From the looks of things, we are going to have a very early spring this year. With warmer weather comes a certain insect that trout go nuts over- caddis. There are many styles of caddis flies to match their natural emergence through the water column.
When most people think of fishing a caddis, it would be as a dry fly. In most cases, caddis spend a relatively short time on the water’s surface compared the time they spend in the water. We fish such a wide variety of caddis flies, because there is so many crucial stages in which a fish will predominately feed on the insect. Whether they are in the larval, pupal, or adult stage, caddis are an incredible food source for trout.
Since some of the larva’s body mass is consumed as energy for the development of the pupa, both the pupae and adult both have bodies one to three hook sizes smaller than their mature larvae. That is why we predominately use size 14, 16, & 18 as opposed to a size 20 or 22.
As the caddis go through the different stages, there are certain flies that we use to imitate the insect in each of those stages. In the pupal stage, flies such as a Nitro Caddis, a Caddistrophic caddis, a Cheech’s Green Ninja caddis, Davy’s Trans SLF Caddis and a Barr’s Graphic Caddis work very well. In the emerger stage, soft hackles work very well, so fishing a Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackle would be the best way to go. In the adult stage, dry flies such as Cutter’s E/C Caddis, an E-Z Caddis, a Headlight Caddis, an AC Caddis, a Parachute Caddis, and an Elk Hair Caddis work exceptionally well.
The most important thing to remember when imitating a caddis is olive (or caddis green which is very similar to olive). It’s that green color that trout recognize so distinctively, triggering the bite.
We have plenty of tying materials if you are still engaged in your winter tying program or we can help you pore over the fly bib patterns
With that, let’s talk about what’s been working.
Due to the continued lack of precipitation and fairly warm temperatures, flows for the most part have continued to be low. We’ve still seen a lot of wadeable water at or a little above minimum flow (between 700- 1400 cfs), with short bursts of higher flows between 1,500 and 11,000 cfs.
Wade fisherman can continue to expect to do well with both nymphs and small streamers with the minimum flows we have been seeing.
Midges (ruby, rootbeer, & diamond in size 18), pheasant tails (in sizes 14, 16, & 18), devil jigs (red and copper in sizes 14 & 16).
Also, try throwing a Strollis Quill Body Jig (size 14) or Devil Jigs either by itself or in combination with a colorful attractor fly such as a Y2K or Keller’s Hot Worm. The jigs also make a great lead fly ahead of midge pupa
Highly productive big water streamers include CJ’s Sluggo, Dally’s Twerkin Minnow, Schmidt’s Viking Midge and Double Deceivers, Galloup’s Flatliner, and Lynch’s D&D.
Streamer fishermen should also try throwing sculpin imitations such as large olive woolly buggers, FS Bunny Sculpins, Kreelex flies and Lunch $.
During those times when wadeable water is available (which has been for the better part of the day, if not all day, this past week), nymph fisherman can expect to do well with Garrett’s Purple Death (size 18), Clint’s Sunday Special (sizes 16 and 18), midges (root beer and black & purple zebra in sizes 16 & 18), pheasant tails (size 16 & 18), hunchback scuds (size 16 & 18), and tailwater sowbugs (sizes 16 and 18).
Small sculpin patterns like FS Bunny Sculpins, Slump Busters, and Cone Head Woolies, are also productive when stripped slowly over the bottom. Other effective streamers are Bennett’s Lunch $, Jake’s CDC Squirrel Leech, and Craven’s Baby Gonga.