Brachycentrus adult image from Troutnut.com
We may, as I’ve heard it said, be known in the greater fly fishing stratosphere as the guys tossing the big chicken at trout. And certainly our crew is pretty eaten up about the whole streamer deal, but you want to see this mob get excited mention the Caddis.
Caddis brings an end to the grind of winter fishing, the heavy clothes can be shed, away go the big sticks and out come the 4s+ 5s and there is a giddy dive for the necessities, flies, mono tippet, dry shake etc. Caddis time is a break from the streamer season, a chance to ease back the throttle, mend tired arms and backs and have some fun.
The profile of an adult caddis could be be caricatured as an enormous set of tent shaped wings and long, full abdomen about as graceful as a 747 on takeoff. In flight they seem well overly busy. Just like Chad’s wiener dog after a treat, there is a flurry of movement with relatively little forward progress. Not the light, ethereal dance of the mayfly. If a caddis were an aircraft you would think the cockpit is permanently full of red flashing lights and stall alarms.
A distinctively green Brachycentrus adult belly -Troutnut.com image
No matter the bumbling flight, the caddis’ lesser status as dry fly, the White River caddis hatches of spring (and fall) represent perhaps our finest dry fly fishing of the season. Nymphing, or swinging wet flies may be more productive but its nigh on impossible to give up the chance to fish dry and see the take. Especially those famous slashing caddis takes, caused by the rapid ascent of the pupa, and the alacrity of the trout in trying to foil the escape.
The Journal has one of those weird theories about the caddis, that they are catnip for trout. Seriously the White River trout go goofy on the adults and emergers. Perhaps like a dog on a windy day, its just all the extra movement of the rising caddis, or something about the flavor of the juicy green bugs. But one thing’s for certain hook some caddis feeders on low water and the trout go nuts. Its a whole lot of fun.
Read on for our selection of dry flies for the White River Caddis Hatches:
Ralph Cutter’s E/C Caddis has evolved into our most consistent producer over recent seasons. The pattern has its roots in the classic Elk Hair Caddis but with a flatwater twist of a parachute tied underneath the elk hair butts, and a trailing shuck. Its very good everywhere but the fastest roughest water. Early on carry 14s and 16s, later into April you will need 16s and 18s. Carry plenty.
Headlight Caddis: This Umpqua pattern is a favorite early on in the seasonThe thing floats, rides low with a parachute hackle and most important that snow white calf post stands out like a 3-piece suit at Wildcat Shoals. The other thing we like is its not a one fish fly, it holds up surprisingly well to a hectic hatch. Buy them, fish them.
Harrison Steeve’s is known to take a, lets say different approach, on fly patterns. But his Masquerade Caddis has all the Caddis essentials, with a great profile and a nice color. Its foam construction keeps it floating and is a good choice when you are prospecting early in the hatch with a heavier dropper fly
The Elk Hair Caddis: Al Troth’s Montana classic has a place in every flybox. Its might not be the sexiest or newest in our selection but its proved its worth year after year. The wing provides a good sight on the fly, and the bouyancy to float in moderate riffles and importantly allows this fly to be skittered across the flatter pools.
The palmered body hackle also holds the fly up off the surface, perhaps imitating a low flying adult. Its also a great nondescript, in the smaller sizes can work as a pretty decent little midge. For the current hatches hold a selection in olive and tan from 14-18. Its hard to go wrong with the Elk Hair. NB: if you are tying this yourself add a bright green tag to the bend.
Slow-Water Caddis (Ginger): Ginger you say, well the magic is the apple green belly which is a delicious match for our green caddis. Though I have to say the profile of the ginger wing is superb. As the name indicates the Slow-Water Caddis is not one to be tossing into the heart of the riffles at Roundhouse, but would come into its own down at Armstrong or similar oily smooth flows.
Arkansas River Egg Layer: This one is going to raise a few eyebrows but its proved its worth on the Arkansas River, whose caddis is similar to ours. The dark purple front is highlighted by the bright green egg sac, a trigger of our browns and the winge is a good match for our bugs.
MAKTIMA’s FEAST BEAST CADDIS: Oooh you are going to like this one. Huge eye appeal in the bin, with a lot of sparkle and all the right colors. Hope to give it a test tomorrow