I have been watching the USGS graphs like a crazy person and as far as I can tell our run off has peaked and water flows are on the drop. Many Rivers, especially freestone rivers, are still too high to fish comfortably but it shouldn’t be long before we are floating and wading some of our favorite fly fishing rivers in Colorado. Many rivers are already starting to see good Caddis activity but in the high country we are gearing up for an excellent Caddis Season on rivers like the Arkansas, Eagle, Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers. The Caddis Hatch is a common one that lasts for a good period of time and allows anglers to fish Dry Flies no matter the fishing conditions. Just like any other hatch in Colorado, Caddis flies come in multiple sizes and colors. Although most of the time we like to think that these fluttering bugs are tan, they are often other colors, like black, brown, olive and light orange. For this reason it is important to carry several different patterns, especially when the hatch gets a little lighter and fish get a bit more picky. With so many Caddis Fly Patterns to choose from it is easy to have your own favorites. Here are some of the most effective Caddis Fly Patterns I have found over last few years.
During the first big Caddis Hatch of the year is seems like anything will work. Fish are on the surface and feeding with reckless abandon. During this time I like to use a fly that rides high on the surface that I can skate. Since the water also tends to be on the higher side I also like to use a fly that I can see. For these reasons I tend to stick with a PMX or Stimulator. These are great caddis imitations that will float high in the surface and can be moved/skated without sinking. It is a blast throwing these larger flies tight to the bank, skating them out with a mend and watching a trout explode on it. They also work well in shallow riffles, where caddis tend to hatch.
As the water starts to drop and the caddis hatch slows down I size down my caddis imitations and have found that the Puterbaugh Foam Caddis really does great under these conditions. This fly comes in several different colors but the colors that does it for me is the Black Foam Body Caddis Pattern. These flies also work well in Yellow when the Yellow Sallies start to mix in. This pattern is great to drop off the back of a larger Caddis imitation and fish in the slower slicks and seams. A lot of times this bug with get sucked down when the larger fly gets refused.
My last go to Caddis Dry Fly Imitation is an emerging pattern called the Spot Light Caddis. This fly can be fished as a trailing fly off of a larger Dry Fly but I like to fish it by itself in slow water for the picky riser. Fishing this pattern by itself allows you to maintain better control and accuracy. I like to gink the post of the fly and let the body ride in the surface film. If you have a few slow rolling fish in a back eddy or tight to the bank the Spot Light Caddis can usually pick them up. This fly is also fun to fish in shallow riffles but can be difficult to see. Be sure to let it swing if you lose sight of it as many fish will grab it just before you pick it up.
While there are variety of other caddis pattern in my box the above mentioned are usually tied on before the rest. If you have a few patterns that you like to fish during a Caddis Hatch please share them with us. We hope to see you on the water this summer.