In hook sizes from 12 or smaller the Elk Hair Caddis’ hackle can be dispensed with or substituted with an underwing of CDC or poly-yarn. If using a larger hook the fly will benefit from a body or collar hackle, especially if it is to be fished on a lake where there’s a chance of a big wave where a less substantial fly can easily be swamped.
Elk hair comes in a variety of plain and dyed colours. When tying a sedge imitation, hair from various parts of the animal may be used. Elk hock – either plain, dyed or bleached to make it a light tan colour – works particularly well on smaller sized flies as the hair is quite fine so doesn’t make the fly too bulky. Otherwise all but the longest elk body hair works perfectly well.
Body colour may also be varied. Plain hare’s fur works perfectly well though blending it with a yellow or green dubbing adds another dimension to the pattern. Whichever material you use, it’s worth injecting a bit of spikiness in the form of the guard hairs from a hare’s mask or a pinch of fox squirrel body hair to suggest the insect’s legs. This, along with the CDC or poly-yarn, provide plenty of fibres to grab the water’s surface, helping the fly to float. This style of fly works extremely well on both river and lakes.
HOOK: Size 10 - 14 medium weight wet fly
TAIL: Poly-yarn - tan, brown or cream
BODY: Fox squirrel and yellow hare’s fur blend
UNDERWING: Natural CDC or yarn as tail
WING: Natural, bleached or dyed brown elk hair
- Run tying thread along shank to a position just short of the hook bend. Catch in a length of cream poly-yarn to form a short tail.
- Catch in a length of fine gold wire at tail base then prepare a blend of fox squirrel fur and dyed yellow hare’s fur. Offer fur up to thread.
- Using a simple finger and thumb twist, dub the fur on to the thread to form a tapered rope. Wind fur towards the eye in close turns.
- Carry on winding dubbed fur almost to the eye, leaving a gap for the wing. Apply evenly spaced turns of gold wire for the rib.
- Secure loose end of wire with tying thread then remove the waste end. Select a small grey CDC feather and catch in on top of body.
- Trim base of CDC plume then prepare bunch of elk hair. Position hair so its tips reach end of the tail then add a couple of thread turns.
- When you are happy with the elk hair's position fix it in place with a few tight thread turns. These turns will cause the hair to flare.
- With the wing fixed securely add a few softer thread turns to the wing-base to control the wing then add more thread turns at the eye.
- Apply a few more tight thread turns then cast off with a whip finish. To complete, trim the butts of the hair to leave a short stub.