Al Campbell, Field Editor

May 10th, 2004

Too Simple Elk Hair Caddis
Al Campbell

Sometime around the middle of May, an insect starts hatching around here that gets fish and fishermen alike all fired up. It's called the "Mothers Day" caddis hatch, and it is a hatch you don't want to miss. In some places the caddis are so thick they form clouds that blanket the water when they return to it to lay their eggs in the evening. It can be a very productive time if you are prepared with a few caddis imitations in the right sizes.

A real good pattern to use during that hatch is the standard Elk Hair Caddis. Nothing floats higher or skitters better than a well tied EHC, and the fish love them. However, some folks just can't get past the idea that a dry fly must be cast upstream and allowed to drift downstream like mayfly adults do. Although real adult caddisflies skitter upstream to lay their eggs, many people don't want to make their fly do that, so they let it drift. For those people, this may be a better pattern to try.

The traditional EHC is tied with hackle palmered around the body. This palmering of hackle is designed to keep the fly up high on the water so that it can be skittered across the surface like egg laying adult caddis do. If you leave off the hackle, the fly will float low in the water like a dead or dying caddis would float. Since many caddis adults do drown during their egg laying ritual, that can be a deadly approach. It is also a great approach when caddis are emerging earlier in the day.

The Too Simple EHC is designed to float low in the water. The elk hair will keep it floating, but the body will be resting in the water, rather than above it. If you want to convert this simple pattern to a more traditional EHC, just add a wire and some hackle. You can still use the punch embroidery yarn for the body either way. And, either way, I think you'll like the results.

Too Simple Elk Hair Caddis Materials:

  • Hook: Any standard dry fly hook, even cheap ones will do. I'm using a size 16 Mustad 94840 dry fly hook.

  • Tail: None.

  • Body: Punch embroidery yarn. I'm using olive/tan.

  • Legs: None.

  • Thread: 6/0 - Colored to match the body or black.

  • Wing: Elk hair.

Tying steps Too Simple Elk Hair Caddis:

    1. Start the thread.

    2. Secure the punch embroidery yarn to the hook.

    3. Start wrapping a body.

    4. When you get near the hook eye, tie the punch yarn off, leaving enough room for the wing.

    5. Trim the yarn, and make a smooth thread base for the wing.

    6. Select a small cluster of elk hairs, remove the fuzz and even the tips in a hair stacker. The wing should extend past the hook bend a little bit.

    7. Tie the wing on with four or five wraps of thread. The first two wraps should be loose, then the rest of the wraps should get progressively tighter.

    8. Lift the hair above the hook eye and trim it fairly close to the thread wraps.

    9. Make a few more wraps of thread.

    10. Whip finish and cement. Your fly should look something like this.

I usually tie up a dozen like this and a dozen with hackle. I could probably get by with less, but I always seem to share a few flies when I'm on the stream. Sometimes I even share them with people instead of just trees and bushes. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice