I'm constantly looking for ways to improve the
effectiveness of my favorite patterns. Some days
I seem to spend more time watching insects and
the trout that feed on them than I do fishing. I
occassionally discover something I didn't know,
such as a little sparkle in the wings of most
airborne caddisflies, especially during sunset
hours, when most caddis hatches I have observed
seem to occur.
The addition of a sparse underwing of light dun
mink tail guard hair on your fluttering caddis will
make a very effective fly. The key word here is
sparse, for both the mink tail guard hair and
the elk or deer-hair overwing. Caddisfly wings are
translucent to some degree at rest, and especially
so when they're fluttering in an attempt to get
airborne. A good way to determine if you have the
correct amount of winging material on your caddisfly
is to look at it from the top. If you can see the
body of the fly through the wing, you've got it right.
Most hairwing caddis patterns are tied with enough hair
in the wing to tie two or three flies. A sparse mink
tail guard hair underwing and the sparkle it adds
makes this pattern much better than the original.
~ A. K. Best
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If you have any questions, tips, or techniques; send them to