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Elk Hair Caddis

Created by Al Troth

HOOK: 900BL, sizes 10-20

THREAD: To match body

RIB: Fine copper wire

BODY: Antron or Haretron to match natural (see below)

HACKLE: Natural or dyed grizzly, palmered

WING: Elk hair

  elk hair caddis


Unlike mayflies, adult caddis are not especially vulnerable to trout when they first hatch. However, they are long-lived (compared to mayflies), and often fall or are blown onto the river. So adult imitations work well any time of year caddis are hatching.

The Elk Hair Caddis is THE standard caddis imitation in the West. It has caught countless trout. The fly floats well in rough water, but will works reasonably well in slower water (see below).


A useful variation is the Hot Butt Caddis, which has a poly-yarn butt-end in a bright color not found in nature, such as hot pink, hot orange, or chartreuse. Perhaps the flashy color first gets the attention of a trout, which then sees the rest of the fly and thinks, "Oh, a caddis. I want it." Whatever. It works. And it can make the fly somewhat easier to spot in low light, such as at dusk.

Another useful variation is the Deer Hair Caddis, evolved by Oregon angler/photographer Jim Schollmeyer. This dressing uses natural deer hair for the wing. The color is a better match to many of the darker caddis species, such as the gray or spotted caddis.

Other caddis can be imitated by using hook sizes and body colors that match the natural insect.

flyMatchHow to match different caddis species

How to Fish

When casting to rough, water you need the hackle. The rest of the time, it's best to clip the underside hackle very short so the fly will ride lower in the water. Dress with floatant.

Dress the fly with floatant and use standard dry fly presentations. The best places are usually near the bank, especially downstream or downwind from overhanging trees or other vegetation.

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