Steelhead Schools, Caddis Hatches

Steelhead Schools, Caddis Hatches, Caddis Book

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Steelhead Schools
Caddis Hatches
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An Instructor's View of Steelhead Schools 
Brian Silvey helps Jim Walker land a steelhead.

You can never know too much about any subject.  Going to a school and obtaining the guidance of skill instructors is accepted as the quickest, most efficient way to learn.  Learning comes in measured stages for most people.  Rarely is complete knowledge of any technical subject obtainable in only one day.  This progression from lower to upper grade status is obtainable only if the knowledge of the lower grade is well

learned.  For instance catching a steelhead with a fly rod is only "achievable" if the angler has learned how to cast with a fly rod.  An student who has taken the time to learn how to cast "well" with a fly rod can reach more steelhead than one who hasn't.  This fact was brought home during our 02/13/04 Winter Steelhead School which included (6) students.  The three students who brought steelhead to their flies during this school had attended previous schools with us.  Jim Stone got a good bight at 

Brian & Jim
Ron Lauzon & crew.

our first stop.  He had attended a Deschutes Steelhead School with us two years ago.  Jim Walker hooked (4) steelhead during the school and Peter Spooner hooked one.  Spooner landed his steelhead and Walker landed two.  Both of these fine anglers had taken our Spey Casting School in January.  During the late afternoon Instructors Mark Bachmann and Brian Silvey had their boats parked across the river from each other.  Jim Walker who was riding with Brian hooked an nice bright steelhead and 

everyone was watching and cheering him on. Then Pete, who was riding with Mark hooked one that was just as bright.  Both fish were released with help from the guides.  It was a fitting graduation ceremony for both angling students.  We provide the instruction.  The steelhead issue the diplomas. 

Pete Spooner & Jim Walker hooked up on oposite sides of the river.

During this day we didn't get one piece of water that hadn't already been bait fished shortly before we got to it.  There were about eight other boats on the water ahead of us including two very talented gear guides.  We got strikes fishing behind them.  It was February, Friday the thirteenth.  Who knows whether the strikes were do to luck or skill.  We instructors will take victory any way it comes.  We had a very dedicated group of students. Also there were good numbers of fresh fish in our stretch of river.  However, there was hard wind the early part of the day.  We fished through it and were a stronger team because of it.  Most of the fish were hooked during the wind.  It was a fun day.  I would do it again in a minute.   I have a feeling that Brian & Ron feel the same.  MB

February 29, 2004, Sunday, 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Fly Tier's Round Table
"Understanding Caddis Hatches"

Caddis are some of the most prolific insect families in our western streams.  Understanding the life cycle of the caddis can help you catch trout nearly year around.  The importance of larvae, pupae and adults will be explored.  Favorite larva, pupa and adults will be tied & discussed.

The programs and instructions are free.  
So are the coffee and snacks.
Bring snacks to share if you want to.
Bring your own tools, and materials and tie along.  Beginners are welcome.
Group Leader: Mark Bachmann joined by local trout enthusiasts.


Caddis are abundant in most of the trout waters in the Northwest.  In rivers like the Deschutes, caddis larva and pupa can number in the thousands per square yard of river bed.  In many rivers they are the most consumed food item during the mid-summer months. Caddis flies are of the insect order Trichoptera, which means hair wing. All caddis have fuzzy wings. Like butterflies and moths; caddis go through a true metamorphosis.  They have a larval, pupa and adult stage.  All stages are vulnerable and are eaten by trout.  Essentially a caddis larva fills the role of a caterpillar.  It is this juvenile stage which does the feeding and growing.  In many ways caddis larvae do resemble caterpillars.  They have large heads with well developed mandibles, cylindrical bodies and short powerful legs.  However unlike caterpillars, many caddis species build houses from  gravel or vegetable matter.  Some of these houses are stationary, many are mobile.  Most species of caddis larvae that build houses are grazers that scrape algae from the rocks for food. Some species of predacious caddis larvae roam unencumbered in the substrate.  They eat other smaller smaller aquatic insect juveniles. Some species build funnel shaped webs that are strung between the rocks on the river bed.  The widest part of the funnel faces upstream with the larva living in the down-stream neck of the funnel.  Its head is always pointed upstream into the current.  Food items get caught in the bell of the funnel and the larva can feed at leisure.   By utilizing this web strategy, they are very much like spiders. Some of these net spinning species are herbivorous others are predacious.  

  Caddis larva come in a wide range of sizes and colors. The ones that build housed from solid matter such as stones or woody debris are often brightly colored.  They may even be shades of bright yellow or pink.  Many species of larvae are green.  Some are nearly fluorescent green.  Others are olive tones.  Green tones are prevalent both in species that do and those that don't build houses.  Most species that do not build armored houses are camouflaged with earth tones.  Most of these larvae are olive or brown to tan tones.

  Laval populations of many species go through predictable “behavioral drift” cycles where they are consumed by trout and white fish in great numbers.  Several times while growing up, each house building larva will outgrow it's house, discard it and drift free while searching for a site and materials to build a new larger one.  While in the house hunting/building mode, they are exposed to the elements.  Numerous larvae might outgrow their houses at nearly the same time and be drifting down along the river bed enmass.  You can imagine that a hail of brightly colored juicy caddis larvae might have a similar effect on a population of trout as throwing a hand full of popcorn to a flock of pigeons.  Species that build webs usually use a slightly different strategy for finding new homes.  Since the are able to build a strand of silk, they often rappel themselves down stream like climbers coming down a cliff face or a spider dropping from the ceiling.  In fast currents they can become like kites on the end of a string.  During these migrations many are exposed to feeding fish.

  When each larva has reached maximum maturity it crawls into a protected niche and constructs a cocoon.  Metamorphosis starts to change the larva into an adult insect.  It develops wings, feelers, long legs and sex organs.  This complicated transformation can take weeks.   During this period the insect is unavailable as trout food except during catastrophic drifts caused by floods, wading anglers, etc.

   When the metamorphosis is complete, the newly formed adult insect chews an exit hole in one end of the cocoon and crawls out.  It is now an air breathing organism surrounded by water.  To protect it, the insect is partially covered by a membrane which contains air.  Like most terrestrial insects, caddis breath through tiny holes in the sides of their abdomens.  The air retaining membrane covers the whole body, but is most prominent in the anterior region.  This  air bubble is highly visible to predator fish.  It is often the most distinguishing feature which fish key on.

  Since air is a gas, it may be compressed or expanded.  In deeper flows the pupal membrane is compressed close to the body by water pressure.  As the insect nears the surface, this membrane will expand with the decreasing water pressure. 

  Some species of caddis drift for long distances within inches of the bottom until they achieve the strength and buoyancy to rise to the surface.  During the early stages of the hatch, patterns like the Nori Caddis Pupa or Bead Head Caddis Pupa are most effective when fished close to the bottom. As the hatch progresses and more insects are rising to the surface a LaFontaine Sparkle Pupa can become more effective.

   Most caddis hatch by fighting their way through the surface film.  The pupal shuck bursts as it comes in contact with the decreased pressure of air above the surface of the water.  A hole opens in the top of the pupal shuck and the adult insect crawls onto the surface of the water.  At this point some species ride the surface of the water for a short time and then fly off.  However, according to my observations most small caddis species which hatch from the Deschutes don’t fly, they walk across the surface of the water to the bank.  While traveling to the beach they are vulnerable to the trout which often rise and take these insects very quietly.  Fishing a LaFontaine Emergent Sparkle Pupa dead drift, in the surface film with only the wing greased can be very effective.  Also an Elk Hair Caddis can bring strikes.

   Some caddis don’t hatch from the water but prefer to swim to the shore to hatch.  They crawl out of the water with their pupal shuck intact.  A prime example of this activity is the large October Caddis Dicosmoecus.  With this type of hatch dry adult patterns or only useful when the females return to the water to lay eggs.

   Egg laying flights can result in some great trout feeding activity.  There are three major styles of caddis egg laying; dipping, broadcasting and diving.     Dipping caddis fly an erratic path over the water and dip the tip of their abdomens to the surface and deposit one or several eggs at a time.  This flight is unpredictable and hard for trout to time.  Although this type of egg laying activity is easy for the angler to see it usually draws little attention from the trout.  

   Broadcasting can result in huge densely packed flights of caddis flying within an inch of the water, laying eggs as they fly upstream.  Their wings are beating so fast that they look like little balls of fluff suspended above the water.  A Bivisible fly resting lightly on the water and drawn gently up stream can draw savage strikes.  With this technique, it is always preferable to cast to rising fish.  Some species of caddis dive through the surface of the water, swim to the bottom and lay their eggs on the substrate.  These caddis accumulate air bubbles on their wings and body upon entering the water.  This gives them a silvery sheen.  Patterns tied to represent diving caddis should be dressed with Antron or other air collecting material.  The Bead Head Caddis pupa fished on the swing can be deadly during these times.

   After laying their eggs, caddis usually die quickly.  Many fall to the water to collect in back eddies where trout often feed on them between hatches.  Patterns such as the Still Caddis and Parachute Caddis are indispensable at these times.

   When fishing caddis hatches, as with all fly fishing,  careful observation is always your best weapon.  Caddis Case Jewelry

Gary LaFontaine
Subject Category: Angler's Entomology & Fish Identification
Binding Type: Hardcover
Retail Price: $40.00
ISBN: 0-941130-98-3
Ten years' study produced this intense, in-depth look at one of the trout's major foods. LaFontaine introduces tested patterns and details strategies on how to best fish larvae, pupae and adult flies. Color & B/w photos; 8x11 inches, 336 pgs.
Item Title Price To Top


Book, CADDISFLIES, by Gary LaFontaine $40.00 -->SALE ENDED
0-941130-98-3B Book, CADDISFLIES, by Gary LaFontaine with any purchase over  $100. That is 20% OFF plus FREE SHIPPING. $32.00 -->SALE ENDED

Loop Two-Hand Fly Rods

Fly fishing is a world wide sport and has a world wide community.  Loop fly rods are designed and marketed from Sweden.  Sweden and surrounding Scandinavia has long been a destination for Atlantic Salmon anglers and has a deep tradition of two-hand fly rod casting and fishing.  Loop rods using Swedish engineering are constructed in South Korea which is emerging as one of the great graphite technology centers of the world.  Loop two-hand rods have found much favor with steelhead anglers in the Pacific Northwest.  These rods cast very well under a wide range of angling conditions and with a wide range of fly line designs.  We think that a couple of models are especially useful on our local rivers (more on that later).   The ones we've tried "fish" well. 

Loop Grey Line Two-Hand Fly Rods

Fast Action
Rod designer Göran Andersson has broken new ground again with the innovative Loop Grey Line Series. These rods have a deep, progressive action while at the same time delivering lightning-fast recovery.
The Grey Line combines reserve power for every imaginable long-cast situation with the extremely important fingertip sensitivity required for close in and delicate work. These rods are simply apart from all others. To quote Göran: "These are rods that follow thought".  Comes with two tips
Item Description Price To Top
LGR 9130-4 Loop Grey Line Spey Rod, 13' for 9-10 line $900 -->SALE ENDED
LGR 10150-4 Loop Grey Line Spey Rod, 15' for 10-12 line $960 -->SALE ENDED

Loop Green Line Two-Hand Fly Rods
Fast Action
The “elite” rod. Light, but fast and powerful. Sensitivity and power are combined in a unique progressive action. Green Line's primary function is to adapt to all types of casts, to handle all possible levels of acceleration, while at the same time allowing for sensitive line-control.
Green Line facts: Deep green graphite finish. Supplied with two tip-sections. Snake guides and stripping guides with ceramic inserts.  Black metal reel seats. High-grade cork handles. Matching deep-green bag and rod case. Comes with two tips.
Item Description Price To Top
LGL 8124-4 Loop Green Line Spey Rod, 12' 4" for 8-9 line $580 -->SALE ENDED
LGL 9116-4 Loop Green Line Spey Rod, 11' 6" for 9 line $550 -->SALE ENDED
LGL 9132-4 Loop Green Line Spey Rod, 13' 2" for 9-10 line $600 -->SALE ENDED
LGL 9140-4 Loop Green Line Spey Rod, 14' for 9-10 line $620 -->SALE ENDED
LGL 10150-4 Loop Green Line Spey Rod, 15' for 10-11 line $630 -->SALE ENDED

Loop Yellow Line Two-Hand Fly Rods
Medium Action
The yellow line was developed partly based on the need for highly-visible rods to use in casting instruction and filming situations. However the taper turned out to be one of the sweetest that we have ever experienced. The color is just an extra bonus!
Yellow Line facts: Warm yellow finish. Snake guides and stripping guides with ceramic inserts. Line # 2-6: Birds-Eye wood reel seats with silver finish details. Line # 7-12: Black metal reel seats. High-grade cork handles. Matching deep yellow bag and rod case. 

Item Description Price To Top
LYL 8124-4 Loop Yellow Line Spey Rod, 12' 4" for 8-9 line $440 -->SALE ENDED
LYL 9132-4 Loop Yellow Line Spey Rod, 13' 2" for 9-10 line $450 -->SALE ENDED
LYL 9140-4 Loop Yellow Line Spey Rod, 14' for 9-10 line $460 -->SALE ENDED
LYL 10150-4 Loop Yellow Line Spey Rod, 15' for 10-11 line $460 -->SALE ENDED

Loop Blue Line Two-Hand Fly Rods
Medium-Fast Action
 Like all Loop rods, the Blue Line features a distinct progressive and continuous action from tip to bottom. This specific action ensures both soft and precise casting with perfect loop control and line speed.
The action is not the only distinctive feature; the new translucent deep blue color puts this rod in a class of its own. High performance at a favorable price.
Blue Line facts
: Deep blue graphite finish.  Snake guides and stripping guides with ceramic inserts. Matching deep blue bag and rod case. 

Item Description Price To Top
LBL 7116-4 Loop Blue Line Spey Rod, 11' 6" for 7 line $350 -->SALE ENDED
LBL 8124-4 Loop Blue Line Spey Rod, 12' 4" for 8-9 line $440 -->SALE ENDED
LBL 9132-4 Loop Blue Line Spey Rod, 13' 2" for 9-10 line $450 -->SALE ENDED
LBL 9140-4 Loop Blue Line Spey Rod, 14' for 9-10 line $460 -->SALE ENDED
LBL 10150-4 Loop Blue Line Spey Rod, 15' for 10-11 line $470 -->SALE ENDED

Loop Black Line Two-Hand Fly Rods
Medium Action
Don't let the favorable price fool you! The Black Line series features a distinct progressive and continuous action from tip to bottom. The Black Line accommodates all kinds of overhand and underhand casting, and may be one  the best-buys on the market today.
Bring it as the spare rod on your fishing trip and it could easily end up as your first choice. The Black Line has been praised highly in numerous reviews and tests and has become the favorite rod for many fishermen.
Black Line facts: Matte black finish. Black metal reel seat with specially designed fittings. Snake guides and stripping guides with ceramic inserts. Cloth bag.  Rod case not included,

Item Description Price To Top
LSL 9132-4 Loop Black Line Spey Rod, 12' 4" for 9-10 line $410 -->SALE ENDED
LSL 9140-4 Loop Black Line Spey Rod, 14' for 9-10 line $440 -->SALE ENDED

Spey Rod Super Store!
Pictured at right are 17 of the more than 40 models of spey rods that regularly revolve through our inventory.   We carry the best models from: Loop, CND, Flylogic, Redington, Sage, Scott
St. Croix
, Thomas & Thomas and Winston
What may be more interesting is, that we have cast nearly every model we stock and have caught steelhead on many of them.  Don't worry, it is a work of love.  This kind of study is the best thing about working in a fly shop.  Everyone likes toys to play with.  Don't you wish that you owned 24 different spey rods and could try four different lines 

...spey rods on the wall...

on each one....and didn't have to justify your excess to anyone?  The first thing you might realize is that there are a few differing opinions about actions sizes.  Our collection features models with classic slow actions to newest cutting edge fast action tapers.  These rods run from 11' to 16' 7" in length; from #5 to #10 weight.  The second thing you come to terms with, is there is no one single model that is the best for every situation.  You can find models that will fish long & short, dry & wet, winter & summer, but to a degree each model is specialized to a certain set of parameters.  Few anglers would choose a 15' #9 for summer fishing on the Deschutes over a 13' #7.  The 15' #9 would win over the lighter rod for tossing big tube flies in the dead of winter.  Slow, soft rods are a joy for playing fish and take little expertise to form serviceable casts, but often bog down in the wind.  Very fast rods build terrific line speed and throw sinking tip and large flies, but take focus and skill to cast well.  Probably in the end, medium size, medium weight, medium action rods fit the widest variety of angling situations and ultimately perform the best for the widest majority of casting styles.  What ever you like in spey rods, we are likely to have it.

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Your commentary is always welcome.  Drop us a line:

 The Fly Fishing Shop HOME. The Fly Fishing Shop, Welches, OR

1(800) 266-3971

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Fish long & prosper
Mark & Patty


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