Quill Wing Caddis? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Quill Wing Caddis?

05-20-2003, 12:14 AM
What is the best way to tie a durable quill wing caddis? I do fish some caddis hatches on smooth, flat water and the trout are often reluctant to take the traditional elk hair caddis. I am looking to tie a more imitative caddis pattern that will fool even the smartest trout feeding in smooth water. What caddis pattern is best?

If the quill wing or similar pattern is the ticket, what is the best wing material? I've read that some type of fixative or cement can be applied to quill wings to make them more durable. What is the best product for this purpose? Are there other more durable and more life like materials that can be used to imitate a caddis wing? I have seen something called "Thin Skin" that comes in a mottled brown, which is very similar to many caddis wings. Has anyone used synthetic materials like this for caddis wings? Any recommendations?

05-20-2003, 01:30 AM

Do yourself a favor and get a copy of Gary LaFontaine's "Caddisflies". This will save you a lot of frustration and headaches when imitating and tying caddis flies. It is not a cheap book, but it is worth every penny. I bought my copy when the first edition was first available back in the 80's.

Gary's book has many fly patterns that work in smooth water. I also found that if you intentionally allow drag to set in and skate the elkhair caddis accross the stream, it usually works with selective fish in slow, smooth water. This was a favorite technique that experienced fishermen used on the Missouri in Montana that I used for 11 of the 12 years I lived in Montana; but none of us who used it ever told anyone else what we were doing. We did not want to give away a very deadly technique that we all learned by accident!

This technique works with caddis imitations all the way to size 24. But it works best with flies between #10 and #16 because the tippets are heavier and you don't break the fish on the strike like you do with the smaller flies.

05-20-2003, 08:13 AM
Yeah, Gary LaFontaine's book is "the bible", as far as I am concerned. (My copy is "autographed" by the author.)

Incidentally, there are some synthetic wings - check out and do web searches on "synthetic fly wings"... I think they have web sites that provide them but make sure you specify caddis...


05-20-2003, 08:35 AM
I don't know if this is what your getting at, but, I have pretty good luck with a tape wing caddis pattern. Tied similar to elk hair...but, use packaging tape, partridge, and flex seal to make the wing instead of the elk. It has a great profile. I have also had pretty good luck with a more sparse elk wing and CDC under it.

Bob, I have a signed copy of "Caddisflies" as well.... Pretty cool little treasure.


05-20-2003, 12:57 PM
Not only is Gary's book the best on caddisflies that is available, Gary was a genuinely nice and generous man as well. I used to run into him at tiimes on the Upper Clark's Fork, Missouri, or Big Hole during the 12 years I lived in Montana. Any timie I ran into Gary, he was always ready with an anecdote or just some good conversation. The fishing world was blessed to have had him amoung us.

05-20-2003, 06:37 PM
I still get a kick out of reading "his" publication - totally disorganized, interspersed with lots of humor!!

Too bad he has left us at such an early age!


05-20-2003, 11:46 PM

This was exactly the way Gary was. He always had so many things running through his mind that he would jump off on a tangent at the drop of a syllable.

06-02-2003, 04:56 AM
I too was looking for a more relistic caddis wing to imitate the apple caddis. The guys at West Branch Angler in Ny said to use Swiss Straw for the wing. The pattern that would work is a Goddard Caddis but I can never tie them right. Also a product called fly film. They said to avoid Stalcups fly wing material. FishHawk

06-03-2003, 12:55 AM
I hate to say this; but the guys at West Branch Angler are giving you a line of BS about the Stalcup wing material. Yes, Swiss Straw can be used, but the result is really very unrealistic when compared to a real insect's caddis wing.

You can use turkey sections that are cupped over the body ala Rene Harrop and Mike Lawson do. You must treat the turkey feathers with artist's fixative before tying with them though or they will not hold the shape when fished.

Another thing that can be used is speckled hen saddle feathers tied on is tent fashing, 2 feathers to each side.

Goddard's Caddis is a real pain to tie properly, and it takes quite a bit of deer hair spinning technique to tie it well enough that is doesn't fall apart. And the Goddard's Caddis was originated for fishing the large traveling caddis of lakes so that it could be "skated" back to the caster in his boat or float tube by pulling it back to the boat or float tube. It was not designed nor intended to be fished in moving water.

All of these wings are a bit of a pain to tie, the cupped turkey wings are easiest to learn to tie properly, compared to elk hair. And the elk hair caddis tied with an antron dubbed body is a superb caddis imitation that is far easier to tie than the others.

06-03-2003, 05:06 AM
The Apple caddis has a distinct yellow straw colored wing. A perfect imitation is the Delta wing caddis. I bought a fly years ago that matched it perfectly. They use some sort of hackle tips. As for the Stalcup material West Branch sell is soI feel that they had no axe to grind. The clerk that told me this said that the Stalcup material was a little difficult to work with. I would like to solve this problem as the Delaware trout are very fussy. Flytyer, will take your suggestion about the turkey and try it.

06-03-2003, 11:38 PM

Fish an elk hair caddis in the proper color and size by intentionally allowing drag to set in on a downstream cast, the same as if you were skating a dry/damp fly for salmon or steelhead. You will be surprised at how effective this is (I used this trick on the Deleware the last time I fished it back in 1978 just before I left Pennsylvania for Montana.)

Another thing to try is one a LaFontaine's egg laying caddis wet fly adults tied in the proper colors. Fish it on a dead drift followed by a Lisenring Lift as it straightens out below you.