Saturday, November 16, 2019

Soft~Hackle Journal November / December

Canadian Reach ~ Upper Columbia River



Everything changes.

Back at winter camp. Got in late. Home, the cats, restless since Paso Robles, scrambled over our laps & poured from the truck ecstatic the moment we opened the doors. While unloading we could hear the waves breaking down on the beach, over on the other side of HWY 1, reminding me to check the tide book first thing in the morning.

It was an odd year in our part of the Northwest. Cooler temperatures this summer with rain, & not so many forest fires this year. An arctic cold front curved down a week after the last day of summer, & stayed, bringing us straight into winter. It snowed in September. The outdoor shower froze & busted & the ground froze solid before we could finish setting posts for a new garden fence, & stayed frozen. 

The cold weather didn’t put much of a damper on the October Caddis hatch, & the imitations worked well from the first week of September until at least the second week of November. Fishing was good; Gary LaFontaine was right: October Caddis is the most important big-fish insect of the West. And to that I would add: OC is the most effective insect to imitate & proffer on a swing presentation – making it particularly valuable to those who practice Trout Spey. The season past & done, I’m already looking forward to next Fall.

But no need to rush things, life is short enough. The mighty Columbia has other sweet seasons as well. Like all rivers, it has seasons of peak activity & also slow seasons of touchy, unreliable trouting. We won’t sell anybody on a trip during the dog-days of August, for example. The health of our fishery is #1 priority. Fishing only short seasons through the most productive periods reduces stress on our trout. And guided fishing trips are expensive, for some, the dreamed-of, anticipated trip of a lifetime, so we’re committed to making that adventure the best possible.

Because we see a growing interest lately, & because we happen to live beside the Mecca of Trout Spey, the 2020 guided trip itinerary puts more emphasis on Trout Spey. Anyone interested in meeting the U.S. upper Columbia, booking a trip, or just curious, get more info here: 

                                                 A Few Things I Like

From time to time SHJ includes reviews of things I like. Mom said: “If you don’t have something good to say about something, better to not say anything at all.” So, in an effort to do the least harm possible, I only post the positive ones. Here are a few things I’m liking:

    The Red Truck Diesel Reel

I’ve always preferred the simplicity & utilitarian longevity of quality click-pawl reels for trout & steelhead fishing. I love the sound – & there is no drag system more sensitive than a human hand against a spool rim. A thing I don’t like is: watching somebody lose a good fish while faffing around adjusting the disc-drag setting on the stupid reel, attention off the battle. Using a click-pawl, the angler develops an intuitive skill set, applying just the right drag pressure with the palm or fingers, eyes on the fight, not the drag adjustment knob. I & my clients have been using the Red Truck Diesel click-pawl reels on the camp Spey rods for several seasons now – the Chrome Spey on #5 & heavier Spey rods; & the Diesel 7/8 on the lighter two-handers (also good on 6-8wt single-handers) – & with as many days on them as the average angler might put on in a lifetime, they still perform as well as they did right out of the box. These are narrow-spool, large-diameter reels, which I prefer, as they pick up line quickly, & the running line coming off the reel in large, relaxed loops. A good kind of reel on the UC, where larger trout are in the habit of charging you, requiring rapid line recovery. In looks, the Diesel series reels very closely resemble the Hardy Marquis; in construction, fit & finish, they are at least equal to the Hardy – & with a larger, more user-friendly winding knob than the Marquis. At about half the price of a Hardy, I think anyone seeking a reliable click-pawl with classic good looks would be more than happy with the Red Truck Diesel reels.



                         Goodnews River

My favorite read this past season was Goodnews River (Stackpole), a collection of short fictions by Scott Sadil. Scott has published several worthwhile collections of short stories but, I think, flexes his writing chops with Goodnews River, & in the process stretches angling literature beyond the more familiar first-person tropes. A teacher of English & Literature, Sadil knows the rules – & in knowing them is able to break them to affect. Rare in angling lit, which is most often delivered as first-person narrative (like Gierach, the cool, well-traveled gentleman you meet in a cabana bar, telling you a story over a beer), Sadil’s narratives are written in third-person-omnipresent, a literary approach, if done well, affording the writer the greatest opportunity to create cinema in the reader’s mind (Cormac McCarthy; Genesis). Sadil pulls it off well, no hint of author judgment to skew the narrative. Readers experience the story through character dialogue & actions. Descriptions of the natural world are fresh, sometimes stunning, reflecting the author’s canny powers of observation. Characters inhabiting Sadil’s tales are fleshed, nuanced & true to life. Protagonists are existential, flawed & multifaceted, not entirely lovable, some not even likeable. There is angling in all of these tales, though it isn’t the principle subject, rather, a reality touchstone where Sadil’s troubled protagonists find reprieve from the human struggles they are dealing with. The nexus of the stories is not fishing, generally, but a twisty exploration of human relationships & foibles. Sadil pulls no punches here – we meet a steelheading English teacher who arrives at work hoping nobody notices the rug-burn rash beneath his lower lip, the result of his face spending too much time between his skier girlfriend’s muscular thighs. Each story in Goodnews River is a quirky postcard of sorts, a slice of life offered unabashed. Sadil abuses the traditional story arc. He jumps you into a story without preamble. Details present themselves. There are no clear, neatly resolved endings – as in life, events of the Goodnews River stories fractalize, sometimes to obscure, unrealized futures, sometimes to chaos, unresolved, yet poignant reminders that, in the end, we really can’t resist the stream in all of its ambiguous funkiness, its unconditional majesty.  With Good News River, Scott Sadil masterfully demonstrates how literary fiction, possibly better than memoir, dissects reality, exposing the truth of things. 

Steelhead Zulu ~ Mark Hagopian

   Steelhead Zulu ~ Mark Hagopian

Another thing I like. Couldn’t wait to share this one it looks so fishy to me. Longtime SHJ supporter & Northeast correspondent, Mark Hagopian, sent us this take on the old Zulu, a pattern deserving its longevity. Mark tied this version for steelheading on the Salmon River, in New York State. A good bait for Columbia River trout too, so we can see that the Zulu travels well. Originally fished by the English as a much smaller fly, I really like Mark’s large, steelhead version of it. I tie a version in #6-#8 for Trout Spey on the UC & it does work well on the big redbands, in the larger hook sizes.

Steelhead Zulu
Hook: #2 TMC 7999
Thread: claret/wine
Tailing: red American opossum fur twisted in loop, topped with red holographic Chroma Flash
Rib: flat, medium, silver French tinsel
Body: black, dubbed, a mixture of Senyo’s Fusion & Diamond Brite
Palmer: black saddle
Collars: burnt goose, rear in black; front, kingfisher blue

                                                      The Reel News

Can we live with nuclear?

A win for steelhead.

Whitman on being.

Duncan River ~ British Columbia

                               American Masters of the Wetfly ~ Jeff Cottrell

Our tier this issue is Jeff Cottrell who, as a kid, won a fly tying contest & a fishing trip with Dave Whitlock & Ernie Shwiebert. For better or worse, that served to boost him toward a lifelong career in fly fishing, including guiding stints in California, Colorado, Wyoming, Tierra del Fuego, Russia, & Washington State, where he now resides, working as lodge manager for the Evening Hatch. Jeff is an angler’s angler. When not busy with The Hatch, he is a handy builder/carpenter & interior designer, his artist’s eye & attention to craft certainly reflected in both his woodwork & elegant wetfly designs. In Jeff’s flies we see familiarity with traditional design frames & the talent & knowledge to combine their elements to create great baits. 
Jeff Cottrell

Jeff Cottrell
Jeff Cottrell

Jeff Cottrell
Jeff Cottrell
Jeff Cottrell
Jeff Cottrell
Jeff Cottrell
Jeff Cottrell

                                         Why do men have nipples?

           They're actually tattoos. Indicating the man belongs to a woman somewhere. 

                                                   At The Tying Bench

Haven't been tying a lot of variety lately. Until leaving to come South for the winter, been pretty much working through the bunch of October Caddis that are the staple of autumn where I fish. There are a lot of #16 ginger sedges on the river from September into November, trout are keyed on them, & I came up with a decent spider this year for fishing over them, posted it below. The flatwing sculpin has been featured in SHJ before, but I'm revisiting it because it was a good fly this past season.   

Flatwing Sculpin

Hook: #4 Mustad 3366
Thread: UNI mono
Tailing: yellow bucktail
Flatwing: 2 brownish grizzly saddles
Topping: peacock herl
Collars: pheasant rump fronted with 3 brahma hen hackles 

Bucktail for Dollies

Hook: I like #2 Mustad 3366 for these. Fly should be about 4-5” long.
Thread: olive or clear mono
Gills: red tinsel wound on the hook shank
Topping: bucktail: white; yellow/chartreuse lateral; olive

Ginger Sedge

Hook: #14-#16
Thread: yellow silk
Hackle: honey dun hen
Body: light ginger seal twisted on a loop of fine silver wire

Dirty Blonde

Hook: #4 salmon-steelhead
Thread: tan UNI 8/0
Tailing: turkey tail swords topped with a pinch of light tan SST dub
Rear Collar: chukkar body spade
Rib: copper wire
Body: light tan SST dubbing
Palmer: light honey dun saddle
Collar: honey dun hen

Jenny Spinner from Pritt

                                               Anthropocene Memory

  Contemplating Tung Po’s poem & the peace is broken. The rumble of an approaching wave & a fighter jet making the daily border run vaults from behind the ridge hunting low. Tilted to a diving arc the jet claws down the smoky sky & roars down the swollen river course – pines on the bluffs turning red from the beetles. The river writhes bearing the loosened detritus of country ragged & worried at the edges -- traumatized landscapes & topsoil of the Pend Oreille & Flathead valleys, the wracked & splayed medusas of upended roots carried on the spate’s silver tipped shoulders. A fallen tamarack. A drowned mouse. An emptied & crushed beer can & a spent condom. The severed jawbone of a slaughtered wolf inchingover bottom stones. Secret poison & the quicksilver dream of a tiny mayfly – the stained river a canticle of heartbreak whispers hinting shadows passing like the memory of fish – like the muscle memory of arms & hands. Resurrection lays hidden asleep beneath the shifting silt awaiting a word that cannot be written or spoken. Everything passes. And who resists the ambiguous torrent even knowing? Sidestepping a dreadful dream, careful to conceal my executioner heart,
repeating a gesture, I lift the rod & hurl an offering to the dazzling void.

Summer Memory ~ Watercolor by Doris Loiseau



The latest issue of Swing The Fly magazine is just out. STF speaks straight from the authentic core of our game. Simply the best angling magazine out there. Click on the pic in the upper RH column to check it out. 

Special thanks to you ladies & gentlemen who’ve generously donated or contributed to SHJ over this past year. Your support makes this bit of art possible. What a joy it would be to fish with each of you. Wishing you health & all the best through the holidays & the upcoming new year.   ~Steve

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Soft~Hackle Journal September / October 2019

Autumn River ~ Doris Loiseau


September is the month of the ambiguous hero. Transient. Melancholic. At the beginning of the month Autumn sneaks up in the cool of the night & lingers into the chilly morning until the conquering sun of high summer tops the ridge. Yet even the sun, still winning at midday, can’t defeat the ever tilting parallax. The hubcap bright heat of summer inevitably gives way to slanting rose light & ripened pumpkins, & the hatchless dog days of August slowly give way to Fall insect hatches, October caddis, binge-feeding trout fattening for winter.  

The months pass too swiftly & seem to accelerate with each year. You hear it said that “time is money” but I don’t think so. Like money, there’s just never enough time. Funny thing: time spends quicker, yet can buy more than money.

And all the money in the world can’t buy a single minute.

You may know that Peter Fonda passed away in August. SHJ reader & friend, John Tobin, shares a personal recollection of crossing paths.



A Recollection of Peter Fonda

At the news of the death of Peter Fonda I was reminded of once having greeted this “Easy Rider” and avid fly fisher.  It was in the early morning of a summer day in 1981 or ’82 on an overlook above Paradise Valley, near Livingston, Montana.  My friend Randy and I had just departed our tent trailer at Pine Creek campground high in the Absaroka Range, on our way down for a day’s fishing the coveted, private water of Nelson’s Spring Creek.   As was our habit on the first day of this annual event, we stopped at a little overlook 500 feet above the valley.  There lay the expanse of ranch and field and forest, transected by the north flowing Yellowstone River, bathed in morning light.  Then, tranquility was suddenly broken when half a dozen bikers came roaring up the slope and pulled in.  Out of courtesy, or maybe awe, they shut down their hogs.  I glanced out of my open window to see, parked next to me, Peter Fonda, astride not the film’s iconic “Captain America” chopper, but a respectable Harley.  He was unmistakable: hatless, windswept hair, aviator shades. 

I called out to him, a little showy, “Hey Peter, how’s fishing been?  We have rods on Nelson’s today!”  

Randy rolled his eyes.

Peter turned to us with his unmistakable, trademark grin and nodded politely. 

Then we continued on our way. 

I learned later from Helen Nelson that Fonda had a ranch close by, on Suce Creek road, and sometimes fished their creek when he could get a rod. It seems now it could not have been a better instance of life imitating art than if Jack Nicholson had been riding pillion on Fonda’s bike that morning.

John Tobin

                                                            The Confluence

     Comes a time we travel to meet new rivers and the confluences of rivers, and the compelling mystery of the journey and that first meeting is what excites us the most. 

     Arrived at the smaller river, about a mile above its confluence with the big river, Reverend James and I stand surveying the flow unskeining down over smoothed glacial till. Late autumn and the rivers are low. Still, there is a lot of water, the major portion drained from the northern West Slope passes by us. The river is about one hundred yards across at its widest, maybe six feet deep in places. For the most part it is a three to five foot deep glide terminating in an intriguing set of riffles just above the confluence. The entire mile down to the confluence looks fishable. The glide is slow in places, a steelheader might pass some of it up, but this is trout water. Trout live here and are eating, not single-mindedly passing through to some upstream spawning destination, so they might be anywhere.

     Even the slowest water down the glide appears to have enough velocity to swing our gear. We’ve come with light Spey rods, rigged with short sink-tips and 8-foot leaders. The leader is longer than most steelheaders like, but this is trouting, the longer leader gets more takes and also helps prevent the sink tip from dragging the fly into the bottom in shallower water. Our flies aren’t weighted. And if the water’s too slow to swing, we’ll fish through anyway – cast and strip.            

     An eagle drifts across the long sky, head tilting. The river basin is wide and rimmed with mountain peaks holding a skiff of fresh snow. It’s early and the day is already warming, the mountains releasing their night gathered clouds. Down the bank I note a few adult October Caddis crawling among the rocks. Lots of empty nymph shucks on the river stones. Good sign. We were hoping there’d be October Caddis.

     We start beneath a high bridge where the river breaks from a deep, slow pool in a narrow passage and opens, the elevation suddenly dropping to hurry the flow to a short riffle section. Under the bridge a rock formation rises midstream to split the riffle. The deep water slot is on the near side of the rock and it is too deep to wade so the enticing water on the far side can’t be reached.

     James is ready. I’m not ready yet. Selecting an October Caddis wetfly from my box, I nod toward the slot, unleashing James. He ghosts toward a position while considering the flow. Reverend James fishes with the intensity of a hound yet moves like a heron. He is observant, staying back from the stream until settling on a post, then quietly slipping in where he can best cover the run while remaining unobtrusive.

     I decide to fish the water below James, where the riffle thickens into the long glide extending downriver. I’m not to the spot yet and hear the startled scraw of a fully activated click-pawl and turn to observe James’ rod bent deep to the grip. It’s a good fish. I stop to watch him fight it. At the other end of the line, the trout chooses the ‘flight’ option, and I think it odd that we say the fish is ‘fighting’, as if mute fish deliberately seek to challenge and beat us at this contrived game wherein we win no matter what and can only beat ourselves. The trout is only trying to get away, it rips upstream and then across above the midstream rock island, and then turns and heads downstream again – horse-shoeing James’ line around the rock – and comes unbuttoned. It happens quick.

     James smiles and shakes his head, fishes a thin cigar from his pocket. “See that? Schooled me,” he says.

     “Yup. Saw it. ‘At one was an evil-doer.”

     James, suspecting there’s another fish in the slot, sits on a rock and smokes the cigar while resting it.

     I come away empty on the tail-out and start working down the glide. Trout could be anywhere in this so I want to cover it thoroughly. Working down, I take three steps between each casting position. The bank is fairly open, gravel, smooth footing. I make a short cast then place my steps, giving the fly an extra moment to sink while I move down to finish the swing at the new position. There, I make another short cast and fish it out, then make a long cast, then another short cast which I fish while slipping down to the next position.   

     A whoop from under the bridge signals James is on again. The trout is neither as big or canny as the first one he hooked. He brings it to net. A nice redband just the same. Some places it might be considered a wall-hanger but here it is average. James leaves it in the water and releases it quickly.  

     I stick to the routine; the #4 Spey covers the water. We’re trouting, so James and I are both using 15’ heads backed with 30 pound test, low-memory mono shooting line. We like mono for trout, as it allows maximum distance with the lighter, short heads, and a relatively low-cost spool supplies a lot of shooting line. The 15’ heads will carry tips up to 15’ in length. My line is rigged with a 5’ fast-sinking poly leader, and James is fishing a 10’ poly leader with a slower sink rate. The 15’ heads with interchangeable tips give us a 20’ to 30’ casting line, depending on the length of tip used. The day is warming but the low sun still weak, the slanted autumn light won’t penetrate the river to create a mid-day doldrum as in summer. I step and cast, taking in the day.      

     A steelheader might angle the cast more downstream but, old school, I quarter casts to place the fly slightly upstream. I’m not big on mending a lot. Generally one mend at the completion of a cast, if I need to. I just want to get in contact with the fly. Whatever it takes. In faster water, if necessary, a single upstream mend; slow water, a downstream mend to speed the fly up. Quartering across or upstream allows the fly to sink and present dead-drift for a ways before accelerating down into the swing phase of the cast. Trout will often take during the initial dead-drift phase of the quartered upstream cast. If the fish indicate they are liking it dead-drift, I’ll angle my casts more upstream to achieve a longer drift, as in the classic wetfly presentation.  The water here has some velocity and depth. The fly drifts downstream of my position, picking up speed dropping down the current. I let line slip through the fingers of my rod hand, six inches, then stop, six inches, stop, slowing the fly’s drift some while activating the fly. Trout like it jiggling. At the end of the swing the fly is still in likely water, so I fish the dangle, lifting the rod, then lowering it. I do that a few times, raising the fly then letting it drop back, then holding the rod tip close to the water and sweeping it slowly side to side, swimming the fly back and forth – and doing that brings a take and I pull the hook into a good fish.

     James, done with the slot under the bridge, hound-dogging down the bank, arrives to net the trout for me. We admire it laid out like a newborn in the net bag. It’s a boy. A buck redband well over 20 inches. Big kype on him, leopard-spotted and colored-up, three inch wide stripes down its flanks vermillion as the final blood meridian of day. I slip the hook from its jaw, it gathers strength, rights itself and fins away. We watch the water absorb its light and it is gone.

     “What time is it?” I ask.

     Reverend James looks at me, surprised, secretly amused, says: “It’s hustle time.” With that he turns and heads to a position about a cast downstream of me, as is our custom when swinging a long run together. Catch a fish, the other guy leapfrogs to the lead position. James is thorough and as fishy as they come. Fishing behind him is pretty much just exercise. I’m not sweating it. Entertaining a selfish motive, I’m counting on James scoring a fish before we get down to that gravy riffle section just above the confluence, putting me in position to be first at the riffle. Selfish? Nah. Given the chance, James would have no problem getting the first shot at that riffle. It’s new water to us and we’re already on the boards, so we’re charged and stoked.          

     Basking in the afterglow of my recent battle with Mr. Buck, I take a seat on a nearby boulder, have a drink of water and roll a smoke while watching Reverend James work down the slowest portion of the run. He is methodical, solemnly self-possessed, each cast placed as a gesture of offering. I amuse myself carrying on an imaginary conversation with the trout: Be careful. Rev James is not offering absolution. He’s tricky.  There’s a hook inside that imitation food item he wants you to eat. The only salvation in this comes when he’s done with you, and that’s no sure thing. There’s always the possibility you will become the chosen one and he will hit you over the head with a rock, drop you into his pack, then grill you over hot coals later. Last supper.

     The trout aren’t listening and James receives a grab, yet fails to set iron. He turns in my direction and nods toward the water letting me know he had a grab, then makes a few more casts before stepping along.

     James is at the slowest portion of the run now, not far above the enticing riffle section. He’s mending downstream with each cast, creating a downstream line belly to gather flow and swing the fly. But there’s not enough velocity to the flow and he hangs the bottom. He jiggles the fly free then places another cast – this time opting not to swing, instead, after placing the cast, mending to get direct contact with the fly, letting it sink for a five-count, then retrieving with quick, short strips. A few strips and James’ October Caddis softie gets nailed and he is on. The fish stays deep and puts up a bulldogging fight. I arrive on time to net it, a 17 inch brook trout in full autumn color. We take pictures of the brookie, then I get along down the bank. I don’t feel guilty leaving James the rest of the slow section. Maybe he’ll catch another char. We love char, especially the larger models.

     The riffle, with good fish-holding depth, proves as good as it looks. Barely into it, I take a nice redband. Plenty of water left for Reverend James, who leapfrogs ahead and takes another good redband farther down the riffle.

     We can go no further down the smaller river, so we stop for a smoke. The fishing is good, we both agree.                           

     We consider the spine of low hills entrained in reclining-woman profile between us and the big river. The riffle section relaxes to a broad, deep pool of conflicted currents at the confluence of the two rivers. The headland abruptly breaks to a cliff dropping into the deep water of the confluence, barring passage down the bank from our side of the river. It’s well past noon. Could be a mile hike over that hill to the big river. Might be farther. We don’t know. It’s new country to us, and the main vein waiting beyond that hill is a mystery newly minted and fresh. We check the position of the sun. Scan the sky for weather. A raven calls from the woods somewhere on the hill, between us and the big river. The agreement is tacit, we hitch our packs and pass over the river stones, moving swiftly toward the raven’s call.  


                                 American Wetfly Masters ~ James Fish

James Fish is one of a handful of talented upper Columbia locals. His name says it all, James is a fishy dude (with impeccable tastes in literature & music). He is a master carpenter & builder of fine cabinetry, as well as an accomplished fly tyer. James & I share a love of trout spey & the music of Van Morrison. Last time we fished I picked his box, & he kindly agreed to share his patterns with SHJ. The UC begs a downstream swing approach & we see that reflected in James’s designs, particularly the long-shanked hooks he prefers on patterns meant to be swung (short-biters beware).

Olive Sedge Emerger ~ James Fish

Green Butt Partridge & Peacock ~ James Fish

October Caddis ~ James Fish

Spotted Sedge ~ James Fish

                                                     The Reel News

Facing the inevitable & changing gears.

This article is a bit cheeky but this technology should be taken seriously. This simple, portable device might make it possible to move sea-runs & smolts over the dams.

If you’re reading this, then you probably understand the importance of ‘story’.

October Caddis Pupa

                                                    October Caddis

     For those of us afflicted with melancholus habitus, autumn is the most exquisitely melancholic season of the year. Life has emerged from summer’s oven & cooled to a glorious apple cake that will, swiftly, become a sweet memory in winter.

     Gary LaFontaine wrote that October caddis (Dicosmocus) are the most important ‘big fish’ hatch of the West, & I agree. True, this opinion isn’t shared by everybody. Based on my own experience, reasons for a negative review may have arisen from having spent too much time presenting “big, bushy” dry flies without great success. Or, perhaps, some confusion about how October caddis actually look & act at emergence, & how important that stage really is. Once we’re able to envision how the stage trout want looks & moves, we’re able to abstract a killing simulation, the keying characteristics of the natural enhanced, accentuated, or exaggerated, to produce movement, obfuscation & light.      

     Adults are strong flyers, seldom stranded on the water during the early hatch season. On my home water, October caddis emerge early-September through October, mid-day to dark. Dryflies tend to work best morning & dusk, & later in the season when a lot of adults have accumulated & colder weather knocks them down. That’s not to say dismiss any notion of fishing dries except during those times I say. Good to try a dryfly on them. Keep ‘em honest. Yet, in my own experience, most of the time, wet imitations produce better.

     October caddis are adaptable, able to utilize two emergence strategies depending on conditions which might include: stream depth, bottom composition, water & air temperatures. Cased larvae accumulate near the edge of the river in July, where they seal off the case until pupae are ready to emerge. Yet, if temps are too warm in the shallows, larvae will accumulate in deeper water, as they did in my home water in 2015. That summer, places where they usually are, I saw none, & feared there’d be no hatch. Then, in early September, on schedule, they appeared, busting from the river over deeper water.

     The naked pupae are active clamberers & strong swimmers (I suspect the swimming habit gets a lot of them in trouble). Many crawl clear of the flow to complete a final molt to adult on shoreline rocks & vegetation, but also a number emerging from the stream. Like I said, they are adaptable. Air. Water. It’s all the same to OC, whichever is more favorable when the alarm goes off. On my home water in 2015, with record high air temps well into September, October caddis utilized the latter strategy, emerging from the stream, & I found few empty shucks on streamside rocks to indicate the usual number had employed the crawl-out mode.

     As pupae mature the wing buds expand & unfurl until, at maturity, they are an outstanding feature of the nymph, about half the size of the full wing. On final molt the adult wings fully emerge, whether at streamside or on the bottom of the stream. Emergers are strong swimmers & the waxy, water-repellant wings aid in sailing them to the surface, so winged patterns are effective when October caddis are present.

October Caddis

October Caddis Speyed UC Hen

October Reach

                                                   The Tying Bench

As October Caddis is the main dish in Fall where I live, I'm always experimenting with patterns for meeting them. I tie them both winged & wingless. Cold weather knocks a lot of the adults down onto the water, & that's when the winged patts get the nod. Pupae & adults exhibit similar coloration over the abdomen. Adults are pumpkin-orange when newly emerged, hardening to rust-orange. I use the same basic dubbing mixture for all of these: a mix of rust-brown rabbit, burnt-orange & orange SST dubbing. Less rabbit will give a more orange tone. Dark squirrel tail makes a good wing on the wets. Moose & deer hair winging on the floaters. Hackles include natural & dyed guinea, brahma hen, dyed orange hen, & gadwall. Antennae are turkey tail swords.


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