Another of the time honored dry flies is the Elk Hair Caddis, it has caught trout from California to Labrador. It represents most of the adult species of caddis flies seen throughout the world. Unlike mayflies, adult caddis flies are not especially vulnerable to trout when they first hatch as they go into the woods for most of the day. However, they are a long lived species as compared to mayflies, and often find their way back to the river near the evening to mate.
The Elk Hair Caddis is best fished in turbulent waters. Needless to say the thick elk hair wings along with a bushy palmered hackle body allow the fly to ride high on the surface. For slower waters it is best to clip the body hackle flush against the underside of the belly of the fly. By doing this the fly will ride lower on the water’s surface creating a more realistic profile for selective fish.
Fish the elk hair caddis with a standard dry fly presentation and try to seek out spots that are near overgrown banks, below overhanging trees, and in or around other vegetation. If the elk hair caddis starts to sink after repeated takes from fish, adding a pinch or two of floantant to the elk hair wing will keep it floating high on the waters surface for hours on end.
1. Start this fly by setting the hook into your vice tightly and attaching your thread behind the hook eye.
2. Clip a three inch section of copper wire and tie it down to the hook shank. Take a fine grade small furnace hackle and tie it down to the hook shank by its stem, and cover it with thread until you reach the point above the barb.
3. Pinch dub the thread and build an even tapered body toward the front of the fly, stopping the body at the 2/3 point on the hook shank
4. Palmer the hackle forward up the body of the fly with even spacing between the wraps of hackle. Counter wrap the copper wire up the body of the fly tying down the hackle. Be careful not to wrap down any of the hackle fibers while wrapping the copper wire forward.
5. Clip, clean and stack a small bunch of bleached elk hair. With progressive with successive thread wraps over the ends of the elk hair, tighten down the patch of hair to the top of the hook shank. Make sure that the elk hair does not rotate around the hook shank while applying increasing pressure. The wing should extend just about to the end of the hook shank and have a slight flare look to it. Clip the tag ends of the elk hair short, creating a small square head for the fly. Whip finish the thread and cement the head thoroughly.