During a fishing outing on the Frying Pan River on September 15, 2015, I encountered some small caddis that provoked sporadic rises. As I did not carry size eighteen caddis imitations in my front pack, I was frustrated in my attempts to dupe the wily inhabitants of the tailwater below Reudi Reservoir. While on the river I resolved to tie some size 18 deer hair caddis during the off season in case I faced a similar situation in the future. Over the last couple weeks I honored my pledge, and I tied twenty-three with various body colors. I also experimented with a tan deer hair wing and a darker gray wing. I recall that the caddis fluttering above the river were tan, but I never caught any so that I could inspect the body color or wing color more closely.
The deer hair caddis has been a mainstay for me since my earliest days of flyfishing in Pennsylvania. I tie elk hair caddis as well, but I possess a large array of natural deer hair patches that display many colors. I feel that these subtle shades imitate the natural caddis found along the streams. I also prefer a very sparse tie in the smaller sizes such as 16, and for this reason I applied the same style to my size 18 additions. If I want a high riding fluttering appearance, I generally opt for a stimulator, as it features the palmered hackle over the abdomen. When the trout are locked into smaller sizes along the edge of the river, and they reject the fully hackled stimulator, I knot a sparse deer hair caddis to my line, and in many instances it works quite well.
The sparse tie consists of only three materials besides the hook and thread. First I dub a body, and next I tie in a deer hair wing. The last step is to attach a neck hackle of the appropriate size, and then complete with three or four turns and whip finish. The hardest part of this fly is preventing the deer hair wing from rolling around the hook shank To avoid this pitfall, I make sure to have a solid thread base in front of the abdomen. In addition I like to add a dab of head cement to the thread base. Pinch an appropriate sized bundle of deer hair at the tie down point in front of the abdomen, and make one loose wrap followed by a second wrap. Once the second wrap is in place slowly cinch the thread down with strong pressure. Maintain a firm grip on the hair bundle and made two or three tight wraps forward. Do not worry about trapping some stray hairs between these wraps as it only serves to secure the deer hair, and the stray fibers will be removed by an angled cut.
I produced twenty plus size 18 deer hair caddis, and hopefully this will allow me to avoid the situation that frustrated me on September 15 on the Frying Pan River. Spring cannot come soon enough.