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Caddis - the river's gift to the flyfisherman

1624 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  October Caddis
I don't know about you, but my 12 years of bliss in the PNW were largely made so by the presence of a lowly little moth-like creature called the giant october caddis. Pteranarcus helped out a lot too, especially in July, but the real heydays came when the sedge cycle got underway.

Each late summer morning that I got to fish, the rocks would be lined with pink shucks. I've gone as far as opening up the cases to make sure they were the source of all the shuck shedding sedges and sure enough the larvae were all in various stages of development from white featureless grub to orange martian bodies to wiggly adult inside the protective membrane.

I've tied flies for all phases and have caught a huge percentage of summer runs on caddis based patterns as have many before me (that's where I got the idea of course). What I don't have any concept of is the process of how these shucks get onto the rocks overnight.

It's clear that they have swimmeret legs, like a water strider or boatman beetle. I have read that they have been observed ricocheting off the sides of an aquarium by those even more curious than I.

If they do make an active swimming escape to the ether from the watery realm, do they do it at night? The morning shucks would indicate so. If so, do the steelhead chase them under the moon like they do during the day? Flyfishing at night has always intrigued me. It works great for eastern seaboard species, even for trout in stillwater. Joe Brooks writes of not bothering to fish for a trophy trout in a river until after dark, when you should return with a very large lure or live frog (yes, that's what it said) to catch the giant trout in it's night time lie.

What do we not yet know about the sedge that would open more doors than they already have for FF'ers?
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My first steelhead on a fly came on september 25 1985. On the Washougal river. a tan steelhead caddis was the fly. Just a week before i had a discussion with Bill McMillian about all the fish i had been able to rise but not hook. He mentioned that steelhead often will come up and try to suck the fly in instead of grabbing it outright. It took steady nerves but when that fish came up I dropped my rod tip as i was instructed. 10 minutes later I had a 10 lb buck in the shalloes and released it. I think the steelhead caddis riffle hitched is the single best skater you can use.
Back in thoes days fishing was fun it wasn't a matter of whether you were gonna see anything it was a matter of how many you were going to hook. Blank days in the summer were extremely rare. Now on the Washougal you can go weeks even years without a hook-up.
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I have watched October Caddis come screeming out of the river a few times, but for all that you see on the rocks still in thier cases you think you would see many more taking flight.
The OC is my faveriote fly by far to fish for Summer fish. I use to fish it dry until I started to fish it as a soft hackel just under the surface and it made a V wake across the current. Had much better luck fishing it that way. One day I tied some up that were weighted and fished them with a floating line but would put a big mend in line and let fly sink till line pulled tight. the results were astounding as my hookups increased dramatically. Seems like every strike would come just as the fly reached the surface or about a foot into it's surface swing and the takes are violent compared to the other types takes we normally get while fishing wakers and such.
Can remember years ago on the Henerys Fork just below the dam where trout were more the size of steelhead and one would fish them as such that these fish sometimes would launch themselves three feet into the air after giant Caddis that had just rocketed out of the river. So I've just got to wonder if a steelhead sees an emerging Caddis in front of him and the fast rise of that caddis triggers the fishes impulse to strike.
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