Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger

I had announced this on my facebook page last week, but I also wanted to post something here. I am pleased to announce that the Orvis Company has picked up for the third year, my original pattern, “Bastian’s Floating Cadddis Emerger.” It is offered in their online catalog:

http://www.orvis.com/store/product_search_tnail.aspx?keyword=bastian%27s+floating+caddis+emerger

This pattern was created in 2006, a revised fly that began in 1996 with my original Hatching Caddis Adult pattern. It has been field-tested in Pennsylvania; on Penn’s Creek, Big Pine Creek, and Spring Creek. I also used it successfully on the Beaverkill in New York, and Montana’s Madison River, and my brother has used it on Maine’s Penobscot River for land-locked salmon. It has also proven itself as a very effective still-water fly. Since its release with Orvis, a customer and his wife from Massachusetts, who guide with the 2014 Orvis Guide of the Year, Tim Linehan, used it on the Missouri River in 2013 and hammered ’em. Tim had not seen the pattern previously and was surprised by its success. He bought some from me afterward.

Here is a photo of Susan Ukena with Tim Linehan, and a fine Missouri River rainbow that took my emerger – a #14 tan:

Sue Ukena and Orvis 2014 Guide of the Year, Tim Linehan, with a Missouri River rainbow that fell to Bastian's Floating Caddis Emerger.

Sue Ukena and Orvis 2014 Guide of the Year, Tim Linehan, with a Missouri River rainbow that fell to Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger.

I also wanted to get the fly on the MyFlies.com site, but could not in good conscience place the same pattern there. So I made two changes in the pattern, number one, the way the hackle is applied. On the MyFlies.com version, Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger, I side-lash the legs. And number two, I added a chartreuse foam indicator to the top of the fly and the neck, between the body and head section. This helps improve visibility of the fly, which rides on the surface. It is called an emerger, but this fly is actually a dry fly, even though it is unconventional in its appearance as a dry fly. Another thing about it, even if swamped by surface turbulence, it remains in the film. That is why the hi-vis indicator is helpful. Plus I have successfully for the last three seasons, doubled-up and used a tandem dry fly rig with this pattern; a sulfur dun and a ginger colored “sulfur” version of Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger. The larger, high-floating, more visible dun pattern keeps your eye tracking the drift of the emerger as well. Trout flash, swirl, boil, or just show themselves under the dun, and they are generally always looking at, or most times, have taken the emerger. This is why I have trained myself to be quick to strike at any sign of a trout. Even with just 10″ of tippet between the dun and emerger, the dry fly does not always give indication that the trout took the emerger. They are faster and quicker on the “take and spit” than most of us ever realize.

There are about ten or eleven articles here on my blog related to this pattern. Use the search tab, type in “Floating Emerger,” hit the enter key and they will come up. Lots of photos, success stories, tactical stuff, tying instructions…it’s all there.

Here is a pic from the MyFlies.com site:

This is the gingeerr colored veersion of Bastian's Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger, this KILLS on Speing Creeek and any stream where the sulfurs, Ephemerella rotunda exist.

This is the ginger-colored version of Bastian’s Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger. This fly KILLS on Spring Creek and any stream where the sulfurs, phemerella rotunda exist.

A customer here in Pennsylvania recently ordered some of these. Here is a quote from the e-mail I got the other day when he received his order:

“Received the flies. Once again, I am just stunned at the character of these flies in person, I am not surprised they are so killer.”

These flies are available from Orvis, or from MyFlies.com. I also offer them in custom colors and sizes, I have tied them as small as #20, and as large as a #10 – 2x long in brown as a Slate Drake Emerger. Now all we have to do is wait for Spring…

Advertisements

Spring Creek – Again

I paid a short visit to Spring Creek last evening. After all I was in the area for something else, and figured while nearby, why not? Turns out my friend Bill Shuck, a regular www.flymphforum.com tier, mentioning to me in an e-mail yesterday about the “cold front” putting the trout and bugs and fishing “off,” was right. There wasn’t much happening.

The high temperature for the day was barely sixty-five degrees, and the sun never even poked its head out, not even for a minute. I thought the sulfurs would be hatching gangbusters and trout would be up everywhere, but only in my dreams. I had driven down to State College to attend a visitation session for Gloria Humphreys, the wife of one of Pennsylvania’s celebrated fly fishing authors, Joe Humphreys. They were professional and personal friends. Gloria passed away on May 20th.

So after paying my respects I drove to Spring Creek, found a spot, geared up, and tied on my usual two-dry-fly tandem rig, a Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun and my Floating “Sulfur” Emerger – which as noted in the article and links from my previous post, started its life in 2006 as a Floating Caddis Emerger. Orvis added it to their fly catalog in 2013, and have continued it for this year as well. http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=7R6A[/

I discovered two years ago that the same pattern, augmented for size and dubbing color, also does a “spot-on” mimic for emerging mayflies. At least that is the conclusion I have drawn, after hooking well over one hundred trout on that fly last season and this season, all while fishing the “sulfur” hatch.

I walked downstream to a slower, deeper section of water and watched for rising fish. Nothing was happening, there were no rises. I gave it all of one minute, which on Spring Creek at this time if year and time of day, if they are rising, I would have seen a dozen or more trout up. So I walked upstream, knowing what my next course of action would be, but for confirmation, I said aloud to myself, “If there are no trout rising, I’m going to fish the riffs and pocket water. No sense of fishing a pool with no rises.” Yes, I do talk to myself, sometimes it is the only way I can get expert advice. 😉

I stepped into this spot:

I entered the water just below this spot, got some line iout, and when I was only about four feet from the bank, started feeding line downstream to a deeper section.

I entered the water just below this spot, got some line out, and when I was only about four feet from the bank, made a cast downstream and started feeding line to a deeper section. A trout rose to the Floating Sulfur Emerger on the first drift, but he missed the fly. I caught one trout in about eight inches of water maybe three feet from shore. When a lot of fishermen are about, they usually scatter the trout from these shallow sections…for a little while at least. Most anglers don’t bother with this water, they are “pool oriented.” Their mistake. The area between the two rocks, not twenty-five feet away, produced two hookups and three additional rises.

Next I worked my way up to the area in the above photo, standing in water about a foot deep, and by this time I had not moved more than fifteen feet from the bank. I blindly cast about to the pockets, seams, and into the riffles, relying on experience as to where might be a good spot for a trout to be. None of this water was more than a foot or so in depth. Right away I caught this fish:

This first trout took the Floating Sulfur Emerger.

This first trout took the Floating Sulfur Emerger. He hit the fly when it was about eight feet from my rod tip. You can see the front end of the fly in his mouth. I hooked two more right after this one on the same fly, but they wanted no part of having their picture taken, so they rather rudely excused themselves by making my line go limp.

I rose and missed more than a dozen trout in the course of the evening, and it is important here to note; why I chose to fish the shallower water, pockets, seams, and riffs. There were no trout rising in the pools. I did not want to waste my limited time by “looking for rising trout.” The fish in shallower water are generally always more prone to impulsive feeding when something presents itself, even on the surface. These fish are accustomed by now to looking for sulfur duns and spinners, and also Baetis, or BWO’s, so that was my logic behind the choice to fish dry flies in the shallow water. Plus, I could get close to the trout with out spooking them, able to make accurate presentations, short drifts through targeted zones, repetitive if necessary, all while making pretty short casts. Also a factor besides this, there were trees hugging both banks and extended limbs so I had to keep it short. Managing your drift is easier when casting to close range target areas; most of the time I had about six to ten feet of fly line beyond the rod tip. My leader was about eleven or twelve feet long, including the typical George Harvey front-section formula of about six feet of 3x, 4x, and 5x. In this type of water, and in most dry fly scenarios, one does not want the leader to straighten out, but rather remain somewhat coiled and snaked about on the water’s surface in S-curves. This promotes drag-free drifts. George Harvey’s leader designs are from the 1940’s, when gut leaders were still used, and his formulas predate the present “Czech”, “French,” “Euro,” whatever you choose to call it, leader designs, that are being touted these days as “new.” In fact, one of these days, I’ll write a piece on the reality of every single aspect of this “new” method of nymphing – rods, leaders, flies, technique, all being as old as the hills. It’s all hype and marketing.

I saw just a handful of trout rise, and I did not have a great evening on the water, but I had a good evening on the water. Most of the trout that rose took, or tried to take, the Floating Sulfur Emerger, but a number did come up after the dun as well. Another thing I noticed; there were more Baetis in the air than anything else. This is typical – chilly, all-cloudy day, that is what they like. I saw duns on the water and in the air, but perhaps Bill was correct; the cold front had put the trout “off.”

Here is a pic of the first trout to take the sulfur dun:

First trout of the evening on the Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun.

First trout of the evening on the Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun. This fly is a modified design of Vince Marinaro’s Thorax Dun; the poly-wing version was created by Barry Beck. I made further material composition modifications, particularly the use of the Sexi-Super-Dyna-Flexi Floss for the “quill body” abdomen, and I generally use poly yarn for the wings rather than the old “Poly-Fluff” or Hi-Vis” – now called E.P. Fibers he used to use.

Here is an upstream shot of the section I fished:

Section of riffles, pockets, seams 0- shallow, but the trout are here.

Section of Spring Creek riffles, pockets, seams – shallow, but the trout are here. Note the larger exposed and submerged boulders – structure – these create breaks in the stream flow, “seams” where currents of two different speed intersect – creating holding areas for trout, allowing them comfort while having the ease of opportunity to intercept drifting food items. Work these areas properly, either with a nymph or a dry fly, and it’s Game On!

Here is another important point I want to make: In the comment thread from the previous article, Bill Shuck mentioned about how more than once he had been on Spring Creek and spooked the largest trout in the stream just by stepping into the water, because sometimes big trout are near the bank, even in shallow water.” Most of us look for the trout where we expect them to be. Happened to me last night. We all probably spook more trout like this, because while we think we’re pretty good angler / predators, we really don’t pay attention enough of the time. If I had been looking, I would have seen a brown trout about nineteen inches long, up ahead of me, on the right, in just eight inches of water, so close to the bank that the long grass slightly overhung his position. When I was about twelve feet off, of course looking and casting out into the stream, his take-off made a resounding splash, a plume of silt, and a large wake as I watched him scoot off.

Right then, I gave myself a little more “expert” advice; by saying aloud, “Expletive. If I had been looking for that fish, I would have seen him first and been able to make a couple casts.” Here is one more pic of a trout that liked my Sulfur Dun:

Spring Creek 5-29-14 006Enjoyable evening on the water. I learned a few new things, got more affirmation of some of the things I already knew, even entertained myself by singing a little bit while fishing, and had a good time. This is about catching fish though. Don’t let anyone fool you by summing up a poor day or few hours on the water, saying, “It’s just good to get out.” That is, in fact, true. But realistically, how many of those people would continue to fish if they got skunked, again, and again, and again, and again…hardly any of us would go out if we couldn’t hook up now and then.

Hopefully you found a few informative and educational things here and among the other articles on my blog to help you get “tight lines” on future trips.

Spring Creek – First Trip 2014

Yesterday afternoon a friend, his son, and me went to Pennsylvania’s Spring Creek with hopes of catching some sulfur mayfly activity. We did. This article is a brief report on that trip.

The day was bright and sunny, and we selected a section of the stream to fish from the west bank, allowing for the sun to be at our backs. This gave us the advantage by reducing glare and minimizing eye strain, and also hid us from the fish because they have the glare in their right eye. We fished a section flowing from right to left. I always consider that whenever possible.

I started the first twenty minutes or so by giving my friend’s son, Sam, a lesson on nymph fishing. This was a refresher course on a demo that I had given him a few years earlier. As I narrated the approach, casting, targeting, drift management, striking, moving the indicator depending on the depth and current speed of the target area, and hook-setting, I had a couple strikes, and then, the one fish I did manage to hook, was lying in a most unlikely location, which added significantly to the learning impact of the lesson. The trout was holding in just a riffle, shallow, barely fifteen inches deep. Object lesson learned: “Don’t pass up any potential spot, even it you think it is too shallow, at least not on this crick.”

We hooked a few trout on nymphs, then adjourned stream-side for an early dinner of baloney and cheese sandwiches with mustard, before the hoped-for evening hatching and feeding activity. We started fishing again about five PM. Only an occasional trout rose, so I stayed with the nymphs and worked my way upstream through some riffles and pocket-water. I hooked a few trout, but nothing to write home about. For a change of pace I decided to start tossing a dry, or rather, my two-dry fly rig that I started using last year. This set-up is a sulfur dun of various styles with my Floating “Sulfur” (Caddis) Emerger trailing off this fly with about ten inches of 5x tippet. I tie it to the hook bend. After I made about three casts, I hooked a trout on the Floating Emerger. Took his photo as he reluctantly posed for me. The very next cast another trout took the emerger. I thought, whoa, this is gonna be great! Well, it was, almost, but not right away.

My first Spring Creek trout of 2014

My first Spring Creek trout of 2014, taken on my Floating Caddis – Mayfly “Sulfur” Emerger, a #14.

I walked downstream to a pool where my companions were, checked in with them, and since they had a few risers, and caught a few trout, I decided to move below them and try some riffles and pockets. I caught this guy on a #14 Sulfur Poly-wing Thorax Dun:

First trout that took the sulfur dun

First trout that took the sulfur dun in my two-dry fly rig.

I keep both these drys close together because they never alight with the tippet stretched out. The intent is to prevent the two flies from getting into current lanes with different speeds. If I have twelve inches of tippet between the two flies, the two patterns are often only a few inches apart. Trout can see both of them, I believe, and make their choice. The Floating Emerger was rising more trout in the afternoon, but as the hatch intensified, they seemed to prefer the dun, though all along trout continued to hit both flies.

We did not have a heavy hatch, and not a lot of trout were actively rising; it seemed sporadic at best. Still we caught trout. After hooking and raising several trout in the water below the pool where my companions fished, I started back up through the same section of riffles and pocket water I had fished previously, and decided to tie on a #12 Sulfur Parachute Dun. Why a size twelve, you ask? Well, some of Spring Creeks sulfurs are nearly that big, I’ve seen enough of ’em over the last twenty-five to make the assessment with certainty. The other reason, and there are a few are: It was about seven PM, and a larger fly would be easier to see on the rough water I was fishing, and also easier to see as daylight faded into dusk. A larger fly would float better. A larger fly would be easier for the trout to see as well.

So that’s what I did, and trout took the large sulfur dun with no hesitation. The first trout I rose was in a fast riffle, and he smashed the fly; he was about fourteen inches. Every fish that took that fly, whacked it, but then again I was fishing faster, rather turbulent riffle and pocket water and they don’t have a lot of time to think about it. I like the challenge of fishing like this because it is very difficult to get the fly to drift naturally in many of the likely-looking spots. The heavy water allows me to get close enough to almost “dap” the flies on the water, very similar to close-range high-stick nymphing, because often I had only a few feet of fly line extending past the rod tip.

This trout was the fish of the day for me:

Sixten-inch Spring Crek brown taken on a #12 Sulphur Poly-wing parachute Dun.

Sixteen-inch Spring Creek brown taken on a #12 Sulphur Poly-wing Parachute Dun.

And since he, or rather, “she” was a nice trout, she warranted a few more pics:

head out of water, in the net. I always try to keep larger fish in the water, and always do when I'm photographing the fish by myself. And with a net.

Head out of water, in the net. I always try to keep larger fish in the water, and always do when I’m photographing the fish by myself. And with a net. You can see my fingers underneath her. To those unaware, the absence of a kype or hooked jaw, indicates this trout is a female.

And here she is posing in a lovely full-body image:

16" Spring Creek Brown, taken ion a #12 Sulfur Poly-wing  Parachute Dun.

16″ Spring Creek Brown, taken on a #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun.

I took another smaller trout later on:

Smaller trout, about ten inches,

Smaller trout, about ten inches, you can clearly see the parachute dun. When I want to photograph trout like this, I actually bring the trout in close, then before I touch the fish, I turn on my camera and hit the macro button. Sometimes after doing this the trout gets away, but I don’t care, I’m releasing it anyway. Once the camera is readied and “on,” I grab the fish, snap a pic, unhook the fly, and they’re quickly back in the water. I wet my hands first. When doing this I have the fish out of the water for about 5 – 6 seconds.

At this point I want to say, anyone keeping fish out of the water for photographs for more than ten seconds after you have played them into submission, presents the risk of harming the fish through lack of oxygen. Speed it up, preferably, respect the fish, and keep them out of the water as little as possible. Imagine someone holding your head under a bucket of water to take photos of you immediately after you just ran the 200-yard dash. That is the position the trout are in when we bring them to hand. And don’t get them on shore where you can drop them and have them slip and flop out of your grasp and die from trauma after being released. I recently read a study on steelhead trout, tagged with radio collars in the Pacific Northwest, where a significant number were dying after being caught and released. The data discovered that most of these fish died of head trauma, caused by thrashing about or being dropped onto the rocks on shore, and not from being hooked with rod and reel.

And here is the intact rig with the actual flies that did the deeds:

Size #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun

Size #12 Sulfur Poly-wing Parachute Dun with a #14 Floating “Sulfur” Emerger, patterned exactly after my Floating “Caddis” Emerger – the only change is the body dubbing color to ginger and I use orange thread. There was only eight inches of 5x tippet separating the two flies. Both flies are treated frequently with floatant.

This two-dry system works. I plan to try a Sulfur Dun and Sulfur Spinner together, that way the trout won’t treat me with disrespect like they did last year one evening, when the dun hatch fizzled out, and there were tons of spinners in the air, I thought I knew better and tied on a spinner. I ended up casting the spinner to about fifty rising trout, only to hook a handful of them. Turned out the dun hatch reignited and went gangbusters from about 8:15 until dusk, and the trout took the duns to my dismay, but I learned that lesson. I should have recognized that sooner. In the type of pocket and riffle water I was fishing, a Dun / Spinner two-dry fly rig will work. I’m about to test that out. 😉

Here are two links to articles on the Sulfur Emerger I wrote last May 2013, including the recipe and tying instructions:

https://donbastianwetflies.com/2013/05/31/bastians-floating-caddis-sulphur-emerger/

https://donbastianwetflies.com/2013/05/31/bastians-floating-sulphur-emerger-part-ii/

Musical Fly Tying

I nearly always listen to music while I am tying flies. This weekend I am continuing the work on an order of twenty-one dozen drys; four dozen each: sulfur duns and PMD duns in four styles; sizes #14, #16, #18; the boxed selections as listed on MyFlies.com: http://www.myflies.com/Sulphur-Mayfly-Duns-Four-pack-Selection-P828.aspx and the remaining twelve-plus dozen is all my Floating Caddis / Mayfly Emerger patterns in standard and custom sizes and colors. I just tied the first two – ever – of my Floating Caddis Emerger in size #20. With the Hi-Vis indicator, and a custom dark dun half-wing, that gives the pattern nine components – yeah – seriously – on a size #20 dry fly hook. They are turning out very well. I like the looks of these “Micro-Emergers” very much! I have every confidence that these little guys possess serious potential to give trout a sore mouth. I’ll do some photos of them before I ship the order; if I can, remember, for those of you following my posts regularly, I have been having camera trouble and can not shoot on Shutter Speed Priority. I’ll have to see what I can do on the still-working automatic setting.

Listening to the Best of the Corrs CD while tying those #20 “Micro-mergers” – there I just thought of a name for them – plus the fact I checked some information this morning in an older post I made last year, that had little to do with fly tying and a lot do do with music, combined with recent renewed interest in my 1970’s vintage Premier drum kit, has prompted this short break from tying to make this post. I did some editing on this archived post post this morning: https://donbastianwetflies.com/2012/08/08/flytying-music-and-singing/

Perhaps if you have time and like music, you may find it interesting. Continuing on with the renewed interest in my drum set; I got them set up properly over a month ago in late July and have been playing them periodically. In the middle of this past week, I started looking on eBay for drum accessories. Amazing volume of stuff there. I thought I would add a couple cymbals to my set. With some really good prices, I could not resist. So far I have bought, used, but in very good condition, a Zildjian A 17″ Medium Thin Crash, and a Zildjian A 15″ Thin Crash. Both cymbals are nearly in new condition, one has a “flea’bite” which is a small nick in the edge, for $130. That will do diddly to negatively effect the playability of the cymbal. The retail price of these two cymbals is nearly $400. I am also “watching” a few 14 Zildjian A 14″ Fast Crash Cymbals, within the week I’ll pick up one of those too. In addition, I also found, rather unbelievably, a 1975 Premier natural birchwood finish 16″ x 16″ floor tom-tom that is a perfect match to my set. I bought that too. Paid more for it alone than I did for my entire set in 1978, $200, bought it used back then from a local drummer who needed the cash. The new floor tom-tom will replace the old Ludwig non-matching white pearl floor tom-tom I used to use.

I also am bidding on some hardware; a Ludwig floor cymbal stand and a Ludwig boom stand. Guess I’ll be needing at least two boom stands when I get this set where I want it. I already have a 16″ Zildjian Medium Thin Crash cymbal that dates from my rocking days in the ’70’s. It’s the one on the high stand to the immediate right of the set. Here’s a photo of my Premier Drum Set:

My drum set - a vintage  Premier PD6500 Powerhouse set.

My drum set – a vintage Premier PD6500 Powerhouse drum set. The hardware is not Premier; that is all Ludwig except the stand on the far right is Rogers. The ride cymbal on the left is a vintage Zildjian from the ’60’s, and I also have a 22″ vintage 1950’s -’60’s Zildjian ride cymbal that needs a stand.

I am going to have to move the entire set out from the corner of the room a bit when I add the second floor tom-tom, and the additional cymbals and stands. I am also giving serious thought to starting a band or perhaps joining a local rock band if one should need a drummer. I haven’t played in a rock band since 1979. I can also substitute a little bit as both lead and back-up singer. Playing in a band won’t curtail my fly fishing-tying circuit that much, and there is always the possibility that due to rising costs of table fees, hotels, gas, meals, and other expenses, I’ll stop eventually doing the major Fly Fishing Shows. Just a possibility, I will have to see what transpires with my band ideas.

I’m going to sell the small 14″ Ludwig Standard cymbal on the right, and then I’ll have four Zildjian crash cymbals in order, 14″, 15″, 16″ and 17″; plus the two ride cymbals and the hi-hat. Sweet! I can’t wait!

Here is a photo of my grandsons, Gabriel and Andrew, banging it up during their visit in July:

My grandson Gabriel rocks on!

My grandson Gabriel rocks on! With some help from little brother Andrew. Are they having fun or what?!

Those boys loved those drums!

I’ll soon be making custom music CD’s loaded with all types of music that In can pipe into my family room and play along anytime I want. Listening to and playing along with my favorite songs, now, that’s great fun, relaxation, stress-relief, and entertainment. In between drumming breaks I’ll be listening to music while tying flies.

Boat Dog

One of my friends and a fly customer, Steve Sawczuk, from Plainville, Connecticut, invited me this past winter to join his group again at the Wantastiquet Trout Club near Weston, Vermont. We arrived on June 16th, and spent several days there. Fellow fly tier and friend, Roger Plourde, was there,  – See my Silk Gut for Sale Post – that’s Roger, he still has some available. He is also from Plainville and was an invited guest as well. Last year Steve invited me, and I ended up taking Abigail, my Cocker Spaniel, along. We had great fishing to evening hatches of yellow drakes, and we hoped to hit that hatch again. We were a week later, but last year the weather was unseasonably warm early on. There were six of us in the group: Steve, Roger, Dick Heffernon, Bill Keister, Ray Riley, and myself. This year Abigail tagged along again, and Zeb, a Border Collie mixed-breed, owned by Ray, another Trout Club member, joined the group as well. He and Abigail got along great. Zeb rides in the boat. Abigail on the other hand, at eleven-and-a-half years of age, has never been in a boat in her life. That was, not until this past June 17th.

Zeb and Ray

Zeb and Ray returning to our camp at the Wantastiquet Trout Club.

On Monday afternoon, I decided to try taking Abigail in the boat. At first she was hesitant, in fact, probably terrified is a better description, because I could not coax her to come to me in the boat. I actually had to get out of the boat and catch her, then physically carry her back to the dock and place her in the boat. Once we motored off, she pretty much settled down and was about as passive and uninterested as she possibly could be about the whole experience. We drifted and anchored and motored about, trying here and there, catching a decent number of trout, and yet Abigail seemed, well, bored, which she expressed by lying flat on her side. But she’s a very low-key dog anyway, unless there is some possibility of her snagging a morsel of food. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog treat or people food, regardless, she wants it, twenty-four-seven. I feed her one cup of kibble per day and a few other treats, and that’s it. Whenever she’s in a group of people, no matter how many, if only one had some food, even a stranger, Abigail becomes their new best friend. She was a little overweight for a couple years when my mother-in-law was caring for her during a rather unsettled period of my life from 2008 to August of 2011, but once I got her back and got her food under control, she’s right where she’s supposed to be with her weight.

Arriving at camp there was an immediate problem, because Zeb is fed with an “open feeding” policy, and the very first thing Abigail did upon entering the cabin was to follow her nose, zero in on Zeb’s bowl and start eating his food. I wrote Ray in an e-mail beforehand indicating that she would do that. The poor little girl is now also about ninety-percent deaf. Fortunately even as a pup, I trained her not only with voice commands, but also simultaneously used hand-signals as well. That has proven to be fortuitous. When she was a younger dog, it was a good feeling to simply give her a mere hand signal and have her come, sit, stay, etc. Now, it helps a great deal, and could even save her life.

Anyway, with each occasion that Abigail got into the boat, she got more used to it, and I believe she grew to enjoy it more and more. The first two times when we docked up after fishing, she was afraid to make the three-inch jump from the seat of the boat to the dock. But the third and subsequent times, she left the boat without hesitation.

Abigail

Abigail – the “Boat Dog” – surveys the lake as Ken Hall, aka Quill Gordon, author of Fish in A Barrel Pond Blog, handles the trolling motor, guiding us to a “hot spot” on the lake. Sorry to cut your body out of the photo Ken, but Abigail is the star of this show. Besides, your pictures are coming up soon.

This is a photo of our camp.

This is a photo of our camp. That’s Ray on his cell phone, talking on the porch because you can’t get a signal inside. Funny how moving just a few feet makes the difference in the signal strength.

heavy weather moving in.

Heavy weather moving in Tuesday afternoon on Wantastiquet Lake. At the time I was in the boat with Dick Heffernon, another guest in the party. We had a bit of an experience with this approaching storm.

On that Monday afternoon I was with Dick in the boat, and the storm was well to the north at first, though we could hear the thunder far off. We were hopeful that it would pass without incident. After a little while, there seemed to be darkening clouds gathering more to our immediate west, and we thought about moving the boat closer to camp, just in case we had to bolt for the dock.

Clouds and rain in t

Clouds and increasing wind create ominous conditions of an imminent storm.

At about this point, I looked to the west, and there appeared to be a bank of fog moving in. But I knew it was no fog bank. It was rain; the kind of rain that is so heavy it can cut visibility to near-zero. Visibility was still good, however, and I estimated the rain was about two miles distant. Dick and I quickly agreed that we’d better haul our butts toward shore. Roger and Ray had passed us about five minutes earlier, calling the fishing over for a while, with the thunder approaching and getting louder.  But right before we made the decision to get of the water, Dick got his fly line got tangled around the propeller on the trolling motor. I dropped the anchor to keep us from drifting down the lake, which would have carried us farther away from our dock and camp. When Dick raised the motor up, he could see that there was no hope of untangling his line from the prop, considering the wave action effecting the boat, plus the reality that Dick would have to be possessing the body of a professional gymnast or a contortionist circus performer to assume the necessary posture and balance to do the work at hand. And that he is not, nor am I. Option number two was to row, row, row the boat back. But there wasn’t going to be any singing of that traditional campfire round during this trip.

Just then a fantastic, jagged, sprawling, and very bright jolt of lightning streaked across the sky over the mountain to the north. The ends of its long, scraggly fingers dipped below the horizon, perhaps a strike somewhere. I quickly pulled the anchor, mounted the oars, and started rowing. We had to travel about a quarter of a mile. When we were about 100 yards from the dock, the wind increased exponentially in velocity, seeming to blow about thirty or more miles per hour. It came up very fast, and despite my best exertion of rowing strength and efforts of guidance with the oars, we missed the mark and the boat settled against the shore, fortunately though, only about thirty feet from end of the dock. By now it was starting to rain, luckily for us not pouring, but the wind was blowing like it was during the storm scene from the movie The Wizard of Oz. Except in our situation there was no funnel cloud, no musical sound track, and the Wicked Witch of the West was not flying across the sky on her broom threatening to cart me and Abigail off to her lair. In retrospect that would have been a perfect and entertaining time for me to do my best falsetto imitation of the Wicked Witch: “I’ll get you yet, my pretty, and your little dog, too! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, h-a-a-a-a-a!”

Dick and I managed to reach the dock, chain the boat, and get out of Dodge. It had started raining, though not real heavy yet, which was a good thing because we had to walk about fifty yards to our camp. Just as we reached the safety of the cabin, the wind and rain arrived with a vengeance. Indeed, in less than one minute the rain was so heavy we could not see across the lake, and in fact, we could barely see the dock fifty feet away. The cabin porch faces directly to the west, and the wind drove that rain right through the screens onto the porch and everything on it. Fortunately a half-hour later the storm had passed and the lake was again calm. We watched as a few trout started rising, but we made a trip to the grocery at Londonderry, and after returning, we hung around camp, enjoying camaraderie, libations, and cigars while waiting for dinner. I also set up my fly tying stuff and hoped to tie a few more extended-body Yellow Drakes, since most of the guys took trout on them Sunday evening, despite that fact there was not really a big hatch of them. What I actually ended up doing that afternoon was repair several flies that I had given Steve and Roger. Steve had one of my Yellow Drakes from the year before, that the hackle came partially unwound – see this post from Fish in A Barrel Pond Blog: http://fishinabarrelpond.com/2012/06/25/trout-candy-eye-candy/ So I repaired it for him, a simple matter of attaching a new hackle feather.

I’ve never had one of my extended body drake patterns fall apart in any way, but Roger had one where the thread ribbing over the extended abdomen came off. I basically made a new abdomen, cut off the old one, and attached the new one in its place. Ken was watching me do this work, and the guys were all getting a big kick out of it and commenting on “Don’s Fly Repair.” At one point Ken made the remark, “Would you like to purchase a Service Agreement with that fly for an additional five dollars? Guaranteed repairs for the life of the fly.” By the time I completed the repairs, it was time for me to clear the table for dinner. I had made lasagna ahead of time on Sunday morning before my departure, chilled but not baked it, and also created a tossed salad, and a fresh-made pecan pie (I made it myself) that was still warm when we served it right after dinner. If you checked the post above, you’ll note from Quill Gordon’s photos that the weather was nice enough in 2012 for me to have my tying stuff permanently set up on the cabin porch. That was the year we were sipping the “Weapons Grade Head Cement Thinner, aka Moonshine. 😉 It was too cold this year. We had a few night time temps in the upper forties and low fifties.

I don't know whether Abigail was looking or sniffing, probably both.

I don’t know whether Abigail was looking or sniffing, probably both. Something seemed to have her attention. Perhaps she saw a fish.

Abigail, Queen of the Boat.

Abigail, Queen of the Boat.

The middle seat became Abigail's favorite resting place.

The middle seat became Abigail’s favorite resting place. Yeah, as her owner, I’m partial and prejudiced, she’s a beautiful little girl and her beauty is only enhanced by her sweet disposition. Ray noted her facial markings are appropriate, her eye mask makes her appear like a little bandit. Indeed!

Ken and I motored about, here and there…picking up an occasional trout.

At one point we passed close to Ray and Roger.

At one point we passed close to Ray and Roger…and Zeb.

Zeb is very interested in what goes on in the boat. He sees trout rise and practically goes on point if they surface close to the boat. He knows the sound and the reason of a reel drag, and has learned to associate that sound with a hooked fish. He still gets excited even if one of the anglers in his boat merely strips off more line to make a longer cast. He loves being in the boat so much that he’ll just go sit on the dock and wait, hoping to go fishing.

Ken Hall

“Quill Gordon” has a fish on.

Ken, aka Quill Gordon, wrote a post on his blog and made a few remarks about our visit and my time with him in the boat. To check that out follow this link:

http://fishinabarrelpond.com/2013/06/22/stubbornly-waiting-for-drakes/

The Caddis Emerger Ken refers to in his writing is my Floating Caddis Emerger, or more appropriately, my older pattern called the Hatching Caddis Adult, which is also another surface caddis emerger pattern.

On Tuesday afternoon, I was with Steve in the boat. We trolled a bit and drifted here and there. He was fishing various nymphs and drys with a George Mauer Sweetwater bamboo rod, a seven-foot, nine-inch seven weight. I used my sink-tip and was casting a Wooly Bugger. I managed to draw only two strikes, and Steve had done nothing. I said, “I’m thinking of putting on my Floating Caddis Emerger, I can’t do any worse with that than I am with this Bugger.” Next thing I know, in barely three minutes, Steve has a fish on. I asked, “What did you get him on?”

“You’re not gonna believe this, but I got him on your emerger pattern,” He replied.

“No s***!” I exclaimed. I hadn’t even noticed that he changed flies. Steve soon got another trout. By then I changed to a floating line and also put on a Floating Caddis Emerger, a tan-bodied pattern. Steve caught another trout. And another. And another. Meanwhile I could not buy a strike with my fly. I inspected his, and it was one of some that he had tied during the winter, with a darker ginger-brown body than what I had. What we both found interesting too, was that if no trout took the fly after the cast was made, rather than pick up and cast again, Steve worked the fly in slowly with a hand-twist retrieve. It would remain on the surface, or just under the film, so he’d either see a surface take or a swirl and feel the strike. And as my luck would have it I had left a container of those flies at home on my tying table. By the time he tallied seven trout on that fly in less than an hour, Ray and Steve trolled by. “Are you guys getting anything?” Roger queried.

“Steve is kicking my ass with my pattern,” I answered laughingly. Steve chuckled with obvious satisfaction.

“What’s that?” Roger inquired.

“My Floating Caddis Emerger,” I said. “The tally for our boat is: Steve – seven, me ZIP!”

A little while later, Steve offered for me to try casting his Mauer bamboo rod. He had mentioned that earlier, since indicating in an e-mail that he’d he recently bought that rod, I replied that I had known George Mauer for a few years before he passed away. The wind had died down and the lake was flat. I can’t say what the trout thought this fly was, because there were no caddis about, other than an occasional stray. Yet as we drifted about fifty yards from shore near a small cove, the first trout that rose within casting distance, fortunately for me, rose twice, just as I was making a cast. I was also standing up, which helped me adjust quickly. I was able to immediately alter my distance and targeting, and sighting the two rises in succession I determined the fish was moving from right to left. Trout in lakes and ponds seldom remain stationary as they do in flowing water. They cruise for food and it’s always a crap-shoot when you try to target a rising trout in a lake because he’s got a three-hundred sixty degree radius for possible movement and change of direction after the rise. I led the second rise by about four feet, hoping he was moving in that direction, and as luck would have it, he must have seen it hit the water. The trout came right up, slowly, we could both see the fish. He tipped up and without hesitation, kept coming and gently sucked in the fly. “Fish on!”

I offered Steve his rod back, but he was relaxing in his chair, smoking a cigar and said, “No, you go ahead.”

“Thanks! I’ll take you up on that.” I replied. We drifted a while, I cast here and there, enjoying the feel of the rod, and occasionally Steve turned the prop on the trolling motor a bit to keep the boat positioned just off shore. The next trout I took I did so while I was fishing blind, in other words, casting without seeing any rises. The water was flat calm and suddenly as I watched my fly, I saw something white off to the right, it was moving, then I realized it was the belly of a trout. Then I saw the shape of the fish. He was closing the distance to the fly, rising up, and just like the first trout, never stopped until he reached the fly and confidently gulped it in. Fish on again!  It was a very good feeling that we had success with my pattern during rather adverse conditions. Or at least the conditions did not seem so adverse, it was a nice, calm afternoon, it’s just that the trout were not on the feed.  Steve and I tallied nine trout that afternoon, to the other guy’s couple, or maybe three per boat. When we got back to camp, I made myself a spicy Bloody Mary and set about tying a batch of ginger-colored #16 Floating Caddis Emergers.

Quill Gordon brings a trout to the boat.

Quill Gordon brings a trout to the boat.

On Tuesday evening Ken offered to take me in the boat. Abigail and I graciously agreed. The photo above is of Ken landing one of the fish he took. I took two fish on my Floating Caddis Emerger, since we really were not seeing Yellow Drakes in numbers to say there was an actual hatch. And this was after Steve had done so well with it earlier in the day. But alas, I lost my last Floating Caddis Emerger in a fish, doing something that I know from experience I should not have done. Life is like that. On occasion we do the wrong thing even when we know better. I grabbed the 5x tippet and held on to it, trying to remove the fly from the jaw of a fourteen-inch brown, and when he made a sudden lunge, I hung on, and he broke the tippet knot and took the fly. I could have replaced it with one of two well-worn Floating Caddis Emergers, but I have retired both of them from service, except that I ask them to pose for an occasional photo to demonstrate their effectiveness. The photo posted there, of one of them, in late December of 2012, and again below, was one I took thirty-four trout with. The foam overback is all chewed and tattered, but otherwise the fly is intact. I ended up using an older pattern, another original fly I created in 1996 that was actually the predecessor to my Floating Caddis Emerger, mentioned above, it’s called the Hatching Caddis Adult. There’s a whole ‘nother collection of fish stories about that pattern as well. I’ll add that pattern and recipe and fish stories here sometime next week.

As I fished the Hatching Caddis Adult, a dry fly pattern similar in a number of ways to the Floating Caddis Emerger, I demonstrated to Ken how, if during a retrieve or pull of the line, that fly, due to its components and design, when treated with floatant,  submerges, but then when you stop, it resurfaces. The pattern literally breaks through the surface film. So does the Floating Caddis Emerger. I had demonstrated that about three times, even saying, “Watch this!”

Ken said, “That’s pretty cool,” and just then, SWOOSH! A nice trout struck the fly. But he missed, there was no connection when I raised the rod tip. But the point was made with additional emphasis from the fish. Nice!

A well-used Bastian's Floating Cadis Emerger, this fly lanede thirty-four trout in May of 2006.

A well-used Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger, this fly landed thirty-four trout on Spring Creek, Pennsylvania, one day in May of 2006. This pattern can be ordered from Orvis, http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=7R6A

I recently created a revised version of the Floating Caddis Emerger pattern that I have been selling. Bastian’s Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emerger with a ginger body, as I’m calling the revised pattern is available to order from me. I made a couple alterations to change the fly so it would not compete with the contract I have with Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger with the Orvis Company.

Bastian's Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emerger

Bastian’s Floating Caddis-Mayfly Emerger. I decided to add the chartreuse foam strip for an indicator to improve visibility of the pattern. The other difference is that instead of a single hackle wrap, I side-lashed hen back fibers for the legs.

Other than myself, the first anglers to test the new Hi-vis version of my Floating Caddis Emerger were Tom Ukena and his wife Sue, of Northborough, Massachusetts. They were on the Missouri River the first week of June, guiding with Tim Linehan, the Orvis 2013 Guide of the Year, and they really did extremely well with that pattern, taking as Tom wrote in an e-mail, “a good number of great fish, 18″ to 21”. I’ll be making a separate post about that fly before too long.

There was a nesting pair of loons on the lake this year.

There was a nesting pair of loons on the lake this year. The male stands guard not far offshore from the nest, and believe me, we knew he did. Not alarmed by our boats, but when a great blue heron flew over he cut loose with a loud, raucous, threatening series of calls and wails that I’m sure, included what would pass for loon profanity. The heron kept his distance.

The female loon on the nest, incubating two eggs.

The female loon on the nest, incubating two eggs. The top of her mate’s head is in the foreground.

On Quill Gordon’s Stubbornly Waiting for Drakes post, there is a photo of both loons and their freshly-hatched chicks on the water. And a bunch of yellow drakes too. Check it out!

PorterCove

Porter Cove on Wantastiquet Lake. I was in the boat with Bill, and while there I took two trout on my Floating Caddis Emerger. One of them was a fifteen-inch brown that smashed the fly like a largemouth bass hitting a plug. The water here is quite shallow, and since it was flat, I had to make some pretty long casts, probably sixty feet, to take trout. That’s one reason why I favor a six or seven-weight rod for boat and float tube fishing. Too much effort to struggle with a three or four-weight, especially if it’s windy and long casts are required. Even if you can cast fifty or sixty feet with a three-weight, it usually requires an extra effort of false casting. I believe ninety percent of all your casts can and should be made with only two backcasts – including your pickup stroke. In the end the reason for this is all about increasing your fishing efficiency.

Sunday June 16th on my way to camp, I stopped at the American Museum of Fly Fishing in nearby Manchester on a prearranged visit. Deputy Curator Yoshi Akiyama had the remaining seven plates of the original Orvis flies that were published in Mary Orvis Marbury’s book Favorite Flies and Their Histories, 1892, gathered together for me to photograph. They were not there in June in 2012 when I made the initial series of photos for my upcoming book, Favorite Fishing Flies – 1892. On my way back to Pennsylvania on Thursday June 20th, I stopped again at the museum and photographed another dozen or so flies from the 1893 Orvis Fly Display that I had not previously included. I’ll be adding these pattens to my book, increasing the number of additional fly patterns to about two-hundred twenty-five, beyond the two-hundred ninety-one from Marbury’s book. By the way, the new display, The Wonders of Fly Fishing, is now open at the Museum.

And so concludes another visit to Wantastiquet Lake. We all had a great time!

I just threw some seasoned chicken thighs on the grill, turned the heat down low, and I’ll leave them slow cook for at least an hour. In the meantime, I’m going to go make myself a spicy Bloody Mary.

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).