Friday, February 1, 2013

How To Tie An Elk Hair Caddis

I had recently checked out Essential Trout Flies by David Hughes from the Milwaukee Public Library.  There are many nice flies in the book, but I was mostly interested in the Elk Hair Caddis patterns.  The book gives great instructions as well as advice on how to present the patterns.  I learned that if you plan on fishing calmer waters with the caddis, as opposed to heavy riffles and rapids, you can omit the hackle in a size 16 or smaller fly.  Omitting the hackle makes tying a caddis much easier, at least for me.  I can tie about ten an hour this way, which is about the same rate I can lose them in streamside vegetation in my backcast!  And seriously, you're going to use floatant anyway, right?

What you'll need

  • Dry fly hooks, size 16 or smaller
  • Tan thread
  • Dubbing
  • Elk hair

I like to use dubbing plus, well, because it's what I have-- and it can be teased out a little to look more like insect legs.  Working with elk hair is a little tricky when you're first learning. The trick is learning the "soft loop."  What you'll do is hold the tips of the hair tightly in your left hand directly on top of the hook, then wrap one wrap loosely over the bunch and back down under the hook shank.  then as you come back over, pull the thread tight and watch as the clipped ends of hair stand out at crazy angles.  

I don't have a hair stacker, so I just try to pinch a bunch of hair on the hide and keep the ends fairly even.  It's just one more step I can skip to make fly tying that much simpler.  And hey, the trees trout probably won't notice anyway.

here is a video of me tying a size 16 elk hair caddis in under five minutes.

A couple pictures of finished flies.

Size 16

Size 16 close up

Size 18
If you're new to tying, click on the "Fly Tying" label on the right, I have some previous posts for fly tying beginners.  I'm kind of a n00b myself, I just got the hang of working with the elk hair. It just takes a lot of practice.

Tie one of these with its inventor, Al Troth in mind.  Al passed this past August after reaching level 82.  You've reached Legendary status in the fly fishing world Al, you will be missed.

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