This is the fifth installment of the Magnificent Seven, a list of seven different fly patterns that I believe will keep your fly box organized and populated with proven patterns, ready to entice trout on practically any stream or lake . Flies covered in this series to date are The Birds Nest, Zebra Midge, Pheasant Tail Nymph and Rubber Legs. In this post, the Elk Hair Caddis is added to the Magnificent Seven.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Fly Fishing Fly Selection Refined
#5 The Elk Hair Caddis
With fly rod in hand, new wading boots tightly laced, the stroll to the river’s edge was dominated by cobalt skies. Bulky clouds vied to block the sun. The air was slippery smooth. The walk to the rivers edge could have been a walk through a candy store. The midwest river that occupied my yearning was about to cast a spell on me that, to this day, will never be broken. This was the summer day I would catch my first trout on a fly rod. The location was on the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park. Little did I know, the stretch of water I was about to fish is and was off limits to angling. No one was there except the buffalo. The fly I used, the only one I had, was a basic #16 Elk Hair Caddis tied to a 10′ leader cast by a 9′ 5wt. fly rod.
It might be coincidental that the #16 Elk Hair Caddis is the hot fly of the month on the Lower Sacramento River here in Redding, CA. The springtime caddis have been hatching through the better part of February and the next couple weeks of March 2012 will produce continued caddis hatches, putting the rainbows of the “Sac” near the edges of the river searching for countless cripple and emerging brachycentrus or mother’s day caddis! Not normally known as a dry fly river, in recent weeks, the Lower Sacramento has been producing some of the best dry fly fishing I have ever seen along it’s banks. As I watch anglers fishing this classic fly called an “Elk Hair” for short, I can’t help but reflect on that magical moment when I watched a cutthroat roll over my mediocre presentation many years ago, when I was really skinny and had hair. The Elk Hair Caddis is simply one of my favorite flies.
The Elk Hair caddis fly imitation, tied with elk hare, grizzly hackle and various colors of dubbing for the body is possibly the most perfect dry fly ever tied. So it should be no surprise in it’s inclusion to the Magnificent 7 list. The name Elk Hair Caddis (EH Caddis) implies the pattern is good at imitating caddis flies as they sit on the surface of the lake or stream, but the rainbows and browns of N. California rivers like the Pit, Hat, Upper Sacramento don’t care. The fish are looking for just the right trigger that causes them to feed. The tilted back elk hair of this fly pattern can look beetle like if colored with a dark marker. The Elk Hair Caddis fly pattern can be modified, as one stands on the edge of the river, to mimic a PMD. Simply tying in some thread behind the signature tent-style wing of the Elk Hair caddis pattern will raise the wing up, making it appear more like a mayfly wing.
The Elk Hair Caddis was originally authored by Al Troth, an American fly fishing pioneer, fished for the first time for brown trout on Loyalsock Creek in Pennsylvania. Numerous variations have evolved, but non exceed the predictable success that the original Elk Hair Caddis delivers on virtually every lake, reservoir, river, stream and brook that holds trout.
Below is the recipe and associated links to purchasing the materials.
|Al Troth’s Elk Hair Caddis|
|Hook-||TFS 100, use sizes 10-18.|
|Thread-||MFC 8/0 Tying Thread, match to color|
|Body-||Super Fine Dry Fly Dubbing, color of choice, typically olive, cream or tan.|
|Rib-||MFC 8/0 Tying Thread, I just match the color of the dubbing.|
|Hackle-||Saddle Hackle, grizzly, brown, or cream|
|Wing-||Elk Body Hair, bleached, tan or black.|