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It’s Caddis Time for Tailwater Junkies!

Very fewhatches get your juices flowing like a blizzard of moth-like insects known as caddisflies. These fluttering insects typically produce an emergence that brings forth staggering numbers of rising trout to the surface, often setting the stage for some of the most productive fishing of the early summer season. Being at the right place, at the right time, with the right fly, is critical for success, however.

Caddis hatches progress upstream daily, therefore; being on the leading edge of the hatch can often make or break your success. If the trout have been feeding heavily on caddisflies for a day or two, they will be stuffed and unwilling to take your artificial, no matter how well your fly is presented, or how many naturals are on the water!


Tailwater enthusiasts need to have their fly boxes crammed with an assortment of caddis larvae and pupae in sizes 14-18. Some of my favorites include Dorsey’s Mercury Cased Caddis, Bead Head Breadcrust, Barr’s Graphic Caddis, Mercer’s Swing Nymph, Hydropyche, and Parrott’s Electric Caddis.

Similar to midges, caddisflies pass through complete metamorphosis. Their lifecycle consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. All phases can be important as far as fly selection is concerned, but to date; I have caught more fish on pupae imitations than anything else. I still recommend carrying a thorough selection of larvae and adults because you’ll need them. I would also suggest stocking your fly box with a few egg-laying adults too, as they are productive during the evening hours when the females come back to deposit their eggs.

​Caddis pupae can be dead-drifted or allowed to swing in the current. When a fish grabs a pupae on the swing it is one of the most aggressive strikes you’ll encounter with a nymphing rig. I typically fish a pupae off a larva pattern to cover my bases. Don’t rule of wet flies ether as they can be extremely productive during the height of a caddis emergence.


The Puterbaugh Caddis is one of my favorite adult caddis patterns. It is effective dead drifted or skated across the surface of the water. I recommend carrying them is sizes 14-18!

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Pat Dorsey Fly Fishing