Out of the hundreds of caddis patterns that a fly fisherman can choose from, one of the most versatile and effective nymph imitations is the Z-wing caddis. Fished dead-drifted, the z-wing caddis is able to dupe fish repeatedly. One of the best features of the Z-wing caddis is that throughout the greater US the Z-wing caddis is relatively an unknown fly. New unexploited patterns are often more effective than our traditional favorites on heavily pressured waters because trout have not been seeing thousands of them drifting (and often dragging unnaturally) over their heads.
The Z-wing caddis utilizes breathable/ buggy materials like peacock herl and Z-Lon coupled to a curved hook shank to help create a realistic imitation of the live caddis nymphs that inhabitant our favorite rivers. The bead head in this fly adds enough weight to the fly pattern so that you can fish it through fast water conditions, yet the profile is realistic enough that it still works exceptionally well on flat water. Seeing as this fly is such a versatile pattern it is a good all-round choice to fish during caddis season because you can fish a wide variety of water types without having to change flies repeatedly.
1. Start this fly by sliding a bead onto the hook shank small hole first and then securing the hook into your vice tightly. Attach the thread onto the hook shank behind the bead and place a few wraps of thread onto the hook shank to hold the bead in place.
2. Tie down a small strip of fine copper wire and cover it with thread until you reach the point above the hook barb. Advance your thread again to the front of the fly and tie down three peacock herls and wrap them down again with thread until you rear the point above the barb. To build the abdomen for the fly use a dubbing loop and spin some of the light olive antron dubbing. Build a slight tapered body towards the front of the hook shank and stop at about the ¼ mark on the hook shank.
3. Pull the peacock herls forward over the body of the fly and tie the tag end down and then proceed to wrap the copper wire rib up the body of the fly, tying down the peacock herl backing in place permanently. On to each side of the fly tie down a small strip of olive z-lon to form small emering wings for the fly.
4. In front of these wings tie down 3 olive/ yellow marabou herls and twist them into a herl rope. Wrap the herl rope two times around the hook shank and tie off and clip the excess. Again tie in three peacock herls and twist them into a rope like you did with the marabou herls. Wrap the peacock herl rope forward until you reach the back of the bead and tie off and clip the excess herl. Whip finish the thread and cement the head thoroughly.