By Nick Simonson
The art of fly tying is creating a pattern that can easily simulate, or combines the best parts of, a number of potential prey items in the wild. With over 14,000 species of caddisflies worldwide, good general imitators combine a number of their characteristics that fish key in on. Whether it’s the segmented body, the hairs on their legs, the nets they use for catching things or the cases they build their homes out of, roughly representing a bunch of these triggers makes for a great fly recipe, and the Larva Lace caddis nymph is one such pattern.
Representing all the best parts of these aquatic stages of the insect’s life cycle, this pattern puts together the bugginess and the segmented nature of a caddis out of its protective home or shell, and the fuzziness of those web-spinners or hairier versions, while still incorporating a feel of those protective cases which some species build. Ultimately, the Larva Lace caddis provides the best of all worlds, and incorporates feathers from our favorite upland bird to round it all out.
Hook: Size 10-14 Curved Nymph
Thread: 6/0 Rust
Bead: 1/8” Brass
Abdomen: Larva Lace Medium
Thorax: Coarse Sparkle Dub
Collar: Green-Tip Pheasant Back Feather
Start the pattern by threading a brass bead on the curved nymph hook, place it in the vise and start the thread (1). From a point about one bead-length back from the bead, tie in a strand of Larva Lace tubing all the way back to where the bend of the hook meets the vise and advance the thread back to the initial tie-in point for the tubing (2). Tightly wrap the Larva Lace forward, making flattened, even segments to the back of the pattern’s body, until it reaches the point where the thread is hanging and can be tied down securely with a number of strong thread wraps (3).
Trim the excess tubing off and secure the end of the remaining tubing to the hook and create a yarn out of the course sparkle dub to form the thorax (4). Wrap the dubbing around the tie-in point of the Larva Lace forming a small thorax (5). Just between the thorax and the bead head, tie in a green-tipped pheasant back feather by its tips and trim the excess fibers away once secured (6). Wrap the feather around the hook shank once to form the soft hackle collar and trim before whip finishing and adding a drop of cement for posterity (7).
Employ these flies in deep pockets and riffles in those clean-running streams that harbor populations of caddisfly nymphs and tie them in a number of natural colors to start. Then, to match the hatch on a given stream, simply flip or pick up a rock and see what kind of caddisfly larvae inhabit the water and what color they are (usually green, olive, brown, grey or black, oftentimes with a black or darker head). Adjust the tying materials accordingly in terms of Larva Lace tubing, dubbing and bead color and come back with an even better selection. Panfish like sunnies and rock bass will slam these offerings, and stream trout will find it hard to pass up this fly that looks a little bit like any one of its 14,000 originals.
(Featured Photo: The Larva Lace Caddis tied by Nick Simonson. Simonson Photo)