Yellow elk hair caddis


Hook:                Size 14 or 16 dry fly hook 1x long

Thread:             Red or Yellow 6/0 tying thread

Body:                Usual dubbing in gray or light brown. 

                        (Lately I have started using narrow (1.5mm x 1.5mm) strips of closed cell foam for the body, better floatation)

Ribbing:            Small copper wire

Hackle:             Grizzly saddle hackle dyed orange.  I like the Whiting 100-packs since they are already sized to match the hook. (NOTE: If tying a size 14 fly, I use a size 16 hackle and if tying a size 16 fly I use a size 18 hackle).

Wing:                Yellow dyed elk hair or coastal deer hair.

Tying instructions:  First debarb the hook. Secure thread and wrap back to the beginning of the bend in the hook.  Tie in the hackle by its tip.  Next tie in the foam and wrap it forward to about the 2/3 length of the hook shaft (you may consider a small line of super glue to hold the foam to the hook body).  Wrap the hackle forward with the wraps aligning between the wraps of foam. Tie off at the 2/3 point.  Cut a small clump of elk hair and use a hair stacker to even the ends.  Measure the hair so that it extends about 1/3 beyond the length of the hook shaft. Use a couple of loose wraps to hold the hair in place then gradually tighten the wraps to flare the hair.  Trim the hair just above the hook eye to form the head.  Make a few wraps under and around the head to raise the head above the hook shaft.

When using foam for the body I do not use the wire ribbing to secure the hackle.  Instead I apply a small line of super glue along the foam. This holds the hackle in place very well.

Materials & Components 

On many streams throughout Utah one will find multiple species of insects hatching at the same time. On one particular stream I witnessed three species of mayflies, two species of caddis, and two species of stoneflies coming off at the same time, not to mention the small grasshoppers along the stream bank. It is during these times that picking a particular pattern to “match the hatch” becomes nearly impossible since the trout will take whatever is within their window of opportunity.

By observing the different insects I came to the conclusion that if I had one fly pattern that may imitate many species, in one way or another, I would have a near perfect pattern. The elk hair caddis is one of the most productive patterns that a fly fisher should have in their fly box. The typical tan pattern can be hard to see in heavy riffles or during early morning or late evenings. And, there are those of us who become visually impaired (need glasses) as we age, thus needing something that stands out on the water. I came up with the yellow elk hair pattern to meet the need to see the fly on the water and to judge when it is being taken under various conditions.


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