Elk Hair Caddis





HOOK: dry, size 14

THREAD: olive

HACKLE:   ginger

RIB: gold wire, counterwrapped

BODY: tan dubbing

WING: bleached elk or deer hair





  1. Attach the thread to the hook at the eye and create a thread base to the bend. Return the thread to a point about 2 eye lengths from the front of the hook.
  2. Tie in the gold wire as follows: hold the piece of wire underneath the hook on a 45 degree angle, and trap the wire underneath the hook with three loose wraps of thread. Then gently pull the wire back, aligning it with the shank of the hook, until the end of the wire buries itself underneath the thread wraps. Now continue to wrap the thread with more secure wraps along the shank of the hook until you reach the bend. This will effectively secure the wire to the hook and align it properly.
  3. Tie in a ginger hackle by the butt end (as a general rule of thumb, dry fly hackle is tied in by the butt end, as opposed to wet fly hackle, which is tied in by the tip.) The length of the barbs should be roughly equal to the width of the gape of the hook.
  4. Dub the body. Make sure to stop about 2 eye lengths back from the front of the hook to leave room for the wing.
  5. Palmer wrap the hackle along the length of the body.
  6. There are two tips I can offer you to help you effectively counterwrap the gold wire through the hackle without trapping too many barbs. First, take your scissors and trim the hackle barbs from the top of the hook. As you counterwrap the wire (that is, wrapping the wire in the opposite direction as the hackle), try to position it so that the wire crosses the hackle on top of the hook, at the points where you clipped the hackle barbs. Also, as you wrap the wire through the hackle barbs underneath the hook, wiggle the wire back and forth as you cross through the barbs. The goal here is to use the wire to reinforce the hackle quill without trapping the barbs. If done correctly, you should find that very few barbs are kinked or crimped by the wire wrap. Again, stop your wrap approximately 2 eye lengths back from the front of the hook to leave room for the wing.
  7. Clip, clean, and stack a bunch of elk or deer hair and attach it on top of the hook in front of the body, tips projecting toward the rear of the hook but not projecting past the bend. Make about three wraps and then gently stroke the butt ends of the hair up, above the hook shank. This will help keep the hair clump on top of the hook and prevent it from rotating. Repeat this process several times over until you have about 10-15 wraps of thread securing the clump to the shank. At this point, lift the butt ends and make a few wraps beneath them just behind the eye to lock the hair in place. Whip finish the thread at this point also (under the butt ends just behind the eye of the hook), clip the thread and trim the butt ends such that they are as long as, but do not protrude longer than, the front of the hook. Cement the head and also the wraps that tied down your wing. Your caddis is now ready to fish


As always, feel free to contact me with any questions at smcesari@epix.net or 610-730-7928.