Bastian’s Floating Sulphur Emerger – Part II

This article is Part II of the Floating Sulphur Emerger pattern. This season on Spring Creek, using my Floating Caddis – “Sulphur” Emerger, I decided to try something new and different; that is; fishing with two dry flies at the same time, in a tandem dry fly rig. I had done that successfully out west in 2006 on the Madison, using my Floating Caddis Emerger trailed on 5x tippet behind a #10 Grizzly Wulff as an indicator fly. I did this so I could see the Emerger on the broken water, plus to provide better visibility and improved tracking of the smaller, flush-floating emerger at distances of forty to fifty-five feet that I was occasionally casting.

On Spring Creek this season, this is the data and fishing report from four trips made on the following dates: May 10th, 17th, 24th, and 30th. Each time I fished there I used two drys; the top pattern was a size #14 sulphur dun, either a Thorax Dun or Parachute Dun, and the point fly, trailed on only 12″ of 5x tippet, was always my Floating Sulphur Emerger. The idea of the short tippet between the two flies was so that I would hopefully not have the flies in drift lanes of different speeds. Generally this was a successful approach.

On the first trip, May 10th, I was with a friend, we started fishing about 10 AM. The trout did not come easily that day; by lunchtime at 2:00 PM (we had a late breakfast), I had landed nine trout on nymphs. My friend had less than half that number. During the fishing up to that time, we saw just two sulphur duns. We didn’t know it for a certainty, but that was due to change. We parked along the creek, had lunch, and I took a nap while my friend went fishing. About 3:30 PM I woke up and moved my lawn chair so I could look downstream to watch my friend fishing. I was relaxing, just enjoying the time to watch the stream and listen to the birds, which included a hermit thrush, towhee, northern oriole, and Carolina wren. Two of my friends that we had met earlier in the day drove past minutes apart in separate cars after their fishing, they stopped for a brief chat, and headed off. They were giving it up for the day. Big mistake on their part. Just after 4:00 PM I saw my friend take two trout about five minutes apart, and then I got the gumption to get up and walked over to the guardrails to look at the creek. There were sulphur duns in the air, not hundreds, but several could be seen at any time. Then I saw a rise. And then another. I quickly donned my vest, grabbed my rod, and climbed down over the bank. I crossed the stream to get the sun at my back, a personal preference whenever possible; besides, the section we were in fishes best from the west side anyway. It’s a good afternoon section to fish.

When I got to the other side, I made a few casts with a nymph, but the sight of several rises made me change over to a dry. It was then that I decided to use the previously mentioned Sulphur Dun / Emerger tandem rig. Within minutes after that, and I checked my watch for time reference; at precisely 4:35 PM it was as if someone turned on a switch. Within minutes there were trout rising all around me. I was in a pocket water – riffle stretch and every place that seemed it would hold a fish, did. I began to rise and hook trout, both fish I saw feeding and others that I did not. As far as which fly they took, the trout seemed to be divided between the dun and emerger by about three to one, favoring the dun. But certainly enough took the emerger that I kept it on. By the time 7:30 PM arrived, we had enjoyed three non-stop hours of actively rising trout, my friend hooked over twenty, and I was closer to three-dozen hookups. But it was the approach of an imminent thunderstorm that drove us off. We literally just made it to our vehicle and got out of our fishing gear and then the heavens opened up. It rained like the rain of Noah’s Ark all the way back to Jersey Shore where my car was parked. We probably drove and stayed right in the storm as it tracked southwest to northeast.

The fishing report from that evening was that I hooked close to three-dozen trout, and ten of them were landed on the Floating Sulphur Emerger. More trout whacked at that pattern, but of course I didn’t hook every fish. Sometimes they just miss the fly, and it’s not the angler’s fault. A couple times I saw my dun get pulled under, and struck, hooking a fish. Other times I saw a flash or swirl near the dun, and responded by lifting the rod tip. Again, hooking or “sticking” a fish that took the emerger. I kept floatant on both patterns and several times I saw the trout suck the emerger off the surface.

May 17th – a repeat of May 10th. I went to Spring Creek with two friends; Peter Rodgers and Peter Tonetti of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, had come to my home for a couple days of fly tying lessons, and we also did some fishing. They had never been to Spring Creek, and with the sulphurs on, I wanted to take them there. On the morning of this day, we tied sulphur thorax and parachute duns, spent-wing spinners, and also my Floating Caddis Emerger and Sulphur Emerger, with the idea that we would take the new patterns along to fish with. On this day, I added the new twist of a bright colored foam sight-indicator and started using the orange thread on the Floating Sulphur Emerger. We arrived about 4:15 PM. As soon as we got on the water, there were fish up. They were not real active yet, but I anticipated the increase of hatching and even spinners later on, and hopefully more trout rising as well. That happened, right on cue, as a matter of fact. Peter and Peter were very impressed. Peter T. said at the end of the evening, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many rising trout in one place in my life!” Both men became Spring Creek addicts and are anxious to return.

My personal report – I didn’t hook as many trout as the week prior, but there was a lesson-learned reason for that. I still did well, hooking close to twenty trout, but I made the mistake of tying on a spinner about 8:15 while the light was still good. Spinners were in the air and I just knew the trout would feed preferentially on the spinners. Besides, the duns and rising trout had tapered off by about 7:30. We still took trout by fishing the water, reasoning that the trout were still looking for duns. It worked. What happened that caught me off guard, and among the sudden increase of rising trout, sulphur spinners at eye level, so many that at times they distracted your line of sight to your floating flies, was that I did not see the sulphur duns hatching again. And I mean Gangbusters. For some reason only Mother Nature knows, the duns had all but stopped, but it was merely a break before a super-hatch to follow. Sulphur duns appeared to be literally flying from the water, and I finally realized the trout were taking duns, not spinners, at 8:30 as dusk fell, having cast my proven-by-fifteen-years-of-experience-on-Spring-Creek #14 Sulphur Spinner to more than three dozen rising fish, hooking only two, and being ignored by the rest. When I changed over earlier, I even thought of fishing a spinner and dun in tandem, but being cocky, I told myself, I won’t need to do that. “They’ll take the spinner,” I reasoned. Instead I caught fewer trout, but I learned to be careful about what I thought I knew about trout and bugs.

Here is the Floating Sulphur Emerger:

Bastian's Floating Sulphur emerger

Bastian’s Floating Mayfly (Sulphur) Emerger – Size #14 dry fly hook.

Bastian’s Floating Sulphur emerger

Hook: Any standard dry fly hook,#12 to#16.

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Trailing Shuck: Clear Enrico’s Sea-Fibers

Ribbing: One strand Pearlescent Krystalflash

Overback: Tan closed-cell foam, cut into strip about 2 mm wide and thick

Body: Haretron #18 Ginger or Hareline #43 Ginger rabbit dubbing

Side Shuck: Same as trailing shuck, and tied in from the same piece

Hackle: One turn of a mottled brown hen back feather

Thorax: Haretron Dark Brown #16 dubbing

Head: Orange tying thread

Tying Instructions:

1) Start thread, wind to hook point, trim tag end. It is important to extend the body to a point just to the rear of the hook barb, going just a wee bit over the bend.

2) Attach trailing shuck

3) Attach ribbing

4) Attach foam overback with three wraps

5) Apply dubbing, dub body up to within double normal head space

6) Wind ribbing, 5 – 6 turns

7) Pull overback forward; secure with three wraps, stretch foam and trim butt end

8) Cut trailing shuck off at hook length, move to front of foam, tie it in top center, like a spent spinner wing. Pull fibers to side of hook, then using thread, wrap over the base of the fibers so they sweep back along sides. Length of side shuck extends to hook bend. At this stage, wrap thread to evenly taper the thorax section.

9) Attach hackle, tied in by butt end after fluff cut off. One wrap, one wrap only. OK, that reminds me of a line spoken by Captain Ramius in The Hunt for Red October –  using your best Sean Connery imitation, say, “One ping, Percilli. One ping only, please.”

Here is the new version with the Hi-Vis Sight indicator:

Bastian's Hi-Vis Mayfly (Sulphur) Emerger

Bastian’s Hi-Vis Mayfly (Sulphur) Emerger. This fly was fished, and before I photographed it, I had to fluff it up a bit. I know, it looks nothing like what you may think a sulphur emerger should or would look like. Try telling the trout that.

The tying instructions and components of this version are the same as the Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger above, except that the legs are two small, separate bunches, side-lashed, and there is the obvious addition of the bright foam indicator. A bit of the head dubbing is applied before adding the foam sight indicator,the remaining dubbing is applied after the foam is attached with two wraps. The indicator could also be yellow or orange.

More fish and fishing images from the May 10th to 30th Spring Creek fishing outings:

Trout aken on the new Hi-Vis Floating Sulphur Emerger

Brown trout taken on the new Hi-Vis Floating Sulphur Emerger, May 17th.

Another

Another trout on the Hi-Vis version.

Some trout took the dun in my tandem dry fly rig.

Some trout took the dun in my tandem dry fly rig. This one ate a #14 Sulphur Parachute.

Another

Another brown on the Floating Sulphur Emerger – I know you can’t see it, you’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Sulphur parachute Dun

Brown taken on a Sulphur Parachute Dun.

Brown

A nicer sized brown, he ate the dun pattern.

Upstream view of the Graystone section, great pocket water.

Upstream view of the Graystone section, great pocket water.

Another brown taken on the Floating Sulphur emerger.

Another brown taken on the Floating Sulphur Emerger.

Another

Another brown taken on the Floating Sulphur Emerger. You can see the dun pattern, the lead fly in the tandem rig, lying just under the trout’s jaw.

Peter Rodgers playing Spring Creek brown

Peter Rodgers playing a Spring Creek brown. You can see the trout – it’s airborne!

Peter nets another trout.

Peter nets another trout.

I took this trout last night.

I took this trout last night on the Floating Sulphur Emerger.

On May 24th I fished on Spring Creek with my friend from Delaware, Ohio, Eric Austin, and several of his buddies. We all had a good day, everyone caught fish. The weather that day was a little on the chilly side. I used my tandem rig and took about 15 trout.

Last night I went to Spring Creek again. I figured the warm weather would have a good spinner fall. It turned out there were very few duns hatching, from about 6:00 PM when I started. A few duns came off at dusk. There was a really good spinner fall, but they never showed up until about 8:30 PM as the light began to fade.

I started right off with my “usual” tandem dry fly rig. I fished about twenty-five minutes until I finally rose a trout to the Floating Emerger. He missed the fly. Up until 8:00 PM, I hooked just eight trout. The interesting aspect of last night’s fishing was, compared to all three previous outings, where I took 25% to 35% of the trout on the Floating Emerger, last night, of the first eight trout I hooked, seven were on the emerger. Near the end of the evening, I had lost the emerger on a branch on the opposite side, the result of an errant cast from trying to drift my rig over potential trout lies perilously close to the far bank. By then I had taken twelve trout, nine on the emerger.  That ratio speaks to the effectiveness and preference of the trout to this pattern. When I lost the emerger, I removed the connecting tippet and Thorax Dun and replaced it with a #14 Sulphur Comparadun. The Comparadun silhouette appears very similar to that of a spinner. About 8:40 spinners were about and the trout really began rising actively. I hooked another six or seven fish in short order and called it a night at 8:55 PM.

I suspect also, that this pattern, tied on a #10 – 2x-long hook, with brown foam, and dark brown dubbing, would be an Isonychia – aka Slate Drake Floating Emerger. And so on, with other mayflies. There are near limitless possibilities, and not enough time to tie and try them all. Not this season, anyway. If you tie and try this pattern, I’d wager you will be pleased with its effectiveness.

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Bastian’s Floating Caddis “Sulphur” Emerger

Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger was originally presented here in January with my announcement that Orvis had added it to their 2013 print and on-line catalog as part of their series of New Patterns for 2013. As a caddis emerger, I can’t say enough good things about its effectiveness. It is effective as designed and intended to be dressed with floatant and fished as a dry fly-emerger, but is also catches trout underwater used with split-shot in a single or two-fly nymph rig. Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger can be purchased from Orvis or on a custom-order basis from me.

Last year I began to suspect that this pattern might serve double-duty, not only as originally intended as a floating caddis emerger, but also as a floating mayfly emerger, particularly for sulphurs. So one day last year, on May 13th, on Spring Creek in central  Pennsylvania, during sulphur time,  I tested my theory. The particular May day last season was on the eve of the On-The-Fly Event on Spruce Creek.

The only change in the pattern from Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger, normally in tan, olive, black, and buff, was the change of the body dubbing to ginger Haretron. I have also used regular Hareline #43 Ginger dubbing on the sulphur emerger. This season, just two weeks ago, I also changed the thread color to Danville’s No 7 Orange Flymaster 6/0 for my Floating Sulphur Emerger.

On that day last year, sulphur duns were hatching; I fished for one hour and twenty minutes. My time on the water that evening was from about 6:15 Pm until 7:35 PM. During that time, I fished the water, but mostly I sight-cast the Floating “Sulphur” Emerger to rising fish, and brought fourteen brown trout to hand. Here are photos of some of the trout duped by this pattern, every trout shown took the Floating Sulphur Emerger:

Spring Crek brown, the Floating Sulphur Emerger is visible in the fish's jaw

Spring Creek brown, the Floating Sulphur Emerger is visible in the fish’s jaw.

Brown trout about fourteen inches...

Brown trout about fourteen inches…

fish

Same trout as previous photo…

Another brown trout...

Another brown trout…

Another trout. Fourteen trout brought to hand in an hour and twentyt ,minutes is prety decent fishing.

Another trout. Fourteen trout brought to hand in an hour and twenty minutes is pretty active fishing. They were on the feed on emerging sulphur duns / nymphs. Most of the trout I saw feeding were taking sulphur duns, and I can’t recall a single feeding fish that refused to hit the floating emerger, at least not on that day.

Macro image of trout in previous photo.

Macro image of trout in previous photo.

 

Little trout are hungry too! It's great to catch these small stream-bred fish' it's a sign of a healthy fishery.

Little trout are hungry too! It’s great to catch these small stream-bred fish, it’s a sign of a healthy fishery. Little trout under catch-and-release regulations, while this section of Spring Creek is no-kill and does not not require barbless hooks, should be protected by pinching all your hook barbs down. It certainly makes for easier release of the fish of any size.

One of the nicest trout I landed that day.

Another of the nice trout I landed that day.

Same

Same trout as previous photo.

I will soon be making a follow-up post to this one, Part II of the Floating Sulphur Emerger, detailing the success of this pattern over four trips on Spring Creek this season. I’ll have tying info and pattern recipes there. Thanks for your interest, hope you enjoyed this article.

 

Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger

This is a full-length article on three of my original caddis patterns that I originally intended to release to a magazine for publication. Perhaps I still will. However, with the acceptance of “Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger” pattern by Orvis, and the recent release of the online Orvis New Products Catalog, I wanted to do a write-up here to generate interest in this pattern. Reading through my Caddis Pattern Trio article that I wrote a few years ago, I decided to print it here in its entirety. I have included discussion on the Hatching Caddis Adult and Hatching Caddis Pupa, but the focus of this piece is on the Floating Caddis Emerger.

I have been unable to post much here due to my depressed health since November 1st, but I guess now that I’ve finally posted something with substance, this is a post with substance to make up for it. I hope you all find something interesting, even enlightening, in this writing.

Here is the Orvis link to “Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger:” http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=7R6A

Orvis did an excellent job of replicating my pattern. I will only say the Tan version should have a hackle that is lighter, more of a light – medium mottled brown. But I doubt the darker hackle will reduce the effectiveness of Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger.

A Spring Creek brown taken on my Floating Caddis Emerger, April 29, 2012.

A Spring Creek brown taken on my Floating Caddis Emerger, April 29, 2012.

Caddis Pattern Trio

By Don Bastian

    Caddis flies are among the most ubiquitous aquatic insects. As a genus they are widely distributed in water types from flowing to still, shallow to deep. They inhabit virtually every ecological unit within their environment. As a species they number in the thousands, and their diversity in size, color, habits, and environment is fascinating, even astounding to fly anglers. Across the country, wherever trout are found, caddis flies will be found as well. Some species of caddis flies often occur in warm water environs unsuitable for trout. Some varieties hatch once per year, while others are multi-brooded within a twelve-month period. In some areas caddis hatches occur with incredible density, the number of insects occasionally creating the illusion of a blizzard as individual flies easily number tens of thousands. An upstream caddis migration flight is a spectacle to see, yet when this occurs anglers often wonder why few trout are rising when there are thousands of insects in the air.

For fly fishers, caddis flies often present challenges during emergence. Perhaps the most confounding issue confronted by anglers during caddis hatching activity is determining exactly what stage of the caddis lifecycle the trout are feeding on, particularly when the occasional occurrence of splashy rise forms are encountered. Often our glance in the direction of the rise is met with the sight of a small caddis fly fluttering on the surface in an attempt to become airborne, and as we watch we see a second follow up rise as a trout engulfs the struggling adult. What just happened there? Obviously the trout took the adult caddis, because we saw it happen. In this case you can believe what you see. However, what we did not see may be far more significant. What happened to trigger the initial rise of the trout? What exactly transpired immediately before and during the first rise of the fish? While we might hope to one day solve this puzzling question, the resolution of this riddle would by its very solution remove much of the intriguing appeal that fishing caddis imitations for trout can provide.

Another Spring Creek brown that took the Floating Caddis Emerger.

Another Spring Creek brown that took the Floating Caddis Emerger same day as the trout above. I took one trout on a #20 Flashback Pheasant Tail Nymph that day, and after switching to the Floating Caddis Emerger, ended the day with over two-dozen trout.

The element of challenge is one of the most compelling reasons why people are drawn to fly-fishing. An opportunity to fish an emergence of caddis flies inherently contains an element of risk. The risk is that one might not be wholly successful in imitating the caddis life stage trout are feeding upon, and as a result, fewer trout will be brought to net and anglers often return home somewhat perplexed. Most fly fishers readily immerse themselves in this risk regardless of their knowledge or ability to overcome the challenge. My hope through this writing is to relate my experiences, resolve some lingering questions, and offer some caddis fly pattern solutions that have served well over the years to increase angling success for myself and many of my friends.

I recall meeting Gary LaFontaine for the first time at a fly fishing event in the early 1990’s. His book, Caddisflies, is a monumental work that illuminated a trove of information regarding caddis activity that had been previously enigmatic. Employing the use of scuba gear to study and gather data, Mr. LaFontaine actually viewed caddis emergences underwater as they progressed. What struck me most significantly during Gary’s presentation was his revelation that most of the time during a caddis hatch trout are not feeding on the caddis adults. Predominantly, LaFontaine described, trout are feeding on the emerging caddis. But what exactly does that mean? This could easily be interpreted to mean that trout are feeding on the ‘emergers’ as they rise to the surface. Which begs further questions: What is a caddis emerger? What form do they take? How can we mimic them effectively?

Splashy rise forms we often see are typically caused by trout aggressively feeding on caddis flies that are about to escape. This aggression is probably triggered by the specific behavior and habits of the emerging caddis and not as we often believe, by the adult insects. This conclusion could be plausibly rationalized and understood by most anglers. Gary went on to explain that his research indicated, as many anglers are aware, when a caddis fly is ready to hatch, a buildup of gaseous bubbles within the pupal shuck causes the pupa to rise to the surface very rapidly. Unlike mayflies, whose wings inflate with the flowing of body fluids after the sub-imago emerges from the shuck, the formation of gas bubbles inside the caddis pupal shuck is the final indication that the pupa has completed its metamorphosis. As this transpires the adult is fully formed inside the shuck, ready for flight as soon as it can release itself from the case that constrains it. The gas bubbles within the caddis pupal shuck enable a rapid rise to the surface. This rate of rise is so fast that the trout have little chance of intercepting the pupal shuck during these brief moments. The optimum opportunity for trout to feed on emerging caddis flies occurs when the pupal shuck makes contact with and breaks through the surface film.

A nice rainbow also fell victim to the Floating Caddis Emerger on that late-April day in 2012.

A nice rainbow also fell victim to the Floating Caddis Emerger on that late-April day in 2012.

Gary LaFontaine reported that adult caddis flies emerge from the pupal shuck within two to three seconds after contact with the surface film has been achieved. Furthermore, his observation that average trout stream and river current speed is four feet per second translates to this: On most rivers the caddis pupal shuck floats and drifts on the surface an average distance of eight to twelve feet before splitting open, whereupon the adult takes flight almost instantly. In most cases when trout break the surface during a caddis emergence they are not usually feeding on the adult caddis flies. In recent years it has become more evident that aggressive rises of trout taking hatching caddis flies are caused as they take the drifting pupa with the adult still inside, and not the adult,  in the surface film just prior to emergence. Trout know from experience that the fly will disappear imminently, so they act quickly, decisively, and often with reckless abandon to gain the meal before the opportunity is gone. With trout feeding so eagerly, it is thought-provoking to note that at this stage of the hatch anglers choosing to fish with standard top-water caddis dry patterns invariably meet with limited success.

What can fly anglers do to solve this puzzle? I remember meeting Eric Leiser and Larry Solomon, coauthors of The Caddis and the Angler, in the 1970’s at an event I attended. They related one technique employed during a caddis hatch was to use a dry pattern like an Elk Hair Caddis or a Henryville Special (both good caddis adult imitations), and stand in the water, waiting for a rise, false casting the fly. The idea being that when a trout rose within casting distance, the angler was ready to respond by instantly casting the fly to the rise in an attempt to trick the trout into thinking it missed its target. This method is clearly time-consuming, and if the trout are not feeding actively it comes up short. Not to mention tiring out your arm and being just plain boring. Such a technique has its merits to take a few fish but it is little more than a ruse that leaves the problem unsolved.

Through my years of fly tying and fishing research I have created some caddis emerger / transition patterns that, while not foolproof, have proven at times to work quite effectively to dupe trout into taking the fly. The significant aspect of these patterns is that they have worked successfully when other patterns have failed, and they have taken trout when there was very little caddis activity. In the mid-1990’s I was contracted to tie some custom caddis emerger patterns for a local fly shop. LaFontaine’s Sparkle Pupa had become well known by this time. In tying these custom patterns, what interested me was the addition of some sparkle material to the side of the fly, swept back along the body. There was also the inclusion of a rib of Krystalflash. Incorporating some of Gary LaFontaine’s ideas, these two ingredients sparked my mind to create my own versions through combination and modification. The first fly I developed, about 1996, was called the Pre-Emergent Sparkle Caddis Adult. A few years later I decided that the name was too cumbersome and renamed the pattern the Hatching Caddis Adult, which is what it was designed to imitate. With a trailing shuck like some other caddis patterns, I added a Krystalflash rib to the Haretron body and Hi-Vis along the sides, which I named the side-shuck. My other addition was a stub of Hi-Vis over the body to form what I refer to as a half-wing. I reasoned this wing stub would retain fly floatant and improve the buoyancy of the pattern, which proved to be correct. This fly was designed as a floating pattern to imitate the ready-to-hatch caddis adult with lots of sparkle to attract the trout. It was initially very successful on Ontario’s Grand River in the late 1990’s. It has proven successful through more than a decade of use, but at the same time has not been a complete answer to the dilemma of matching a caddis hatch.

My next development in this series was the creation of an underwater emerger pattern. Similar to LaFontaine’s Sparkle Caddis Pupa, my version has a trailing shuck, the body bubble, adds the Krystal flash rib and the Hi-Vis side-shuck, retains the little half wing of Hi-Vis, and has a soft-hackle collar. So it is very similar to my Hatching Caddis Adult, but it includes the LaFontaine style body bubble of Antron or Hi-Vis pulled over the body to make it resemble a caddis pupal shuck. I tied these on a 1x long nymph hook. This fly, called the Hatching Caddis Pupa, works very well when fished as a nymph pattern.

You have probably heard it said, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” This was true in my case, because on numerous occasions I was fishing Hatching Caddis Adult patterns during a caddis hatch with some success, but with results somewhat less than desired. While some fish took the fly, many trout rejected it. Recalling LaFontaine’s research of trout feeding on floating, drifting pupal shucks, I tried my Hatching Caddis Pupa pattern, dressed with floatant and fished it on the surface. This provided limited success, primarily because it did not float well. The pattern improved slightly when tied on a dry fly hook, but still not what I would state as an achievement of success. Again my mind wondered, “How can I make a pupa pattern to float on the surface without dressing it like a traditional dry fly?”

Here again, I thought about some elements of the caddis fly that I felt important to imitate. Form, silhouette, and floatation were key elements that needed to be designed into the fly. Caddis pupal shucks quiver and vibrate while floating on the surface as the adults struggle to emerge, so I reasoned that the addition of various fibers to blur the trout’s vision might suggest this behavior. And it needed to float as well. I also thought of a mottling effect to imitate the variegated markings of some caddis flies. This thought process caused me to develop the Floating Caddis Emerger. This pattern has become my favorite because it works far better than the others. In fact it has worked so well that I am prone to exaggerated ravings about it, however I shall endeavor to focus on the facts. The Floating Caddis Emerger differs from the other two patterns in two ways. First and most significantly, there is what I call an overback strip of closed-cell foam. This is my solution for unexcelled floatation. Even if swamped in surface turbulence, the fly remains suspended in the film. The second addition is a single wrap of mottled hen back feather at the head to achieve a variegated effect. Omitted ingredients are the body shuck and the half wing. Included are the trailing shuck, Krystalflash rib, Haretron dubbed body, and dubbed head.

May 13, 2012,Spring Creek. I had suspicion and made the delightful discovery that the Floating Caddis Emerger,when dressed with Hartron Ginger dubbing,is dead-on as a floating sulphur emerger.. On thios date I hooked fouryteen trout, feeding on sulphurs, on the "Floating Caddis Emerger, size #16. Ha! I really fooled 'em!

May 13, 2012, Spring Creek. I had a suspicion for a couple years and when I acted on it, I made the delightful discovery that the Floating Caddis Emerger, when dressed with Haretron Ginger dubbing, is dead-on as a floating sulphur emerger. On this date I hooked fourteen trout in a little over an hour that were obviously feeding on sulphurs, on the “Floating Caddis Emerger, size #16. Ha! I really fooled ’em! I was using a tiny pinch of Yellow Orvis Strike Putty on my tippet knot, no larger than the diameter of my fly line as a sight indicator.

Note in the photo above my discovery that the Floating Caddis Emerger, dressed with a ginger body, is an excellent sulphur emerger. It’s still a dry fly, low-floating but nevertheless, a dry.

I confess that the Floating Caddis Emerger has yet to be fished during a heavy caddis hatch, but therein is my strong belief in its effectiveness, because it has proven to bring trout to the surface when few other flies have brought success. It has been fished on New York’s Beaverkill and Croton Rivers, the Madison and Ruby in Montana, Big Pine Creek, Penn’s Creek, Spring Creek, all in Pennsylvania, and the Housatonic and Farmington Rivers in Connecticut. There have been several times on Spring Creek when I hooked over three-dozen trout on the Floating Caddis Emerger in a few hours. Most noteworthy was the fact that there was no significant hatch on, just the odd caddis fluttering about here and there. Spring Creek is often notorious for its no-hatch, consequently no-rising-trout scenario. Dressed with floatant and sometimes using a very small, fly line diameter-sized pinch of strike putty on the tippet knot so I can track the flush-floating fly in broken water, the Floating Caddis Emerger tempts trout to the surface and instills confident strikes.

One difficult afternoon in July 2005 on Pennsylvania’s Penn’s Creek, my friend Dave Rothrock was with me. I had given him a few of these flies to try. After a day of relatively slow fishing due to the absence of major aquatic insect activity, Dave’s evaluation was this: “Any time I could ascertain a trout was feeding on caddis they would rise with confidence and take this fly.”

Another Spring Creek brown taken during a sulphur hatch on the Floating Caddis Emerger.

A nice Spring Creek brown taken during a sulphur hatch on the Floating Caddis Emerger.

A fat yearling brown taken on the Floating Caddis "Sulphur" Emerger. Wink, wink!

A fat yearling brown taken on the Floating Caddis “Sulphur” Emerger. Wink, wink!

It also remains effective if fished in rough water where it may occasionally be swamped by surface action. Not to worry though, because with the built-in life-preserver of closed-cell foam, the fly remains in or just under the surface film. If an indicator fly or pinch of strike putty on the tippet knot is employed, the rise of a trout can still be detected. A good fishing technique would be to use a Floating Caddis Emerger with a very small pinch of strike putty on the tippet knot. Or do as I did once on the Madison River; use the Floating Caddis Emerger on 5x tippet tied from the bend of a #10 Grizzly Wulff or some other large attractor dry as an indicator fly. This combination brought a bank-hugging twenty-inch brown to net. Another version would be a two-fly rig with the Hatching Caddis Pupa on a 5x tippet with a micro-shot above the fly, and the Floating Caddis Emerger as an indicator above it, also tied on 5x.

Fishing a caddis hatch remains at times, somewhat of a challenge and I do not contend that these fly patterns will resolve all the associated difficulties. However, I have enjoyed success on many occasions with these flies, and I encourage you to try them as well. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

Furthermore, I believe this pattern design can be adopted to other mayflies, most notably the Slate Drake, which can and does emerge mid-stream. Also March Browns and Green Drakes. More tying and fishing to do…

Geez, I almost forgot!!!!!!!! Very important!

Field-worn Floating Caddis Emerger. One successful day in 2005, I hooked 34 trout on Pennsylvania's Spring Creek on this fly. Then I decided to save it before losing it, as an example of pattern durability and effectiveness. Note the teeth marks, yet the pattern is intact, ready for more trout.

Field-worn Floating Caddis Emerger. One successful day in 2005, I hooked 34 trout on Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek on this fly. Then I decided to save it before losing it, as an example of pattern durability and effectiveness. Note the teeth marks, yet the pattern is intact, ready for more trout.

Floating Caddis Emerger with fom overback strip worn ragged by trout's teeth, yet the fly did not fall apart. (wrap your thread tight, boys and girls).

Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger with foam overback strip worn ragged, nearly shredded by the teeth of thirty-four trout, yet the fly did not fall apart. (Wrap your thread tight, boys and girls).