Tutorial: The Golden Caddis

This article was recently featured in a full two-page spread by Fly Fusion Magazine - I am beyond honored to have had the opportunity to work with so many inspiring individuals within that issue and am happy to have had the opportunity to share this amazing pattern - I hope you enjoy!

The Golden Caddis 

Depending on where you live or where your fishing travels have taken you, the emergence and hatch of the caddis fly is among one of the most beautiful, natural occurrences 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, in hopes that they will be able to trick a few feeding fish.

For some, this event can only be experienced by travelling great distances and hoping that their timing on the water was right. While this event is a guarantee – the timing often is not. I was fortunate enough 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. By simply 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 some of the best of the year.

Today the supply of patterns for this incredibly fruitful dry fly is endless. In all stages of the caddis development you’ll find a wide range of materials and techniques being used to catch fish with most patterns having their own “twist” that tyers are usually quick to keep a secret. While the combination of possible materials is vast, all patterns (for the most part) will contain one common ingredient: hair.

Every mature caddis imitation will require the representation of a wing. There are a number of amazingly realistic pre-manufactured products that you can buy to imitate the Caddis wing, but for the tying purist who prefers to use all natural materials as much as possible, you’ll find them using either elk or deer hair in the majority of their patterns. This Golden Caddis pattern utilizes natural body hair of a bull elk for it’s buoyancy properties, light colored tips, and its ability to flair as much or as little as the tyer desires with minimal effort.

The Golden Caddis is my absolute go-to dry fly. While I always bring a variety of Caddis patterns to the water, this has caught more fish than any other and as I tweak the odd component or play with color combinations, it only seems to get better. This is a simple pattern that can be fished in it’s “barebones” state as well as extra elements such as a CDC underwing or dubbing loop that can be added to enhance its presentation and overall success. I’m very excited to share this pattern and I hope it brings you as much success as it has for myself and those that I’ve shared it with in the past.

Materials Required:

  • Hook: Favorite dry hook (size 16 – 12)
  • Thread: Semperfli Nano Silk – 12/0 White
  • Tail: Golden Pheasant Tippet
  • Body: Semperfli Straggle String – Copper Brown
  • Wing: Light Bull Elk Hair (Body)
  • Hackle: CDC – Tan or Cream (Optional)


golden caddis fly tutorial

Step One: Prepare your working surface and gather your tools. I recommend the following tools for this pattern: a bobbin, whip finisher, scissors, hair stacker and dubbing loop spinner (optional).

 golden caddis fly tutorial

Step Two: Securely fasten your dry fly hook in the vice. I typically use a size 14 hook for this pattern but feel free to tie this in a range of size 16 – 12 depending on the size of your local hatch.

 golden caddis fly tutorial

Step Three: Lay down a thread base from the eye of the hook to right above the barb. Walk the thread back to the area that’s roughly right over (or just in front) of the hook point.

golden caddis fly tutorial

Step Four: Add your tail. Tie in 8-10 strands of Golden Pheasant Tippet at a length that’s approximately one half of the shank. Tie these in all the way to the eye to keep the shank diameter as even as possible.

 golden caddis fly tutorial

Step Five: Tie in your Straggle String just in front of the tail and begin to wrap it forward. Palmer the fibres back as you wrap and try to capture as few as possible to ensure the body is as full and buggy as possible. Cover about 2/3 of the shank.

 golden caddis fly tutorial

Step Six: Stack and apply a pinch of elk hair. Position the elk hair no longer than the tail and wrap two or three loose wraps just behind the eye of the hook. On the third wrap, pull the thread tight to lock in the hair. The tighter you pull, the more the flair you’ll get. Cut off the butts to form a head.

Whip finish and glue right now if you’re satisfied – this fly is now completely fishable!

golden caddis fly tutorial

Step Seven (Optional): Create a CDC dubbing loop and add a few wraps behind the head of the fly. This adds a touch of buoyancy and, in my opinion, rounds out the look and profile of the fly. Alternatively, try adding some dry fly hackle.

golden caddis fly tutorial

Step Eight (Optional): Try playing with different color combinations. Match the tippet to the tying thread and experiment with what works best in your area. I’ve had great success with red, blue and green combinations. Try also using peacock herl as the body material for added contrast.

Older Post Newer Post