Elk Hair Caddis

Created by Al Troth



HOOK: 1X fine wire, standard shank, turned-down eye; e.g., TMC 100 or equivalent. Size 10-20

THREAD: To match body

RIB: Fine copper wire

BODY: Antron or Haretron to match natural (see below)

HACKLE: Grizzly, palmered

WING: Elk hair



Unlike mayflies, adult caddis are not especially vulnerable to trout when they first hatch. However, they are long-lived (compared to mayflies), and often fall or are blown onto the river. So adult imitations work well any time of year caddis are hatching.

This is THE standard caddis imitation in the West. It has caught countless trout. The fly floats well in rough water, but works reasonably well in slower water (see below).



Other caddis can be imitated by using hook sizes and body colors that match the natural insect; see the caddis pages for details. However, caddis rarely need to be matched as closely as, say, mayflies. For most situations, you only need these colors and sizes:

  • Size 12-20, tan body
  • Size 12-18, green or olive body
  • Size 16-18, black body, black or dark wing

A useful variation is the Hot Butt Caddis, which has a poly-yarn butt-end in a bright color not found in nature, such as hot pink, hot orange, or chartreuse. Perhaps the flashy color first gets the attention of a trout, which then sees the rest of the fly and thinks, "Oh, a caddis. I want it." Whatever. It works. And it can make the fly somewhat easier to spot in low light, such at dusk when a lot of caddis action happens.

Another good variation is the Foam Caddis, which uses a wrapped foam body. This helps the fly float better.


How to Fish

Dress the fly with floatant and use standard dry fly presentations. The best places are usually near the bank, especially downstream or downwind from overhanging trees or other vegetation.

When casting to rough, water you need the hackle. The rest of the time, it's best to trim off the underside hackle so the fly will ride lower in the water.



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