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John Desjardins 05-11-2004 09:22 AM

Elk hair caddis ?
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I decided to tie some elk hair caddis last night and wasn't satisfied with the results. What qualities should the hair used posses? I used a fairly long deer body and while it marginally flared on the #12's (on left) it looks like crap on the #18's. Aside from a shorter hair what other qualities should I search for.?

Dble Haul 05-11-2004 09:42 AM

I could be wrong, but isn't the elk hair caddis supposed to have a hackled (palmered) body?

John Desjardins 05-11-2004 09:58 AM

True Mark, but I wanted a lower floating bug for the spot they will be fished.

BigDave 05-11-2004 10:05 AM


You should try a palmered hackle body as Haul suggested. You can clip the hackles flat on the bottom if you want it to ride in the film.

I always stack and cull the shorter hairs and fibers before using elk hair for the wing. As far as flaring goes the advantage of elk hair is it does not flair as much as deer hair - making for a more natural representation of the tent wing of a grannom.

Looking at your flies I would suggest you use more hair and fewer wraps around it. Try and cinch down the elk hair with 4 or 5 wraps, lift the butt end of the hair and tie off on the hook shank.


roballen2 05-11-2004 10:12 AM

want a lower floating bug tie an x-caddis simply add an antron tail to your above patterns. Also as a fisherman who used lots and lots of elk hairs the flies you showed in the pic look just fine and will catch as many fish as a perfectly tied one..

FrenchCreek 05-11-2004 12:06 PM

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John, these look OK to me and will surely catch fish. The EHC is my favorite fly since we have an impressive hatch (actually two, one spring and early summer and the fall caddis, being different sizes,color for each). I probably go through 150 flies each year!
I've found several important featrures about the EHC that make fisihing them more successfull.
1- Match the hatch, very important when fish get selective. Match the size, body color and wing color.
2- Disregard the above when fish get very selective and go to the "unexpected", try a size 12 when they are focused on size 18 & Vice Versa :eyecrazy: But it works!
3- Tippet connections should be such that the fly moves freely at the end of the tippet, I prefer a "loop" type of knot Vs. the "cinched" knots.
4- I always tie a hackle and trim the bottom as noted by others and also use a very thin "Mylar/tinsel" gold ribbing. This helps in the presentation and flotation.
5- I use various dubbing(s) for the body, color variations as well as flotation variations, mostly to ensure the fly "SITS UP - IN THE FILM" not too high not too deep. Fav. dubbing is antron blended with some guard hair from an old Muskrat fur hat. The guard hair "spikes" help keep the fly at the proper level IN THE FILM.
There are many other caddis patterns that could be a better match to your hatch.
I only use Elk Hock hair for the wings, since it does not compress and/or flare as much as other "hairs".
I often build a "color bubble" into the body, like an egg sack, some are Fluo, green others Fluo. orange or Fluo Yellow.
Here is an example:

FrenchCreek 05-11-2004 12:07 PM

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Same fly, different view

flytyer 05-11-2004 12:23 PM

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Roballen's suggestions are right on if you want the most effective unpalmered elk hair caddis type of imitation. The trailing shuck should be made of antron or Z-lon and using it makes the fly an emerging caddis imitation.

Now to answer your question. the best hair to use for an elk hair caddis from #10 to as small as you wish to tie them is yearling elk (I know it is not the easiest thing to find but it is available, just ask around or look at various catalog operations until you find it).

Yearling elk is very fine textured with very even, fine tips so you get more hair in the wing for a better sillouette and floatation. Regular elk hair is too coarse for the elk hair caddis in sizes smaller than a #10. Also, deer hair is too coarse unless you use deer mask or deer hock hair; but deer mask or deer hock is only good on flies size #18 and smaller.

Another excellent hair to use for the elk hair caddis in Rocky Mountain Sheep hair, which is very hard to find unless you happen to make a trip to the Rockies and stop in a taxidermy shop to buy some trim cuttings. It is well worth finding it though because it is even finer textured than yearling elk and has longer hair than yearling elk making the tying of even very large elk hair caddis easy.

Here is a scan of two Elk Hair Caddis, one is #14 and the other is #18 that were tied with yearling elk.

John Desjardins 05-11-2004 01:07 PM

Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I'll incorporate them in the next batch. Now, I need to figure out a way to get out to the rockies again to hunt down tying materials.

ashbourn 05-12-2004 08:06 AM

Just add a little more hair and move the head back a bit.
I would try Deer Hair with no hackle. It gets a nice full look and should sink add some lead under the body if u want it to sink more.

flyjkol 05-25-2004 12:44 AM

I am not much of a trout fisherman, but ive gotten some pretty cool looking caddis imitations by ribbing the body as previously mentioned, and if that doesnt float well enough, a little CDC under the wing helps. Also I like loosely dubbed bodies like angora goat, that can still create the appearence of legs while not wrecking a good low riding fly. But before you take much of my advise seriously remember the panfish i fish for are far less disriminatory than trout.

Don Johnson 08-04-2004 11:01 AM

hair for small flies
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For small caddis, dik-dik works really well but is difficult to locate. A good sub is some hair commonly marketed as comparadun hair. It is, I believe, a very fine deer hair and is available in a few colors.

Posted image is a Miracle Caddis; very similar to the X-Caddis but with a dubbed head. If you desire something that rides low, catches a lot of fish and is very durable, this one should work for you.

Hook: Daiichi® 1182, Crystal Finish
Thread: Gudebrod® 6/0
Abdomen: Gudebrod EZ Dub(medium) or Ligas “Scintilla” color to match natural
Thorax/head: Ligas “Scintilla” - #83 Ripe Olive
Tail: 4-6 crinkled cream or white Antron fibers
Wing: fine, natural deer hair

For my tying marathon I sub EZ-Dub for the body for the sake of speed.

John Desjardins 08-04-2004 07:53 PM

Thanks Don, I'll give them a try.

splitshot 08-18-2004 05:11 PM

move the head back a bit. to make a dry fly repel water better rub floatant on your hands as you tie the fly. if you want the flies field tested send them to me and i will send them back all chewed up because they look as good as mine. mike

Dave Giggy 12-10-2004 04:20 PM

Be careful of floatant and bug spray on hands tho

Originally Posted by splitshot
move the head back a bit. to make a dry fly repel water better rub floatant on your hands as you tie the fly. if you want the flies field tested send them to me and i will send them back all chewed up because they look as good as mine. mike

When i apply floatant i pinch the hook eye with one hand and apply the floatant (greasy types) with the other. Floatant on knots and eyes = lost fish + lost fly. I mentioned the bug spray cuz it deterioates the leader material so quickly and it also can be slippery.
When tying flies for waterproofing i just drop em in a bottle of "Orvis Nufly-Kote" and leave em over night (i quite using head cement years ago) .

Just checked online and didn't find the above product still listed. However,it is just a liquid water proofing substance.

Hope this isn't too off topic people !

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