Sunday, October 19, 2014

October Caddis Hairwing Wetfly

     This is the basic Western hairwing wetfly that I tie for October caddis. It is an indigenous fly in both function & form. I developed this one to fish for October caddis on the upper Columbia, but it travels well, & is also a basic for coastal cutthroat & steelhead. 

Unlike the last few hairwings featured in this series, it seeks to imitate a certain insect, covering two stages of October caddis: either a winged emerger, or a drowned spinner. I find this style most useful in simulating the emergent phase of drake mayflies & October caddis, larger insects that rise from the bottom fully winged or wings unfurling. Particularly October caddis & black quill (Leptophlebia), an important large mayfly in the Columbia drainage which unfurls its wings prior to emergence, the large black wing a standout feature of the natural. 

A hairwing, in the right size & color, functions as an effective emerger when fishing over black quill, in fact, essential, in my own experience. I spent a lot of frustrating seasons unable to conceive a satisfactory emerging nymph pattern to meet the great black quill hatches of my home water. Until I met some fisheries biologists setting traps for sturgeon larvae. Sampling in about ten feet of water, the traps, set on the bottom, kept plugging up with large nymphs, & the crew showed me their haul & asked me if I could identify the nymphs. They were mahogany all over in coloration, with a striking yellow banding between the abdomen segments, & I was able to identify them because they looked just like the adults. I was surprised that the nymphs were found so deep, but most surprising were the wings unfurling from the distended, black wing pads of the fully mature nymphs. 

Dayum… I thought to myself, they’re swimming up from ten feet deep! trailing that big ol’ black wing! 

Needless to say, I was fishing a winged version of the nymph the following evening, & immediate results let me know I was finally on the right track. Wasn’t too unlike my experience with October caddis. Much as I love wingless patterns, sometimes there is no ignoring the wing as a stand-out feature that must be dealt with.      

October Caddis Hairwing

Hook: I tie these on a #8 steelhead style or TMC 200R

Thread: Rust-brown UNI 8/0

Rib: Copper wire

Abdomen: Umpqua Sparkle Blend October Caddis dubbing (rusty orange) on a loop of the tying thread

Thorax: Mixed, 3/4 natural bluish-gray rabbit with guard hairs, 1/4 Orange Sparkle Blend – don’t over-blend – dubbed on a loop of the tying thread   

Wing: Pine squirrel tail – tie in one mottled turkey tail feather fiber as a cheek on each side of the wing

Hackle: One turn of orange hen or saddle ahead of the wing, then to the hook eye with furnace hen ~ & finish.

Flyfish NE Washington with Steven Bird:

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