The caddis are coming, the caddis are coming

Caddis hatches haven’t kicked in just yet so it takes a mixed bag of tricks to fool fish.

Mayfly hatches are about over but they convinced fish to begin looking up which is a good thing. At this point in time we say “They’re in transition”. There are always a few transition days every season, between major mayfly hatches and the start of much anticipated caddis hatches when fish seem to lay low and aren’t feeding on any one thing or on a regular schedule. Anglers say, “You can set your watch by the mayflies hatches” so when they’re hatching you settle into a routine of nymphs & streamers all morning and dries all afternoon. At 12:01 you can count of seeing the daily cycle of mayflies hatches begin like clockwork. But once mayfly hatches fade away fish seem to be in a funk before the caddis blizzard hatches begin. They’ll pick at this and that but don’t seem to be focused on any one activity or time of day.

You’ll get one fish to chase after a streamer dancing around out behind a floating line, another will sip a soft hackle wet fly fished meticulously just under the surface, yet another may choose a bright green body nymph or black stone bounced along the bottom and or another will grab a royal coachman parachute fished dry. If it’s not working trying something different, is the best answer when  transtion days are on. But the indecision fish are experiencing is about to end end as soon as caddis season kicks in, which is any day now. Once caddis appear in earnest the perfect drag free drift isn’t always the answer for fooling fish.

If you get the opportunity to observe a mayfly hatch you’ll see mayfly after mayfly sitting atop the surface film drifting along motionless while their wings dry then pop off the water and take to flight. Caddis on the other hand are tiny explosive canisters that blow open just under the surface and the winged adult takes to flight as soon as it breaks through the surface film. It’s like they magically appear. The issue with hatching subsurface is there are many malfunctions in the system. Adult caddis make it to the surface but can’t that to flight because a wing got wet so they flop around on the surface trying desperately to fly. Sit back and observe a caddis hatch and you’ll see lots of cripples flip flopping around on the surface. Many times fish key on cripples, they’re easy targets and easily spotted bouncing about. Many times your key to success is make your fly imitated one of those crippled caddis. It’s easy enough to do. As your fly dead drifts along on the current give your rod tip a tiny twitch so your fly scoots a couple inches then let it dead drift and more available for a fish to grab. There are many times, especially during major caddis hatches the twitch draws way more strikes than the dead drift.

Around these parts the sequence in which caddis hatch happen begins with a bright green bodied elk wing caddis. Until they start we’ve been fooling fish with chartreuse nymphs, bright green soft hackle wets and green streamers. Next in line are the olive body elk wing caddis, then tan, then dark wing caddis like the west branch caddis. That should take us into July and summer caddis hatches.

Caddis season is a fun time when all does not have to be perfect to fool fish except the correct color body which means everything. Start by rattling river side alders before you step a foot into the river. When you spot a caddis on a leaf, the bug with a pitched roof for a wing, grab it and flip it over to see the body color. Match the color and the size and you’ve quickly solved what you should be using to fool awaiting fish.

River flows could not be any better all around. It’s a majically time on moving water. Don’t miss out.

Bugging for smallmouth is top shelf. The spawn is over and they’re on the stumps, but don’t tell anyone.

The fish on the eye high leap photo above took the lead fly with the dropper visible on the short leader above the salmon. Very cool.