If dry flies were a fine chocolate, an elk hair caddis would be the ingredient that gave it that extra bit of indulgence. While there are many successful caddis patterns, the elk hair caddis seems to stand out in terms of versatility and productivity.
The pattern, developed in 1957 by Al Troth, did not reach the public’s attention until it was published in the 1978 edition of Fly Tyer magazine. Interestingly enough, the pattern was originally developed to be fished as a wet fly, but when Al realized the elk hair had a natural floatility, he decided to leave it as a dry.
The fly’s popularity skyrocketed when people realized its versatility. An elk hair caddis can be either dead-drifted, skittered on the surface, stripped in the surface film, or even fished as a diving caddis.
If you want to learn to tie the Elk Hair Caddis there is a nice video from Tightline Productions here
With that, let’s talk about what’s been working.
Due to the continued lack of precipitation and fairly mild 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).
Wade fisherman can continue to expect to do well with nymphs, dries, 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 (size 14) either by itself or in combination with a colorful attractor, such as a Y2K or Keller’s Hot Worm. The jigs also make a great lead fly ahead of midge pupa.
Caddis emergers and other caddis imitations have been highly effective as well, like Tailwater Soft Hackles, Prince Nymphs, Gut Instincts and Pupae Delectae.
Highly productive big water streamers include CJ’s Sluggo, Dally’s Twerkin Minnow, Schmidt’s Double Deceiver, Lafkas’ Super Cougar and Lovechild Sculpin, and Lynch’s D&D.
on the lower flows large olive woolly buggers, Sparkle minnows, FS Bunny Sculpins, Kreelex flies and Lunch $ are all producing.
During those times when wadeable water is available (which has been for the better part of the 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), prince nymphs (size 14 & 16), 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.