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
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.
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.
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
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.