Insights into Caddis Emergences

Video: A Caddis Emergence

For many anglers, caddis emergences are difficult to recognize and fish successfully. But if we know what to look for, the rivers and fish provide the all the clues we need to succeed. The strongest indication that fish are feeding on emerging caddis is the presence of rising fish with no insects apparent on the water. Emerging caddis simply do not ride the water like mayflies; they hatch and immediately leave the water, making their emergences extremely challenging to detect. Occasional splashy rises mixed in among quiet rises is another clue. A third indication of caddis emerging are small fish occasionally jumping clear of the water (a consequence of their overly energetic pursuit of the actively swimming caddis pupae). In the video attached above, you can see the first and second clues at work. Lots of rising fish, no flies on the surface, splashy rises mixed in with quiet rises. There were no small fish in this group of risers, so none will be seen jumping here.

The caddis responsible for this particular rise are Helicopsyche borealis, a #20-22 caddis with grayish/black wings and amber bodies. They inhabit a number of rivers in the Yellowstone area. Despite their tiny size, trout are extremely fond of eating them during good emergences (and also later when the adults are egglaying). Because Helicopsyche emerge at roughly the same time of the season as Pale Morning Dun mayflies, the activity these caddis generate is often confused with Pale Morning Dun emergences. But there are no mayflies floating down the river here, and none to be seen flying in the air. Astute anglers recognize this and immediately suspect a caddis emergence. It’s then a question of confirming an emergence and determining whichcaddis species might be responsible. Here, the answers lie in prior research on what insects to expect on a given river, combined with careful observation of the water and bankside vegetation. Doing these things sets you up for some great fishing.

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