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Pete's Caddis Chronicles

By Pete Rosenau June 03, 2021


    There are more caddis fly patterns than any one person could fish properly in a lifetime. And they’ll all catch fish. I’ve tied and fished many caddis bugs, but there are a few that produce on a different level. I’d like to discuss a few of those patterns and why they have a special place in my fly box.
     Let’s begin with the Cased Caddis by Gary LaFontaine. Simple, realistic and puts fish in the net all day. Gary was a true student of bug behavior and how trout interacted to key features during insect life cycle stages. That brings us to his Deep Sparkle Pupa. This iconic pattern features Antron to replicate the shiny air bubble produced by gasses freeing an exoskeleton. That little difference from a standard pupa absolutely made the difference on enough days to become a mainstay. I’d like to mention the Emerger Sparkle Pupa by Gary as well. When it comes to catching fish you are flat out missing a ton of opportunities if you neglect the emerger patterns. This one happens to be simple and produces fish.

     Now for one of the bugs I love to hate, the Goddard Caddis. On the other side of the pond this fly is more commonly known as the G. and H. Sedge. That name is the culmination of John Goddard and Cliff Henry. The fly was designed and tied by Goddard who had many great patterns, but none as well known as this beauty. Not the easiest of flies because of the daunting task of spinning hair, but once you become proficient they are one of the most fun dry flies you can toss. Floats all day and has the perfect profile for skinny water and picky fish. Priceless.

     For a jump to a modern fly that will undoubtedly go down in tying history as a classic is the Kryptonite Caddis by Juan Ramirez. I’ve fished this fly during hatches and as far from them as you can get. The result is the same. You catch fish. Not much better than a relatively simple fly that catches anytime, anywhere, but also connects to new fly fishers and fishing youth. Anyone can look at Juan’s bug, see anything buggy whatsoever in the water and almost instantly make the connection between fish and food source. That vaults Juan’s Kryptonite Caddis to the top of any list.
     Of course I’m going to mention the Elk Hair Caddis by Al Troth. Even most non fly fishers know this true icon. Not much needs to be said about this fly except for me it connects the history of tying to the newer tyers and fishers. It’s a simple enough fly to encourage beginners with enough room for variants to challenge any pro. And it’s caught millions of fish. Enough said.

     I’ll finish my Caddis rant with the Beadhead Caddis Pupa. I’m not sure in the long list of tyers who gets credit for this fly, but for this example I’m picturing the bug described by Dave Hughes in his book Trout Flies. Hook, bead, some dubbing, hackle and wire if you’re feeling extravagant. Workhorse type of fly that you can easily crank out by the dozens and never have to wonder if you’ll find fish. That’s a fly worth putting in the rotation.

     Thanks for playing along. There are so many great caddis patterns that didn’t get highlighted this time, but perhaps we’ll revisit the Caddis Chronicles and delve a bit deeper. Until then go try some new patterns at the vise and on the water. The more you know, the more you know.

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