The profile of an adult caddis could be be caricatured as an enormous set of tent shaped wings and long, full abdomen about as graceful as a 747 on takeoff.
In flight they seem well overly busy, like Chad’s wiener dogs, there is a flurry of movement with relatively little forward progress. Not the light, ethereal dance of the mayfly. If a caddis were an aircraft you would think the cockpit is permanently full of red flashing lights and stall alarms.
In flight the wings are deceptive, rotating forward from that distinctive folded delta wing seen at repose. Equally deceptive is the way the color of the wings appear in motion. On the wing you would think our rhycos and grannoms possess pale, almost creamy wings until you snatch one from the air, opening your palm on slatey-grey.
No matter the bumbling flight, the caddis’ lesser status as dry fly, the White River caddis hatches of spring (and fall) represent perhaps our finest dry fly fishing of the season. Nymphing, or swinging wet flies may be more productive but its nigh on impossible to give up the chance to fish dry and see the take. Especially those famous slashing caddis takes.
The Journal has one of those weird theories about the caddis, that they are catnip for trout. Seriously the White River trout go goofy on the adults and emergers. Perhaps like a dog on a windy day, its just all the extra movement of the rising caddis, or something about the flavor of the juicy green bugs. But one thing’s for certain hook some caddis feeders on low water and the trout go nuts. Its a whole lot of fun
Read on for our selection of dry flies for the White River Caddis Hatches:
Headlight Caddis: This Umpqua pattern has proved to be our best dry for the Spring Caddis. The thing floats, rides low with a parachute hackle and most important that snow white calf post stands out like a 3-piece suit at Wildcat Shoals. The other thing we like is its not a one fish fly, it holds up suprisingly well to a hectic hatch. Buy them, fish them.
Ralph Cutter’s E/C Caddis has been Chad’s favorite caddis dry for a long time. The pattern has its roots in the classic Elk Hair Caddis but with a flatwater twist of a parachute tied underneath the elk hair butts, and a trailing shuck. Its deadly like the Headlight Caddis but harder to see in the faster water.
THE Spotlight Caddis Emerger joins our caddis stable this season, and we think it had good possibilities with a lot of the benefits of the Headlight Caddis with some subtlety. This one might be a good bet on those picky bigger browns who really do like a juicy caddis.
The Elk Hair Caddis: Al Troth’s Montana classic has a place in every flybox. Its might not be the sexiest or newest in our selection but its proved its worth year after year. The wing provides a good sight on the fly, and the bouyancy to float in moderate riffles and importantly allows this fly to be skittered across the flatter pools.
The palmered body hackle also holds the fly up off the surface, perhaps imitating a low flying adult. Its also a great nondescript, in the smaller sizes can work as a pretty decent little midge. For the current hatches hold a selection in olive and tan from 14-18. Its hard to go wrong with the Elk Hair. NB: if you are tying this yourself add a bright green tag to the bend.
Slow-Water Caddis (Ginger): Ginger you say, well the magic is the apple green belly which is a delicious match for our green caddis. Though I have to say the profile of the ginger wing is superb. As the name indicates the Slow-Water Caddis is not one to be tossing into the heart of the riffles at Roundhouse, but would come into its own down at Armstrong or similar oily smooth flows.
The Clownshoe Caddis looks a little goofy with the bright pink parachute post, but in the fast water or harsh glare its going to be easily spotted. Subsurface the Clownshoe is pretty cool with a nice body. Not a fly we would pick for the slow flats but its going to be a great dry and dropper pattern.
Outrigger Caddis: Former Umpqua rep Uncle Cary Marcus, no slouch on Arkansas tailwaters, has this fly pegged as a favorite. This year it has been somewhat overlooked but the profile and color on this fly is outstanding. Get some
Mike Lawson’s E-Z Caddis is similarly easy to spot in a riffle or a flat glide. The parachute post is easy to find, it has a great profile and offers a goodly chunk of “meat” for the fish to spot. More subtle than the dayglo Headlight Caddis, there is little doubting its effectiveness, perhaps on better quality more educated fish.