Welcome to Not Quite Entomology

Welcome to Not Quite Entomology! This is a different approach to matching the hatch, or learning which insect the fish are really eating. The flies and methods to make it all work will be here as well. We hope this series will inspire you to go out, look on top of and under rocks, check the stream-side vegetation, really investigate your favorite water and learn which are your local trout's favorite foods!

Cinnamon Caddis

By Ladyfisher

Old Rupe is "off his feet" for a while, and we will fill in for him the best we can. If you are knowledgeable about a particular insect or local hatch, please help us out - contact: LadyFisher. Don't worry about photos, we have good references.

Cinnamon Caddis - Spotted Sedge

The sight of a caddis hatch excites more than the fish - it excites the fly fisherman too! And well it should. Caddis are found nearly everywhere in the world, and in the US some 1200 species have been identified. They live in all forms of moving or standing fresh water, which makes them available to stream and lake fishermen. Caddis are members of the order Trichoptera designating they have hair-covered wings. The tip-off in identifying caddis is the tent-shape of the wing.

Caddis in general start hatching in numbers in early spring (see Little Black Sedges) with the next big hatch being the Grannoms. We have covered the life-cycle of caddis in previous articles here, suffice to say there is hardly a time on any stream when a caddis isn't available in one form or another.

Caddis Pupae The Cinnamon Caddis - Hydorpsychidea (also called the Spotted Sedge) happens to be one of my favorite caddis hatches. We have fished it extensively in Michigan and Montana. We found some size difference between the two places, which may have to do with the very cold, long Montana winters. It is a very important hatch. Carl Richards and Bob Braendle in their great book, Caddis Super Hatches list this hatch as one the Caddis Super Hatches of the Eastern United States: "Most important genera of all Tricoptere all season, usually evening emergence but can come in early morning, sometimes has a light morning and heavy evening emergence." They recommend sizes 16-18 flies.

They again list the Cinnamon Caddis as a Super Hatch for the Midwestern United States, again in sizes 16 -18 calling it: "Extremely important over entire season." For the Super Hatches of the Western United States: "Most important family of all Tricoptera by a wide margin during the entire season, and most important genus, usually evening emergence but can come in the morning."

Tied Cinnamon Caddis One of the things which made this such an important hatch is the numbers of insects available to fish. The Cinnamon Caddis is one of the 'net-builders' which spin a net out of silk and catches their food in the net. They mostly stay in the same place, attaching themselves to a likely spot with the same silk. If the food supply doesn't seem adequate in one spot they will detach themselves and drift downstream a bit. If another larva invades their lair they will fight for the space!

To fish the larva form of this insect, you need a weighted larval imitation, (the actual larva forms between 1/4 and 3/4 inch in length) which is fished drag free on the bottom, using a long leader and floating line. For stillwater, fish your weighted fly very slowly on the bottom in waters less than 20 feet - again using long leader and floating line.

After the transformation from larva to pupa, the pupa emerges from the old case and drifts downstream. Or in stillwaters simply swims to the surface of the water. The emerging adults are very accessable to the fish. I'm sure you know the figures, a trout takes 9 nymphs or emergers for every dry fly. Probably something to do with availability. Caddis are very important food sources for all game fishes! If I were a panfisherman and saw caddis hatching, I would sure try a pupa imitation and then the adult dry to match it. To fish this part of the emergence, use an upstream nymphing or down-and across method, staying close to the bottom and lifting your rod at the end of the drift to match the swimming to the surface by the real pupa.

Al Troth's Elk Hair Caddis is a fish catcher, no question about it. The reason being you can tie it light or dark and match most of the adult caddis. Caddis adults live longer than mayflies, some as long as two months! Which gives great availability to both the fish and the fisherman. The Goddard Caddis is another popular dry fly for caddis.

Blanket Hatch!

The photo on the right can be either a blessing - or not. This is a 'blanket' hatch of caddis. You have insects, the trout are feeding - but spotting your fly in all that mess can be impossible. The good news is the trout become absolutely frenzied and even the big boys come out to eat. If you can find a likely seam or drift be aggresive and tenacious and keep that fly out there. My personal fly of choice on this hatch is the Lady's Fish Finder. Tied with cinnamon hackle it does stand out in the mass of flies on the water so I can see it, it skates naturally on the water, and fits the footprints the natural insect leaves. (If you haven't been following the Flies Only series here you're missing important information on what flies really look like to the fish.) Keep in mind the natural insect is trying to get off the water as fast as they can. Our observations are caddis really don't like being on the water. The take will be slash and jump.

Last but not least are flies for the egg-laying females. The females lay their eggs in a variety of ways, everything from low flying with just their abdomen touching the water, dive bombing and actually entering the water, to crawling down anything that sticks up in the water (including fishermen) to deposit their eggs. That yucky slime on your waders is probably caddis eggs! For caddis which crawl back into the water, or dive in, (both of which swim back up to the surface) soft hackled flies are recommended especially by Brian Chan. I haven't fished them and can't do a personal recommendation on them.

I've been in caddis hatches where there were so many it was difficult to breath, and fished caddis flies when nothing was seeming to be happening at all. Somehow the fish knew what was happening even if I didn't. In doubt? Fish a caddis! ~ LadyFisher

For more on caddis check these out:

Photo credits: Caddis nymph and adult drawings from Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty, published by Jones and Bartlett, tied Cinnamon Caddis fly from Caddis Super Hatches Blanket hatch photo by James Birkholm.

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