Friday, June 14, 2013

Spotted Caddis Refresher

We have once again reached that time of year when the Spotted Caddis (Hydropsyche sp.), becomes an essential trout food for the next couple of months.  Here in the northeast, they are very abundant and they are present wherever trout are found.   And most importantly, trout love these little critters.   The past few weeks my most productive surface fly by far has been an emerger imitation - the Iris Caddis.  The adult is a brownish gray with lighter spots on the wings, and size #16-18.
 

Understanding the behavior of this particular aquatic insect is essential to being successful when they are actively hatching.  You don't need to be an entomologist or know any fancy language either, just some basic identifying information, and you are good to go. 

How many times have you been on the river in the evening and witnessed trout aggressively rising yet there are no insects on the water surface?  And at the same time, you see caddis fluttering about 6-10 inches above the water?  These two questions are the answer to what you should fish - a caddis emerger.  More specifically, a tan Iris Caddis dead-drifted right in the surface film.  In the photo above, all those little pale dots are caddis fluttering above the water surface.  That evening, fish were rising and they took my Iris Caddis like candy.

So what is happening?  The caddis pupae swim up from the river bottom and while hanging in the meniscus, they drift with the current and work to free themselves of their pupal shuck.  Once they have separated their new skin from the old, they literally pop out into the air without spending even a nanosecond on the surface as an adult.  That is why you only see the adults in the air, and that is why the emerger works so well - the pupa are very vulnerable while preparing to hatch, and the trout know it.  The trout feed aggressively because they know they have only seconds once the pupae get to the surface before their meal becomes airborne.
 
Tie up some Iris Caddis or buy a few, and next time you are out on the water and you see the scenario described above, fish this fly with confidence. Here's how I tie them:

6 comments:

Flyltyer07950 said...

Asking again. Your comments about NJ North Branch/South Branch - are you fishing private (club stocked) waters?

Matt Grobert said...

Flytyer - I fish public water 90% of the time - that photo was in a very public section of the river. The SBR holds both stocked and wild fish from the gorge up to Long Valley. I also fish the Musky often, and in PA regularly.

Mr. Q said...

The Iris Caddis,as far as I am concerned is one of the best producing flies I fish..If they won't take on the surface..sink it through the water column and POW!!
They are also deadly on the dangle...

Anonymous said...

I've had more success fish that pattern wet, through the water column. Had takes on the drift, during indicator corrections (pop off bottom), and even downstream on the swing. Great fly excellent video. -Greg

Jaybird said...

I've recently tried substituting the zelon wing with puglisi fibers . Not sure it will make a difference to the fish one way or the other . With so much rain of late , it's been streamer fishing in a big way , best streamer fishing I've ever had over the last two weekends , but I'm locked and loaded for caddis .

Matt Grobert said...

Jay, I've tied a bunch with the Puglisi fibers and fished them. They do work, but they don't float as well as those tied with zelon. Glad you are getting them on streamers!