As evening approaches, the caddis adults do their
mating and start fluttering around the streamside
brush in anticipation of the evening hours and the
time to lay their eggs. If you walk or drive near a
steam during this time, you'll see clouds of caddisflies
fluttering above the willows and brush near the stream.
As soon as the sun begins to set on that piece of water,
they'll fly to the riffles and lay their eggs. Sometimes the
cloud of egg laying adults is so thick, it looks like a fog.
So, where is the EHC most productive? During the time
when the adult caddisflies are returning to the water to lay
their eggs. That last hour or two of the day when caddisflies
return to the water are pure dynamite for the EHC fisherman.
That is, if he or she knows how and when to fish this fly.
"Upstream and dry" is the only way to fish a dry fly.
Right? I've heard that rule too, but it "ain't exactly so"
when it applies to certain flies. The EHC is one of those flies.
When caddisflies return to the water to lay their eggs, they
usually do their duties while flying just barely over the water's
surface. In moving water, egg laying activity usually occurs in
the rapids or riffles of the stream. The adults usually fly
upstream or across the current to lay their eggs. Some
species land on the water and deposit their eggs before flying
away, but they usually have their wings moving to keep their
Last summer I was fishing on a favorite local stream,
working my way along in the shadows of a slowly setting
sun. I'd caught a couple dozen fish and was working
toward the last riffle I was going to fish when a young
fisherman came running down the path and ran ahead
of me to get to the next pool before I could get there.
I didn't bother to tell him I wasn't interested in the pool,
but rather the riffles leading into the pool.
I had caught enough fish for the day, so I sat down on
a log and watched the young fisherman flog the water
for a few minutes; unsuccessfully, I might add. Finally
I asked the young runner if he'd caught anything. His reply
"Not one, and I've been fishing for about four hours.
I can't figure out what to use."
"What you using?" I asked.
"Elk Hair Caddis, about a size 16." He replied.
"That's supposed to be working, but it must not
be working today. Have you caught any?"
Not wanting to rub it in too much, I replied "A few,
none too big. I've been using a size 16 Elk Hair Caddis
too. I'll bet you a six pack of your favorite beverage I
can help you catch a fish in your next six casts or less.
"You're on." He snapped back. "I could use a cold
drink right now. So, Mr. Flyfishing God, what's this
big trick you're talking about?"
"All you have to do is walk up here to the fast water, cast
to the far bank and let the fly drag through the riffles. If you
haven't caught or at least hooked a fish within six casts, I'll
buy when we get back to town." "By the way," I added, a
little unhappy about his smart answer, "I'm not a flyfishing
god, just a little more experienced and a lot more observant
He cast upstream and let it drift back. I reminded him that
the bet was for him to cast across the current and let the fly
drag back to the near shore. He mumbled a few more words
about me being an idiot, but if I wanted to handicap myself that
way, he'd humor me for a cold one.
His fly hadn't skittered three inches when a trout pounced
on it. He broke that one off by failing to play it properly.
Another fly on, another fish on, another fish broke off. In
fact, he hooked and lost six fish in six casts using my
skittering method. I finally shared another fly (he lost all
of his), and some heavier tippet so he could land at least one.
By the time darkness forced us to quit, the young guy's
attitude and comments had changed. Now he was asking
why that method worked when it defied all he was told
about dry fly fishing. I pointed out the way the caddis
were flying, where they were flying, and where the fish
were feeding on them. All I had told him to do was to
fish the fly in the right spot and in the right manner to
match the way the naturals were acting.
He was right, that cold drink was great after a hot day
on the water. He seemed happy to buy it too. He had
learned something, and I hope this little example has
helped you learn where and how to fish this fly. If you
do it right, this will become one of your all-time favorites.
Let's tie up a few.
List of materials:
Hook: Standard dry fly; Mustad 94840,
Tiemco 100, Eagle Claw L059, Daiichi 1180. Size 10-20
For a longer fly, try a hook that's one length longer than
Thread: 6/0 Gudebrod or equivalent, black or
colored to match the body
Tail: None, or if desired, some folks tie a
short tag of red or orange poly yarn or antron.
Body: Anglers Choice Llama dubbing, any
other dubbing that is designed for dry flies. Color to
match the body of the natural (usually brown, tan,
olive or black).
Wing: Elk hair, tied to flare slightly.
Hackle: Brown, tan or cree saddle or neck
hackle, wrapped "palmer style" over the body and
ribbed down with fine gold wire.
Rib: Fine gold wire.