May is a day of honor for mothers nationwide which, by itself, is of no small significance. In much of the northern Rockies, however, Mother’s Day coincides with the appearance of a sizeable, mostly brown caddis that begins a string of like insects that will stretch into early autumn. And while not always the dominant insect of choice, caddis in a variety of sizes and colors play a substantial role in the diet of trout throughout the most comfortable months of the year.

Like mayflies, caddis provide opportunity to fish weighted imitations in their subsurface form. Cased and free living larvae are prime attractions for trout in nearly any season. Pupae, the second stage, become available just prior to and during emergence and are fished differently than the deep, dead drift method that is appropriate for the larval stage.

MY favorite pupal imitation is a weighted Ascending Caddis that is fished either upstream with a lift or across and downstream with a twitching motion applied by the rod tip. With naturals being active and often quick in their rise to the surface, the take on a tight line can be sudden and forceful as the fish rushes to engulf the fly before it can escape the water.

During emergence, an aggressive rise that moves a lot of water indicates a trout taking rising caddis pupae close to the surface. Duplicating the appearance and behavior of the natural in this situation means fishing a submerged rather than floating pattern.

A floating pupae pattern like the CDC Bubble Back Caddis will imitate the brief but often distinct period between the transition from subsurface pupa to winged adult. Fished on the surface without drag or perhaps with a slight twitch, the Bubble Back Caddis creates an illusion of vulnerability if only for a few seconds. However, this slight window of enhanced opportunity can be enough to attract a trout’s attention.

Caddis in the winged stage are known to be more active on the water than mayflies. Following a traditional approach to dealing with this mobility, I utilize a pattern featuring a dubbed body with hackle palmered along its entire length. This, combined with a wing of paired CDC feathers, provides a light foot print on the water and allows the fly to be inched across the surface when such behavior is called for. Flotation of this style is excellent on most water but I will sometimes add a small amount of elk hair to bolster performance on extra rough currents.

Brogan Harrop Spring Caddis

Brogan Harrop Spring Caddis

The CDC Henry’s Fork Caddis was inspired by big, selective trout feeding in clear and slow moving water. Although this pattern floats quite low on the water it possesses excellent flotation and visibility when compared to most other slow water caddis patterns. I find the Henry’s Fork Caddis to be particularly effective on summer mornings and evenings when the temperatures are cooler and the naturals mostly sedate on the water.

Unlike some who tend to trivialize the value of caddis in comparison to well-known mayfly hatches, I carry a rather extensive selection of specialized caddis patterns. The following four patterns, however, comprise a sound foundation for addressing most of what will be encountered during a caddis emergence and their subsequent return to the water when eggs are deposited and the cycle ends

The following is a sampling of some of the most common colors.

Ascending Caddis Tan

Ascending Caddis
Hook: TMC 206 BL size 12-20
Thread: Tan 8/0
Rib: Copper Wire
Back: Brown Marabou
Abdomen:  Tan Dubbing
Legs:  Brown Partridge fibers
Antennae:   2 Wood Duck fibers

CDC Bubble Back Caddis (Tan)

CDC Bubble Back Caddis (Tan)

Bubble Back Caddis
Hook: TMC 206 BL size 12-20
Thread: Tan 8/0
Shuck: Sparse tuft of Tan dubbing over 3 Wood Duck fibers
Abdomen: Tan CDC feathers looped over Tan dubbing to create a humped effect.
Hackle: Brown Partridge
Thorax: Brown Dubbing

CDC Palmered Caddis Adult Brown

CDC Palmered Caddis Adult Brown

CDC Palmered Caddis Adult
Hook: TMC 100 BL size 12-20
Thread: Brown 8/0
Hackle: Whiting Cree or Grizzly dyed brown
Body: Brown Dubbing
Wings: Paired Brown CDC feathers
Antennae: 2 Wood Duck fibers

CDC Henry's Fork Caddis Olive

CDC Henry’s Fork Caddis Olive

CDC Henry’s Fork Caddis
Hook: TMC 100 BL size 12-20
Thread: Olive 8/0
Abdomen: Olive Goose or Turkey Biot
Wing: Paired Med. Dun CDC feathers
Over Wing: Brown Partridge fibers
Thorax: Peacock Herl
Hackle: Whiting Grizzly dyed dun trimmed on bottom

Fly of the Week – Rhyacophila Caddis

Fly of the Week - Rhyacophila CaddisThe Rhyacophila Caddis is found in almost all rivers around the UK. It’s a free-living caddis, meaning it doesn’t build a ‘house’. The Larvae like caddis favours shallow riffles and often gets caught in the current and drifts freely downstream, this making them ideal food for trout and grayling. The ‘Rhyacs’ hatch later in the afternoon and the adults can provide some great dry fly action when they return to the water. Tying a Rhyac caddis can be complicated, but here’s a simple little pattern we’ve been using for the grayling this winter.

Attach your favoured hook into the vice, here I’ve used a Fulling Mill Czech Nymph hook. Run your thread along the body to the extreme bend in the hook. Wind a layer of lead into the shank of the hook to add some weight. A tungsten bead can be used but I like these on dropper so a lead underbody is usually enough weight. With your thread, make sure you taper the body to give a slim, streamline effect and ensure you cover the lead with the thread, once the dubbing gets wet, you will get a green glow from the underbody, if you forget to do this, the lead will dampen the colour of the body.

For the rib I’ve used the tag end of thread where I first tied onto the hook. Attach two sides to the fly, FlyBox bleach dyed peacock herl is a great material to imitate the legs. Dub a TIGHT rope of dubbing onto your thread ensuring you get a thin from and back end with a slightly thicker abdomen. In touching turns wind the dubbing towards the eye and pull the side legs along the length of the hook. Secure the body and legs in place with the rib with evenly spaced turns. Tie off and add some black pen to the head of the fly to imitate the Rhyacophila’s wing bud cover.

Fly Tying Materials

Hook: Fulling Mill Czech Nymph 12
Thread: Glo Bright No12
Underbody: Medium Lead Wire
Rib: Glo Bright No12
Body: Rhyac Green Dubbing
Sides: Bleach Dyed Peacock – Chart
Colour: Black Pen

Fly Tying Tips – How to tie in Peacock Herl

Even the best peacock herl strands are very brittle, so constructing a fly with a tear and rip proof body is a tough task without bulking it up too much. In this weeks fly tying tip we’re going to show you how to securely tie in peacock herl and create a great looking peacock body that is bomb proof.

This tip was shown to me in a fly tying class probably around 12 years ago, and has saved many of my flies from the death of trout teeth. Use one fly using this technique and another without, you’ll be surprised at the dramatic results.

The tutorial below is obviously just the peacock body. Incorporating this method into flies such as diawl bachs, black and peacock spiders, or practically anything with a peacock body, you’ll strengthen the body tenfold.

Want to know the best way of stripping peacock herl? Watch my video tutorial on “how to strip peacock herl“.

Fly Tying Tips – How to Strip Peacock Herl

A lot of fly tiers, especially novices, have trouble stripping peacock herl. Some describe it as an art, to get all the tiny herls free from the stalk, ready to tie your favourite buzzers and nymphs with very realistic bodies. 

As a tier I get asked ‘How to strip peacock herl?’ fairly often – there are many different ways fly tiers have come up with, from using the blades of scissors to an eraser. Personally I like the old fashion approach:

Need any fly tying materials? Find what you need in Fishtec’s range of fly tying kits, tools and accessories now.

Fly of the Week – Hares Ear Grub

Fly of the week - Hares Ear grub

The Hares Ear is probably one of the most used flies within the fishing community, here’s we’ve tied a variant which lends itself perfectly to river fishing and ideal for targeting trout and especially grayling in the winter months. The heavy tungsten bead gives it added weight to get to the bottom quickly into the fishes feeding zone. Hares ears are very versatile patterns, try changing the colour of the thorax and bead, this will change the fly completely.

Start off by threading a tungsten bead onto your hook. Here I’ve used a Fulling Mill Czech Nymph hook, it gives a great grubby look to any pattern and is also a great pupa hook. Secure the bead in place by butting up a few turns of lead and fully securing with thread wraps. Cover the lead body to ensure it doesn’t slip down the hook follow the hook shank down around three-quarters of the way around the bend.

Take a length of gold wire and tie in at the back of the hook. Take a decent pinch of Hares ear and create a tight, tapered dubbing rope which will reach the thorax of the fly. Wind in touching turns and secure in place with the gold wire rib. For the thorax I like to use a contrasting colour such as black, orange or yellow. Dub a small amount of dubbing to the thread and wind towards the bead, securing with a whip finish at the head.

Scruffy Hares ear for Grayling 

Hook: Fulling Mill Czech Nymph Size 10
Thread: Black UTC thread
Bead: Gold Tungsten bead 3mm
Underbody: Medium Lead Wire
Rib: Hares Ear
Thorax: Spectra Dub Glister
Varnish: Veniard Clear

Fly of the Week – Sedge Hog

Fly of the week - sedgehog

The Sedge hog was devised as a pattern to convert sedge feeders into fish on the bank. This pattern can be fished dry, pulled just on or in the surface or below the surface to attract fish feeding on sedges and other large insects. Part wet fly, part muddler. A very buoyant fly, this pattern gives some great disturbance to attract fish to other flies on your cast. competition bots use these as point flies regularly when other foam or buoyant flies need to be removed.

Attach a strong, but lightweight hook into the vice and run a layer of thread down the hook, here i’ve used a Kamasan B175. Take a pinch of natural deer hair, sort the longer fibers from the shorter fibers and put into a hair stacked. Repeat this proccess three times for the tail and two wings. Tie in one pinch of deer hair as a tail and secure in place.

Tie in a length of FlyBox Hackle in black for the first third of the body. After each turn, pull the fibers back so they don’t get trapped down and create a full sectioned body. Take the second bunch of deer hair and tie in as a wing, the same length as the tail. Take another colour of fritz , here i’ve used red to create a bibio style pattern. A great colour combination and fly for targeting heather fly feeders!

Take another amount of deer hair and tie in over the middle section of fritz. To finish off, neaten up the head with thread and make a few turns with the remaining black hackle at the head and tie off. Apply a small amount of varnish and the fly is read to use.

Fly of the Week – KJ Red Spinner

Fly of the week - KJ red spinnerWith this not so fish friendly weather, most anglers stay in doors until the temperature drops enough not to get blistered by the sun. This usually means fishing into the evening until darkness falls, a magical time of day if you ask me. As the Dunns return to the water to lay their eggs (the end stage of the dunns life) it releases it’s egg sacks on the surface of the river, the Dunn becomes lifeless and is an easy target for any trout and can provide some of the BEST fishing you can ever find.

More commonly known as a sherry spinner, this pattern has proved deadly for me over the last few weeks, helping secure a team Gold in the Rivers International late June. 

Select a favourite dry fly hook, here I’ve used a Kamasan B170 hooks, a light-wire hook which boasts good strength, especially with the chance of hooking a monster. Run a layer of thread down the shank of the hook and stop just as the hook bends into the gape. You need a strong and reliable thread when tying this fly, try using UTC Thread 70 in brown, it gives a flat spread and practically disappears on the hook.

Select four red game feathers and tie them in as the tail. You can play around with the lengths of the tail to achieve the look that you want – I usually opt to make the tails the same length of the body. Tie in a pearl rib, here I’ve used a small pearl strand from a hank of krinkle flash. For the body, dub a rope of coppery/red dubbing onto the thread, just enough to cover 2/3rds of the hook shank.

Wind the dubbing in touching turns leaving sufficient room for a thorax. Run the rib in evenly spaced segments over the body and tie off.

Take a few strands of brown antron for the thorax cover, you can use any colour you like, but I prefer to keep things colour coordinated. For the wings, take two prime CDC feathers, strip the side of each one and remove the ‘crap’ at the bottom. Position on the top of the hook and secure with the thread. Repeat this three more times using each side of the two CDC feathers.

Dub more dubbing onto the thread and wind around the wings, covering the thorax. Pull the antron thorax cover through the bunch of CDC tips to split, this gives the impression of a spent dunn and allows you to see it at distance. You can also add a white CDC post over the back if you like to give it more visibility into darkness.

Fly of the Week – Green Apps

Fly of the Week - Green AppsThis green apps bloodworm is a simpler version of the Red Apps Bloodworm tied last week. This fly consists of just two materials excluding the hook and takes just a couple of minutes to complete. Preferably used on small stillwaters on the dropper of a multiple fly cast, the un-weighted green apps bloodworm will fish well under the bung or as a single fly. Kieron Jenkins shows how to tie his favourite version of this deadly fly pattern – Tie them in a variety of colours and see for yourself!

Take a strong hook and attach it in the vice. Here I have used a Kamasan hook, the B170 Size 10 and Flu Green UTC Thread. You can match the colour of your thread to the flexi floss legs you’ll be adding or contrast the colours to give the fly more attraction.

Run the thread down the hook creating a nice layer of thread on the hook, stop just short of opposite the barb and take a strand of flu green flexi floss. Double the floss up and tie in the looped end, securing along the length of the body ensuring that the all the floss is tied down. Make your way back to the eye and take another strand of flexi floss, double it up and tie off in the same way.

Run the thread over the body a few times to create a neat and even body. Simply whip finish when you’re happy and superglue the body to add extra durability.

Hook: Kamasan b170 Size 10
Thread: Flu Green70 UTC
Body: Thread
Tail: Flexi Floss
Front Legs: Flexi Floss
Glue: Airflo Stik-IT super glue

See more fly tying video on Fishtec TV

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Fly of the Week – Red Apps Bloodworm

Fly Of The Week - Red Apps Bloodworm

Kieron Jenkins shows how to tie the deadly, but simple red apps bloodworm. Tied with just two materials excluding the hook and the thread, this pattern is one of the quickest, most effect stillwater flies to ever grace our fly boxes. The red apps was designed to imitate bloodworm balling in silt, making a very easy meal for hungry trout. Used as a nymph, under a bung or as a lure, this fly has taken many specimen trout from waters all around the UK including many stillwater records!

Start off by threading six glass beads onto a hook. Here I have used a Kamasan B170 size 10 hook as it gives enough room on the hook to comfortably position six glass beads. Attach your thread just behind the eye of the hook and tie in two strands of flexi-floss. Taper the thread and apply a dab of super glue ensuring to thread the first bead tightly to the eye. The glue will secure the thread and lock the bead in place.

Repeat the process at the back of the hook with another two strands of red flexi-floss. Apply more glue to ensure both the bead and threads security.

Tie an overhand knott in a length of flexi-floss and pass over the front of the hook positioning the knot between the middle of the 6 beads. Pull tight and glue in place, cutting the flexi-floss at your preferred length. You could even leave the middle lengths out if the fly seems too big.

One thing to note with this fly is the beads may twist around the hook, but this isn’t an issue as the two at each end should hold them in place if glued and tied in correctly. Ensure these ‘stoppers’ are secured correctly before fishing with.

Hook: Kamasan b170 Size 10
Thread: Red 70 UTC
Body/Beads: 6x Red Glass Beads
Tail: Flexi Floss
Middle legs: Flexi Floss
Front Legs: Flexi Floss

See more fly tying video on Fishtec TV

Written by Kieron Jenkins

Fly of the Week – Mayfly Nymph

Fly Of The Week - Mayfly nymph
The Mayfly Nymph is the first stage of a Mayflies life cycle, preferring to live in silty or sand bottoms, this nymph becomes part of a trouts main food source over the next month or so. The mayflies usually last for just over a month with the abundance of them making an appearance in just one to two weeks. Keep your eye out and be prepared for when the fish turn onto them!

Attach a Kamasan B175 hook into the vice and lay a neat bed of thread onto the hook shank. Mayfly nymphs seem to move like it’s olive counterparts, in short fast darts, so adding six or seven turns of lead will help give the flies that movement your looking for. Run the thread over the lead securing it into place tapering at each edge.

At the tail, attach four or five strands of pheasant tail and cut the excess off. Then for the rib, simply tie in three extra pheasant tail strands by the tail to get a thin to thick tapering effect from the rib. Dub some tan coloured dubbing onto the thread and wind up over the lead stopping around 2/3 of the way along the hook shank. Rib the body with the pheasant tail and tie off. Add a thorax cover of pheasant tail, this time tied in with the tips facing backwards so when it’s pulled over, the excess PT will create legs.

Gently dub a lighter coloured dubbing as the thorax covering the lead right to the eye. Pull the PT over as the thorax cover and tie in. With the excess tips over the eye, carefully split the remainder evenly over each side and secure with a few turns of thread. Whip the thread off at the head and varnish.

This fly will guarantee fish when the trout are feeding on mayfly!

Hook: Kamasan b175 Size 12
Thread: Brown70 UTC
Tail: Flexi Floss
Rib: Pheasant Tail
Blody: Tan Dubbing
Thorax Cover: Pheasant Tail
Thorax:
Cream Dubbing
Legs:
Pheasant Tail

See more fly tying video on Fishtec TV

Written by Kieron Jenkins