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Latex Cased Caddis

Depending on where you live or where you’ve traveled to fish, the emergence and hatch of the Caddis Fly is among the one of the most beautiful naturally occurring events one can experience while on the water. In many places, the sheer volume of Caddis taking flight is enough to make you stop fishing simply to admire what’s taking place right before your eyes. Any dry fly purist will agree that the Caddis hatch also remains one of the most productive times of year to break out their collection of delicate Caddis imitations and enjoy the feeding frenzy that’s underway.

For some, this event can only be experienced by travelling great distances and hoping that their timing on the water was right. Like all major hatches, while this event is a guarantee – the timing is not. I was fortunate to grow up along the Columbia River in British Columbia where this happens not once, but twice in a year and the outcome is always well worth the wait. Simply by looking out of the dinning room window, I could see that the hatch was on and that the next few days were going to be among the best of the year.

Now, while this stage of the Caddis cycle may be a lucrative time to fly fish – the majority of the lifespan of the Caddis Fly is spent under water and is a major food source all year round for fish. Females lay hundreds of eggs in the water during the hatch and those that make it to the bottom eventually become larvae. A large number of Caddis varieties then begin to build a protective “case” out of tiny pebbles, sticks and other items floating around nearby. This is done in an attempt keep them as safe as possible during their eventual development into a creature of the skies.

The Caddis can spend 1-2 years in this stage – drifting around from stone to stone, piece of wood to piece of wood until they eventually attach themselves, seal up their cases like a cocoon and begin the next stage of development into the Pupa. The Pupae then swim or emerge to the surface in an effort to take flight. Once successful, the cycle then beings all over again.

This tutorial is designed to imitate the larva – or Cased Caddis -  stage of development but fish have also been caught on this fly only a few inches from the surface. The tungsten in this pattern pushes the fly to the bottom but during this travel period the fish have scooped it up so one can even say this can be considered a Pupa pattern as well. I tie this pattern barbless - for a few reasons that I won’t get into during this tutorial – but by all means, tie this on a hook that suits your own needs.

Depending on the species – the Caddis in case form can take on various lengths – some as long as 50mm (2 inches). The hook I use for this pattern produces a fly that’s in the more common 10mm (3/4 inch) range. Always be sure to flip over some rocks or wood in your local waters and make a comparison – adjust the hook size accordingly.

With this said – here is the tutorial. I hope you enjoy!

Latex Cased Caddis

Materials needed:

  • Hook: Dohimoto 2457BL (barbless) – size 14
  • Bead: 2.8mm (7/64) Black – Tungsten - Countersunk
  • Thread: Semperfli Nano Silk – 12/0 Black
  • Body/Case: Virtual Nymph Latex Nymph Skin (3mm – natural)
  • Paint 1: Finecolor Sketch marker – Orange Brown
  • Paint 2: Finecolor Sketch marker – Black
  • Dubbing: Ice Dubbing in Peacock Black (brand of choice)

 Latex Cased Caddis pattern by Fly.Culture

Step 1: Slide your bead on to your hook and securely fasten it in the vise. Lay down a base coat of thread, starting at the bead and working your back to the barb (or imagined barb in this case) and return back to the bead.

Latex Cased Caddis pattern by Fly.Culture

Step 2: Cut the end of the latex into a small point – essentially a 45-degree angle – and tie it in around the half way point of the shank. Stretch the latex into a tight, small strip and secure it down with tight wraps back to the point of the imagined barb. You can start the latex further back, but I wouldn’t start any closer to the bead than the half way point. Too close to the bead means you’ll potentially be stretching the latex past it’s breaking point and will have to tie it in again. Return your thread to the bead.

Note: I took these photos while tying a large batch of this patter. While in production mode, I use white thread for all tying that’s “under the surface” of the pattern. I find white thread is readily available in larger bulk rolls (thanks Semperfli!) and this suits my needs. Feel free to tie this pattern in black thread all throughout!

Latex Cased Caddis pattern by Fly.Culture

Step 3: This step is tough to put into words – but I’ll try my best! Pull the latex tight (almost as tight as possible) and begin wrapping it around the shank towards the bead with each wrap covering half of the wrap before it…more or less. After every two wraps, loosen some of the tension on the latex. This will cause the latex to widen as you go which creates a nice tapered effect and adds a little “plumpness” to the body. Continue this method until you’ve reached the bead. It takes me about 8 wraps to hit the bead and by then the latex is more or less in it’s relaxed state for that final wrap. Capture it with your tying thread, whip finish and snip the thread.

If the body does not shape up properly on the first try – DO NOT GIVE UP. This method gets easier and easier the more you use it. Sit down and tie a dozen of these and by your 6th attempt, you will have dialed in this technique.

Latex Cased Caddis pattern by Fly.Culture

Latex Cased Caddis pattern by Fly.Culture

Step 4: Time to add some color to your fly. I use a Finecolor alcohol based ink marker for all of my painting needs due to them having two different tip options per marker and bunch of pretty awesome colors available. The ink does tend wear off over time – but by then you should have used this fly up. If it’s still alive, the natural latex color acts a fail safe and still keeps the pattern looking edible. Use whatever ink you prefer in a light brown/tan/cream color if available. I’ve even done these in gold Sharpie which works just as well.

Only apply the color in one direction – from the bead to the bend. In doing so, the backside of each wrap should more or less remain in it's natural color which adds depth to the body/case. Play around with this and you will see what I mean.

Latex Cased Caddis pattern by Fly.Culture

Step 5: Add a single stripe of black down the top of the fly. This will provide the pattern with a bit of contrast and adds a bit more realism to the color scheme. This is not a make or break step of the tutorial by any means. Once you're happy with the outcome, let this paint job dry for a minute or so.

Latex Cased Caddis pattern by Fly.Culture

Latex Cased Caddis pattern by Fly.Culture

Step 6: Reattach your black thread at this point and twist on a sparse pinch of Ice Dubbing. I try to twist the dubbing noodle as tight as possible and I usually shoot for a noodle length of around 50mm (2 inches). Wrap this dubbing noodle at the base of the bead as tight as you can while piling it on top of itself. You want the dubbing to be thick (or high if you will) but as narrow as possible. You don’t want to cover up too much of the paint you just spent time perfecting. You may even find that by tying this in tight, the latex will be forced back a touch adding a bit more “plumpness” to the profile of the fly if your original wrapping job doesn't quite seem plump enough. Whip finish and snip your tying thread.

Latex Cased Caddis pattern by Fly.Culture

Step 7: Take a dubbing brush and push the dubbing back with a few firm strokes. This will add some bugginess to pattern which is always a bonus. At this point, you can choose how buggy you want to pattern to be. I like to pull the brushed fibres back and snip them off about ¾ of the way down the shank. Hit the top of your fly with a dab of glue and you’re ready to enjoy this very successful pattern.

Latex Cased Caddis pattern by Fly.Culture


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