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The Fly Fishing Enthusiast's Online Magazine
'The Fraternity of Fly Fishers'
April 7, 2014

"Our tradition [of the modern fisherman] is that of the first man who sneaked away to the creek when the tribe did not really need the fish" Roderick Haig-Brown, a River Never Sleeps, [1946]

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Gambel's Quail – Live fly tying material – Image by N. Travis


Caddis often seems to be forgotten or even ignored due to the popularity of mayflies on spring creeks. They will also hatch and cause trout to rise and will consist a certain part of the trout's diet. Caddis hatches also take place during the warm months (spring to summer) but their larvae remain active and seem found throughout the season (my kick-seining and stomach samples). Knowing food sources and having fly patterns always get you one-step ahead of others. These caddis larva patterns are such examples.


I started my fly fishing adventure on the Au Sable River in Michigan. If you have fished the Au Sable you know that it has spring creek characteristics, and back in 1960, when I started fishing there, it was a tremendous fishery. Since those days I have fished some of the finest trout streams in the world, but given its size and the fact that it was a public fishery, I consider the Michigan's Au Sable during that time period as one of the finest brown trout fisheries that I ever had the privilege to fish.


The dance of a struggling Sulfur mayfly drifted past my waders as I watched the display in anticipation. To the unaccustomed eye one would think it was merely a bug struggling in its death throes, but to the trained eye it was the emergence of life. The diminutive mayfly's wings were bent and wrinkled at first, yet beginning to unfold like the canvas of an age-old clipper ship catching its first wind as it left the Philadelphia harbor. Life's metamorphosis was beginning amid the humidity of a 90degree July day that was slowly waning. An ecosystem born of the rich 58 degree limestone water was providing the hatch pursued by so many fly fishermen like myself.


It was a day that called me to head for a pond. We had more rain again and it was too wet to drive into ponds. So I headed out to a pond near the University. By going there I didn't have to worry about getting stuck.

I started out with a 5 weight graphite and the Tenkara rod. I had tied a few flies on jig heads and wanted to try them with the Tenkara rod. I knew they would go deeper, but I want to know if the Tenkara rod will work that way.


Streamer flies often seem to be tied to catch anglers as well as trout. Some of us, me included, seem to have that dreaded disease called "collectoritis", which sometimes leads us to acquire impractical patterns. But impractical or not it sure is fun and I don't believe that any angler ever has enough flies.

There are some important factors that the angler should consider before rushing off to the local fly shop or sitting down at the tying bench to lay in a stock of streamers. First we should consider why trout take streamers.


An engineer is a designer and has a drive to understand how things work with an eye toward improvement; this definition describes the author of Become A Thinking Fly Tier. Jim Cramer offers sixty years of fly tying experiences in this volume, sixty years of looking at fly tying through the eyes of an engineer.

HARROP'S HENRY'S FORK CADDIS (from the archives)

Learned this one in a fly tying class conducted by Leslie Harrop a couple years ago, and it has become my go to caddis pattern. It rides very low, which is one reason it is so effective. Is it an emerger, a cripple, an adult, an ovipositing female, or a spent or drowning caddis? Only the fish know, and the fish are always right.


This is an all-time favorite of mine.  I am often asked to contribute this dish to the several 'wild game' dinners that I attend each year.  It's simple, delicious and very popular!


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