Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Different Winter Caddis And The Swift

"It swims to the surface and then runs, still in it's pupal skin, to the streamside to crawl out onto the rocks" Thomas Ames Jr. describing the Winter Caddis

Backcast a few days ago to the Swift above Rt 9 and to the Y Pool in particular. I had an ok/slow hour or so in the bubbler arm and then worked my way down under the footbridge and down to the pool. I had only one other angler there and he didn't last that long so I had the rare opportunity to fish the Y by myself.

That's when I saw it. That little insect skating frantically around on the surface to find something to crawl up on. A minute later I saw another doing the same thing but this time a rainbow ended that trip. I had just stumbled upon a sparse but interesting Winter Caddis hatch. This is what brings me to the Y Pool every winter!! It's the Winter Caddis.

This caddis is different. Instead of crawling to the shore to hatch or rising through the water column and then flying away this caddis makes it's way to the surface and then runs along the surface trying to find the shore or some object to crawl onto. Fishing this dry on a dead drift is not as effective as making this dry fly move. That means that you have to create an imitation that can withstand some wiggling and tugging and still come up floating. The famous Foam Caddis is the traditional imitation but it never worked that well for me when I imparted movement. I needed a dry fly with the same profile but something that floated longer. I settled for the CDC Winter Caddis.

Hook - size 20 to 22 scud hook

Thread - 12/0 black

Shellback Wing - grey or brown CDC

Hackle - dry fly quality size 20 or 22 in grey or brown

head - Black dubbing

I use a thread body where I tie in a CDC feather with the tip facing backwards.

I then tie in a standard dry fly hackle (dark gray or brown) with enough to fold over the top of the fly.

Next comes a size 20 dry hackle that will be palmered over the hook but clipped short.

Next I fold over the CDC feather forward and tie off.

Next I add a head of black dubbing and that is it.

This fly skates when it's moved due to the stiff hackle stubs. The CDC keeps it on the surface as it's moved by me.

It works because I caught one bow and missed another while field testing.

I can hardly wait to see if I run into another MONSTER hatch at Cady Lane like I did last early Spring. The naturals were everywhere, the trout were rising and I had ONE hit with the foam version.
                                                                           Thomas Ames Photo
The Foam Caddis, a good fly but.......

This January has been kind. I've been working above Rt 9 as I do most Winters and the trout are there and willing. Think small, thing slow, think scuds and pheasant tails. Look for Winter Caddis!!!



Brendan Mackinson said...

Good looking pattern for the W/S Caddis hatch. This hatch is much more reliable on the Farmington, and I've done well there with the classic foam pupa, as well as with griffith's gnats and other hackled patterns, provided that they are skated to imitate the behavior of the natural. I've also borrowed from a Rich Strolis pattern and added thin rubber legs to some flies to help create movement. I've yet to run into a strong hatch of these bugs on the Swift, (just the odd bug here and there), but I carry a few imitations just in case.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


I really want to see this insect in the numbers that I saw last year at Cady Lane.


Ted Van Sickle said...

Ken, I just want to let you know that your posts are invaluable. I fish the swift regularly and I would not catch as many fish without your expertise! Scuds have been dynamite at the Y. I like to cross the river onto the other side and fish on those rocks. The san juan has been successful too (when is it not?). Definitely going to tie a few winter caddis and give them a try!

Thank You,


Millers River Flyfisher said...


Thank you for your comment. Check those rocks later in the winter for the Winter Caddis. They will be running for that sanctuary and the trout will be there!!!


fischmeister57 said...

Ken and Ted,

what size scuds for the Swift?



Millers River Flyfisher said...


Size 14 and 16