Fly Of The Month - Elk Hair Caddis

This time of the year is when the larger flies are starting to emerge from the lakes and streams, one of them being the caddis fly. Larger than a mayfly, but significantly smaller than a stonefly, trout will gorge themselves on them. If you're lucky enough to be out during a caddisfly hatch be prepared for some epic trout fishing! I was lucky enough to be out in my float tube in the Oregon Cascades during a hatch. We were surrounded by these brown/black flies and the fish were hitting anything that touched the water. We fished until we couldn't see anymore, and the fish were still feeding. I could hear other float tubers hooting and hollering around me, everyone was having a spectacular time. A memorable fishing trip for sure.

So, that being said, every fly fisher should have the elk hair caddis in their box. They can be tied in tan, brown, black, and you don't have to use just elk hair for the hackle, you can use deer and even CDC feathers. Experiment with different materials and see what works for you.

For this example I'm going to tie a brown elk hair caddis


size 12-16 fine wire dry fly hook

brown thread

fine gold wire

brown hackle

brown dubbing 

natural elk hair

First, tie in a thread to match the color of your fly, I'm using a size 12 dry fly hook. About 3/4 way down tie in some fine gold wire to the bend of the hook, then tie in a brown hackle.


Wrap in some brown dubbing, and don't worry about making the fly symetrical, it's not as critical as a mayfly.  


Wrap the gold wire forward about 5-4 wraps and tie off, then do the same with the hackle. Make sure to leave some room behind the head for the elk hair. Trim the hackle on the top of the fly in an angle to help the wing to lie at an angle.

Cut a small clump of elk hair (or deer, whatever you decide to use) from the hide. Hold the clump in your fingers and pull out all the fuzz and short hairs from the clump. Then place the clump, tips first in a hair stacker. Give the stacker a few raps on a hard surface to line up all the tips. Pull the cone out and grab the clump by the aligned tips. 


Place the clump on top of the hook with the tips extending just a bit past the hook bend. Take 2-3 slightly loose wraps around the clump and hook and on the next wrap pull it upwards and tight. You will notice the butt ends flare, keep holding the tips. Take several more wraps like this to secure the wing in place. Tip- you may want to use a stronger thread until you get the hang of tieing the elk or deer hair in place, it is easy to break. I actually broke my thread in this demo. 


Once you have the wing secured, pull the butt ends up and back and take several wraps in front and under the wing to hold it up. Tie off and whip finish. Holding the butt ends up and foward a little, trim the to make a nice little head on the fly. Add some head cement and your fly is done! 

Tight lines!


Erika Forsythe

Avid Huntress

ReelCamo Girl Brand Champion 


Facebook: Erika Forsythe


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