Caddisflies are a very common trout food source. Their life cycle progresses from Larvae → Pupa → Adult
Most caddis larvae live alongside mayfly nymphs, under rocks and other debris at the bottom of rivers and streams. Caddis larvae are unique in that they build protective cases around themselves out of rocks, twigs, and vegetation. Examining the content of a trout's stomach, it would not be uncommon to find sticks and gravel suggesting the fish consumed case-enclosed caddis larvae.
Similar to midges, caddis larvae build a cocoon and change shape before making their journey to the water's surface.
Once they reach the surface, caddisflies will flutter, hop, and even skid across the water before flying to the bank. For one to three months, they chill stream-side eating, drinking, and growing. When the time is right, huge swarms of adult caddis will form. While bouncing across the water, flies will mate, drop their eggs, and then die.
How do I recognize caddisflies?
1. The dead giveaway is folded tent-like wings ⛺️
2. Check for a tail (they don't have any)
3. Long antennae ✅
Now let's talk fly imitation:
Size & Color
Most caddis are moderate in size, ranging from 12 to 18. They are usually drab (dull light brown) in color with tan, gray, olive, and dark brown highlights (see pictures below).
Sub-surface or dry fly?
As mentioned previously, caddis adults are pretty sporadic when emerging and laying eggs. Whereas trout usually just sip mayflies off the surface, they are a little more aggressive as caddis adults skid and hop across the water. If you see this happening or any mating swarms, throw on a dry fly.
If you don't see much action on the surface, but notice a lot of adult caddis on the banks or have them crawling on you after walking through stream-side brush, try some sub-surface larvae or pupa patterns.
Check out some of our favorite imitations below.
We hope you found this helpful. If you have any specific follow up questions feel free to ask them through our "Contact Us" page. We are always happy to help.
Click below to check out the next major bug type—Stoneflies!