Al Troth’s elk hair caddis takes some beating, yet this interpretation comes pretty close in my eyes. When first dubbed, the sparkling body appears a little too intense and brash. However, a palmered hackle helps tone this down to leave a soft glint. You can secure the body hackle using a fine wire rib, yet a length of Sheer 14/0 doubled over and spun tight makes a neat job. The hackling serves not only as extra buoyancy, but creates a fair bit of disturbance when retrieved. Just the job for attracting trout in near darkness.
Ultimately though, floatation comes from an overwing of elk hair fibres. There’s much debate as to whether bull or cow elk should be used and which part of the body this should be taken from? Some say, cow elk is best for general use with elk hock being popular on smaller patterns. I’ve no complaints with bull elk taken from the flank that doesn’t flare, but splays out just enough to create an attractive profile. Of course the flecked colouration of some hair copies a natural’s wing to the letter. That said, my preference is a natural straw colour or bleached elk hair, which stands out well in the fading light.
An underwing of CdC fibres softens the edges so to speak, giving your fly a busy look, especially when viewed from beneath. Leaving butt ends of elk hair pointing forward over the hook eye might be in keeping with the original, but this often causes problems when trying to thread nylon through the eye, particularly in poor light and when trout are crashing all around you! Instead, try clipping them short, before folding back and taking a few thread wraps through them to form a neat, tapered head.
Thread: Orange 14/0 Sheer
Rib: Tying thread
Body: Olive ice-dub
Hackle: Cream cock-palmered
Wing: Elk hair over CdC fibres