The Skitter Caddis

By Nick Simonson

While fishing in the mountains of Norway, everything felt so basic.  From the small matchbox of flies my buddy Einar packed for me, to the wood cup used to scoop water from the hillside springs, simplicity equaled success.  Aside from a handful of synthetic winged silver flies for grayling, everything we threw at the species in the rocky streams was simple: Griffith’s gnats, one-tone parachute hatchers, and of course, some of today’s Skitter Caddis patterns that floated like corks and elicited thrashing surface takes from the fish below, particularly the wild browns that teemed in the eddies of the flows north of Trondheim.

Stateside, the pattern has proven its worth on trout species stocked and wild, along with panfish at midsummer, as a big-bite fly that pays huge dividends. Being quick and easy to tie, and buoyant due to its hair-and-hackle makeup, the Skitter Caddis is one to add to any dry fly collection.  Easily customized to the color patterns of the various species of caddisflies found on any water, the pattern works anywhere these prey items are hatching and fluttering around.

Hook: Dry Size 10-14
Thread: Black 6/0
Underbody/Tail: Stacked Elk Hair
Body: Two Colors of Dry Fly Dubbing (Here Olive/Gray)
Hackle: Dry, Color to Match (Here, Gray)


Start the fly by tying in a selection of stacked elk hair up to one hook eye length behind the hook eye, with the tips pointing back to form a tail that is approximately 3/4 the length of the hook (1).  Once secured, place the thread at the back of the underbody, and tie in a dry fly hackle (2).  At that point, create a dubbing yarn out of the first chosen color of dry fly dubbing and cover one half of the underbody (3).

Wrap the hackle forward to the halfway point and dub the rest of the body of the fly in the second chosen color (4).  Wrap the remaining hackle forward; tie down and secure with a couple wraps of thread (5).  Trim the excess hackle and any out-of-place fibers and create a small thread head before whip finishing and adding a drop of head cement for posterity (6).

While the Skitter Caddis can be greased up with fly floatant, its hollow elk hair base, dry fly dubbing and dry hackle will help keep it afloat without much assistance in slower waters and still flows.  Tie a bunch up in a variety of colors including those that can be used as attractor patterns – think orange, pink, and chartreuse – and natural colors like black, brown and olive. A fast filling of any flybox is the hallmark of this easy-to-tie fly, along with what’s sure to be fast fishing next season as well!

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