Skating Caddis


Ever have an experience on the water where fish were going bonkers on caddis adults and you were unable to catch them? I’m not talking about the occasional riser that won’t eat. I’m talking about when it seems like the fish are eating almost every caddis that goes by, but they will not eat your dry. I’m sure you may have thought to yourself, “Maybe I do not have the right fly?”. That could be true, but a better question to ask yourself would probably be, “Maybe I’m not fishing this fly right?”.

As anglers we have come accustomed to fishing our flies “dead drifted”, especially with dry flies. With caddis, a long drift with absolutely no drag is not always the desired method. I know it seems wrong, but when it comes to caddis sometimes the fish want the fly to move. But why? As adults, Caddis come back to the surface of the water to lay eggs before they die. If they are dead, and therefore “dead drifting”, they have already dropped their egg sack. A caddis with it’s egg sack still intact offers more nutrients than a dead drifting caddis that has already laid eggs (and is probably a lot more fun for a trout to eat as well). For this reason, an “egg laying” caddis that is still alive would be a more desirable meal for a trout.

An “egg laying” caddis does not sit still on the water, it flutters it’s wings and slides around on the surface of the water. I have been on the water many times during this situation that I could not get a fish to eat my caddis dry, UNLESS I moved it. The concept of moving your dry on the surface of the water is often referred to as “skating”. In order to catch fish while skating a dry, I prefer to skate the dry across the water in the area in front of the fish. First, make a cast across the stream. Second, wiggle the tip of the rod side-to-side while pulling the fly back towards yourself across the surface of the water. Third, let the fly pause for a second or two and strip in loose line to maintain tension before skating the fly again. I like to skate the fly for a couple feet, let the fly sit and drift for second, and then skate the fly another couple feet. Not only is this method a very exciting and fun way to catch fish on the surface, it can be an instrumental part in catching fish during a caddis hatch. Tight lines!

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