Tag Archive: caddis larva

Photo by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle

There are essentially two larva stages of the caddis life cycle, the only major difference is species other than that is how they live in their laval stage which amounts to the fact they either make a case and reside in it during their growth or they are termed as free swimmers or net spinners.

In either cases both are vulnerable to trout either by the fact that trout pick them up from the stream bed or they become vulnerable during the stages of behavioral drift. That is when the larva by choice choose to use the natural movement of the stream to move further downstream.

In the case of our tail waters often as not caddis larva are forced to move as water levels rise and fall or are subject to the force of water flow that dislodges them from the substrate, either way there are many zones through the White River system that contains many millions of caddis larva of the different species known to habit our waters.

Depending on the caddis species and the available matter which would include aquatic vegetation, gravel, sand all of which are if you like house building materials. Some species are in fact very particular in so far as what they choose to use to form the case which is also a means to identify specific species.

Bear in mind also that after the egg of the larva is deposited by the adult caddis there is growth, in some cases caddis larva will produce a case as long as 2 inches, often known as stick caddis, in this case generally formed from small sticks.

There are many fly patterns tyed to represent either the free swimmers or cases caddis, that said in general terms it is not necessary to go to great lengths to tie elaborate fly patterns, all that is generally needed is a good representation of the caddis case. Often as not due to the fact that you need to fish the fly close to the river bed losses can be high.

In our case for the White River, caddis larva particularly at this time of the year are a good bet for sure, more to the point both Bows and large Browns love ’em. Do not let the high water deter you from fishing caddis larva, sure the water levels may change but the larva are still there. 

Past two days at Rim have produced for my fisherman some 1st class fishing.

Many of the materials you need for these flies are low cost such as peacock herl, hares ear dubbing in different colors of tan and olive. 

You may add a bead head or another preferred alternative is to lead the hook shank, which is one of my preferences or you can use the free bead method which gives you the choice of both bead color and weight.

My rigs are set up by 4 methods and generally include a dropper,normally a white tail midge.

If there is one big mistake anglers make it is fishing weight either too close to the fly or too much weight or both, it is largely a issue related to your overall leader length and the drift time to allow for the flies to sink to the productive zone.

1st Rig is simply build by tying a stop knot 1ft below this a detached dropper 1ft below that is the position for the tail fly, normally the caddis larva is tied to the dropper, weight is added above the stop knot.

2nd Rig is built by tying a dropper, 1ft to 15 ins below a stop knot 1ft to 15 inches below the tail fly is tied. Weight is added above the stop knot.

3rd Rig is built by tying a dropper, 1ft to 15 inches below a bead of choice, put on the leader then the caddis larva is tied for the tail fly.

4th Rig is built by tying a dropper, 1ft to 15 inches below the second dropper, below that 1ft to 15 inches, next you tie a stop knot, your weight is added above this stop knot.

Why do l choose to use different rigs, the answer is very simple, they all cause the flies to drift in a different manner to the stream bed, one of which will be the lost productive, the other main reason is due to the nature of the substrate l am fishing over, is it clean gravel, rocky bottom. Further the above rigs are also related to all other means of fishing a two fly nymph rig.

Caddis Flies tied by Davy Wotton July 2016 (Photo by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle)

There are many variations tied to represent caddis cases, that is more close copy by sticking to the hook shank small stones, grit, sand, snails and so on, not to mention those patterns termed as peeping caddis with and without legs.  My long term experience is this, they may look real good in the vice are they more practical than a simple pattern, l have never found this to be the case !!

I prefer to tie my flies on small jigs hooks sizes 12/14 and in some cases where there are larger cases larva 10s and even size 8 long shank hooks.

Weight can be added either by bead or a lead wire underbody, the deal is this, you need to fish the fly close to the river bed, too much weight and you will have hang ups and lost flies. My rigs explain further how to rig up for your drifts. The advantage of jig hooks is they hang up way less

Two tips l will give you is not too make the patterns too flashy, black and copper beads are good if you use them. 2nd reverse rib the fly body with peacock herl or ostrich herl, this adds more effect to the fly body.

Caddis larva that are non case makers are a different deal here so far as suitable fly patterns. Two being most used is the green inchworm and hydropsychidae larva all be it this species forms a caddis case.

Dave Phillips with a rare Rim Shoals Trophy Rainbow Trout  measures  22″ x 16″. Caught on a DW Cased Caddis _ Davy Wotton image. July 2016


For a while the lower water levels which have for the past few weeks been killer for us but, fishing DW Traditional Style Wet Fly Rigs and light Nymph Drift Rigs are full of great memories so far as overall numbers of fish and some 30 plus browns from 15 up to 25 inches- not to mention the many lower class fish which during the now high water flows.
But they will pack on weight.


A nice broad tail and beautiful color suits Mark Shultz just fine. Davy Wotton photo

Needless to say, Bull Shoals Dam Zone has always been for me, a “go to zone”, and mainly due to the fact it is about the only zone on the river you are likely to catch trophy bows, that is, fish in the 16 to 24 inch range.
That said, l am not so sure now days that we will once again see the 5 to 8lb fish we used to catch, but you never know; there may well be a few fish of that caliber lurking around.

Higher Water
High water being in my opinion, what is needed to get those larger fish on the take, as of yet we have boated a bunch in the 15 to 20 inch range, but as yet not larger fish, sooner or later that will be the case.
The past two days at the dam have produced some 70 plus fish, one of my regulars, Bill, having a great day with 37 fish, not to mention the many he lost or broke off.

Rigging For Deeper Water
For many fishing deep water Nymph
Rigs are a problem. Long leaders are mandatory 14 to 16 feet at time, added weight creates further issues so far as casting.
Fact is, if your flies are not running close to the river bed- then good luck. Your hook ups are going to be few and far between. 

Now a common misconception is that you cannot use small flies, not true, far from it.
Fact is, the food base does not change when they run high water.
Midges, scuds, sowbugs, aquatic worms, snails, caddis larva, and mayfly nymphs are still on the menu, granted larger food sources such as bait fish and crawdads are also included, not to mention the many terrestrial bugs, beetles, spiders, ants, and all manner of flying bugs.

Dead Drift With An Indicator And Weight
Fact is this when fishing dead drift with indicator rigs the lower levels of the water move slower than the surface which is the influence so far as how you can control speed of the flies fished below.
Added weight is of course needed, how you position that weight can make a difference.
In otherwords there are mainly three options:
(1) weight is added above the flies,
(2) below or between, or
(3) combinations of the three.
All of which will present the flies in a different manner, or how they are influenced by under water hydraulics. Weight is the influence of the anchor and effect how the flies are able to animate above or below; that is the issue here.

Personally, l favor to use flies with none or very little weight. The surface movement is the relationship as to how the weight to the indicator/fly line creates a tension; in other words, it is a drag effect, the fly is being pulled along or able to move freely depending on how you have set your rig.

The use of long rods are a great asset when fishing long leaders. 10 foot is good, 11 foot even better.
l in fact have a custom made 12 foot rod. Line weights 4 to 6 are ideal and in the case of using long leaders with weight a WF profile is preferred. Here distance is generally not a issue.
Often as not, you can also fish leaders of 4 and 3 x, droppers, in many case- l always use a detached dropper as here fly animation is greater than a direct in line set up. It is also way easier to change the dropper fly and if needed adjust the rig to suit. 

Knowledge of River Bed
Intimate knowledge of the river bed is a great asset as by knowing that you will know the zones where the fish are likely to be found; such as the drop off behind a gravel bar or rock structure.
Moss beds are almost always holding fish. Likewise, the soft water seams off the main current flows.
Fishing over grass beds can also be very productive, particularly for the larger browns which are often looking for bait fish which are holding in these zones. Examples are crawdads, and sculpins, likely also worms. 

Boat Control
Above all is there is, anything other than the fishing you need to pay attention to is boat control.
It’s very easy if you are not watching what you are doing, to have your boat run into the shoreline, rocks, root wads and what ever else can cause problems.
In highwater, drag chains are generally of no use, also more dangerous if you should snag in fast water flows; as is dropping the anchor.
If you do need to pull ashore then find a area that has a slow safe water zone. 

Enjoy the high water, its likely to be here for a while.


(Posted by Teresa “TBird” Van Winkle) June 22nd, 2014

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