Basics of Fly Fishing: Trout Food Series - Top Tips on Caddisflies
1. What is the number one problem anglers have fishing a caddisfly hatch?
They don't recognize the hatch is occurring until it is too late to do them any good.
Most of the time, the caddisflies are eaten as emerging pupae. This can be
anywhere from the bottom to the surface depending on the species of caddisfly.
That is one reason why it is important to know your caddisflies. If you don't know
one from the other, you don't know where they hatch in the stream (location) or in
the water column. Anglers see the caddisflies, but they don't see the trout eating
2. How do you tell when the trout are eating caddisfly pupae?
When you first start seeing caddisflies flying off the water in the air, but not thick on
the banks or bushes, the hatch has started. Start looking for "flashes" of trout. The
only thing you usually see when trout take a caddisfly pupae, is a flash of the fish or
sometimes the white of its mouth. In a few cases, where the particular caddisfllies
are hatching mid stream at mid depths, you will see the trout jump completely out of
the water chasing them up in the water column. If you see trout jumping out of the
water but you can't see anything on the surface of the water, most likely they are
eating caddisfly pupae.
3. Do some trout eat the adults before they leave the water when the hatch
is taking place?
Yes, this often occurs when the water is cold or around 50 degrees of less. The
newly hatched adults have a difficult time drying their wings and flying away. Trout
eat them the same way they eat a mayfly on the surface hatching. This isn't often,
but it occurs with the Mother's Day hatch, for example, or the Little Black Caddis in
the Smokies. We haven't gotten into species yet. That will come later.
4. What type constitutes the majority of caddisflies found in trout waters?
By far, the most plentiful species of caddisflies in trout waters are the net-spinners.
They represent about 70% of all caddisflies. We will get into species later on in this
section about aquatic insects. For now, just be aware that out of the case builders,
net-spinners and free-living caddisflies (all three types of larvae), the net spinners
are the most plentiful. That isn't true in the Smokies, however. I need to point that
out. In the Smokies, the free-living are fairly plentiful, the case builders fairly
plentiful and the net-spinners not plentiful, except in Abrams Creek where they
represent the majority. We will get into this later. I just didn't want anyone thinking
the Smokies fit this tip and added this qualification. In our local tailwaters; however,
the net-spinners are by far the most plentiful.
5. In summary and in general, what would be your best tip about
If you want to catch trout during a caddisfly hatch, put your dry flies up and fish only
imitations of the pupae. If it is the Little Black Caddis, or a very few other species,
trout will take the dry fly during the hatch, but 90% of caddisflies hatching will eat
the pupae and ignore the adults until they begin depositing their eggs. You will
catch more on the pupa imitation, even during the Black Caddis hatch.