Caddis Opus 2020: The Dry Fly

Len came all the way from New Jersey for this PB brown trout with guide Steve Dally and on a dry

THE WHITE RIVER system isn’t known as a trophy brown trout dry fly fishery, terrestrials asides.

But for hatch based dry fly fishing, its generally locals that get to take advantage of small windows of dry fly activity. But the caddis hatch can offer the best shot at a big brown trout on a small dry fly traditional style.

There’s not too much more fun to be had with a fly rod than picking out rising brown trout heads

A lot depends on water flows: do the flows allow the bugs to concentrate in numbers sufficient to bring the browns. Where there are clouds of caddis over relatively shallow water there will be the fish eating.

The late in the day return of the egg layers, hatched the previous day, dotting the surface to release the green egg sack will also prompt surface feeding activity.

Like subsurface presentations, your favorite 5 wt is about the right balance, but some of the newer softer rods like the Sage LL and the Orvis H 3F might find favor with some (Call 870 435 6166 to inquire).

Adding a 3′-plus length of 4x mono to a standard 9′ leader will give you a dry fly leader than you can cast with some accuracy but will also allow enough slack to drift without drag.

If you are losing accuracy, or losing out to the wind, shorten down the leader. Pick a target don’t just fire into a pod of risers. Like duck hunting it doesn’t work on trout either.

Don’t forget a tube of Dry Magic to prep your dry flies and some Dry Shake to get them floating again once you have caught a fish

On an E/C Caddis


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. BUY NOW

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. Good pick with a dropper. BUY NOW

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.

Headlight Caddis: This Umpqua pattern is a favorite early on in the season. The 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.

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. BUY NOW

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 wing is a good match for our bugs.

Don’t forget to add some dropper flies like Dally’s Mother’s Day Caddis or Tailwater Soft Hackles, or Galloup’s Downed Caddis for early in the hatch