Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Ubiquitous Caddisfly

        Caddisflies are one of the most widely spread insects in the world, especially in the Western United States and Canada. These stalwarts are adaptable to many different ecosystems and can be found in cool freestone streams, spring creeks and cold stillwaters. There are two different types of Caddis larvae--the case builder (periwinkle) that cements gravel, sand, twigs or vegetation to form a temporary home, and the free-living caddis that simply makes a crude shelter out of sand and small pebbles. Their life cycles consist of four stages of development--egg, larva, pupa and adult. 

        When caddisflies emerge from their pupal cases, they swim or use a bubble to buoy themselves to the surface. During the hatch, fish will take these emergers with aggressive swirls, loud slaps and jumping rises. The surviving adults quickly head for the shoreline where they will begin their mating ritual in circling swarms. After mating, the fertilized females fly to the water to lay their eggs in the surface film. Some, however, swim down to the substrate to accomplish their mission. 

       A Caddisfly can be fished in a variety of ways and at all times of the day, but evening is usually the best for emerging caddis. An effective technique is a simple cast down and across the water with or without twitches. Patterns such as the Lead Wing Coachman, a peacock body Soft Hackle, the Stewart Caddis and even the long-forgotten Cow Dung are effective. Scuds and shrimp can be portrayed with olive, gray, brown and pink colors. The shape of the Tied Down Caddis can be drastically changed as a fish’s teeth will tear up the wingcase, but don’t discard the fly. Fish will often take the chewed up version better that the original. This style of fly can also be used to represent other insects that have varying body colors. For example, orange, yellow, gold and black bodies are effective for stoneflies. 

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