Caddis Pupa

Caddis Pupa Illustration by John Newbury

Of all the members of the EPT group, caddis are the only family to exhibit a complete life cycle: larva, pupa, and adult. The pupal form is the transitional stage between either a sheltered dwelling of free-living caddis larva and the winged adult. Free-living caddis larva only build protective shelters of debris or stones that they seal themselves inside during pupation. Caddis pupa are only available at the time of emergence and in most cases, emerging pupa is the most vulnerable stage of the life cycle that available to trout. 

It has been debated over the decades the theory that caddis inflates their exoskeletons with a gas bubble to emerge to the surface. While I have not seen this phenomenon in person, I have seen tiny flashes of light near the surface of the water like that of the paparazzi shooting a movie star walking the red carpet. I have surmised that I was witnessing the glints of light as caddis emerge encased in this so-called gas bubble. Because of this phenomenon, I fish with caddis emerger patterns that imitate this gas bubble to some degree at or very near the surface instead of presented deeply. When fishing deeper in the water column, I use much less flashy, more opaque caddis pupa imitations because they have not begun to exhibit this gas bubble yet.

I have observed several caddis species whose exoskeleton would exfoliate in the process of emergence. The chitin of the pupa would be somewhat transparent allowing the more colorful adults' abdomen to show through. Patterns such as my Lucent Sedge imitate this occurrence. Either way, I strive for a bright yet transparent effect when designing caddis pupa patterns.

Newbury's Mothers Day Jig

MDJ - mothers day jig

  • Hook: Heavy jig #16-18.

  • Bead: Black nickel.

  • Rib: Sybai pearl blue tinsel.

  • Abdomen: Creamy Green hares mask fur.

  • Thorax: Spike Dubbing ( 50/50 blend of fox squirrel body fur and black hares mask fur).

  • Legs: Gray Brahma hen saddle mounted on each side. Doubles as wing buds.

  • Collar: Black hares mask dubbing.


Cold War Caddis

  • Hook: Standard jig #14-20

  • Bead: Black nickel.

  • Underbody: White veevus 14/0 thread.

  • Body: Chartreuse body quill forming a bubble taper. Coated with tack free UV resin

  • Thorax: Hemingway’s UV dark bronze peacock dubbing.

  • Collar: Black hares mask.

Giant Caddis

On some of the rivers that I fish containing healthy populations of large Hydropsyche and Arctopsyche grandis caddis, I witness a slow and steady emergence pattern all day long throughout the summer months. On some of these rivers, these Hydropsyche never hatch in large blizzards like smaller caddis species do, but instead spread, emergence over a wide range of time. This slow and steady strategy provides an opportunistic meal throughout the day for fish causing rises to occur on "something" out there. I find when I am seeing rises (April-Oct) but no observable hatch activity, I can bet that these are what they are taking. Most often the fish are taking emergers a foot or two below the surface but carry so much momentum that they break the water surface.

I employ a tight line drift with an occasional Leisenring Lift. Swinging the fly all the way across a pool at the end of the drift is deadly.

Hook: Firehole Sticks #321. #10-14
Bead: Black nickel tungsten.
Abdomen: Pale creamy green caddis, ribbed with sculpin olive uni-wire, Hends shellback #10 over the back.
Thorax: Light cinnamon/tan rabbit dubbing well brushed out to form a halo around the body.
Collar: Tan Brahma hen - 1 turn.
Head: Chocolate brown followed by black rabbit dubbing.

Crossover Emergent Pupa

Hook: Firehole Sticks 321 #8-16
Thread: 50D GSP
Bead: Black nickel tungsten or brass
Underbody: Veevus pearl tinsel
Abdomen: Medium Olive D-rib.
Rib: Hemingway’s Hare’s Dubbing tan in a split thread dubbing loop. Brush the dubbing out with a wire brush to create a halo effect.
Thorax: A few extra turns of the ribbing  to create a thorax.
Wing: Natural dark dun deer hair.
Collar: Arizona dub brown peacock - rough.
Note: doubles well for an egg laying diving caddis.

Ginger Caddis Pupa

Hook: Hanak H300BL Original Czech Nymph #8-14.
Bead: Copper or black nickel countersunk tungsten.
Thread: Veevus white 10/0.
Body: Tan Ultra Lace regular, Uni_Mylar Peacock/Or #12 orange side up pulled over the back and under the lace.
Rib: Ginger hares mask dubbed onto thread and wrapped in the grooves of the lace, brushed with a wire brush out to form gills and a fuzzy halo. Trim flush along the dorsal side on the abdomen.
Thorax: Dark spike blend in a dubbing loop, well brushed out.
Collar: Golden brown mottled Brahma hen cape feather, 1-2 wraps Only. Trimmed flush on the top.
Head: Black hares mask dubbing.

Little Green Caddis Pupa #1

Hook: Hends 450 #12-18.
Thread: White.
Bead: Black nickel tungsten or brass.
Body: Medium Chartreuse D-rib with black swiss straw over the back. Alternate the swiss straw over and under with each wrap of the body.
Thorax: Hends Spectra dubbing #335.
Wing Buds: Black swiss straw. UV resin over top. Mark the top of the dorsal cover and bead with a black sharpie to color.

Wire Caddis - Green

Hook: Firehole Sticks 633 #14-18.
Bead: Black nickel tungsten.
Thread: 50D GSP White.
Abdomen: Small chartreuse and golden olive ultra-wire, UV resin coated.
Thorax: Sulky silver metallic opal tinsel wrapped over wire prior to coating with UV resin.
Collar: Dark spike blend. (50/50 mixture black dubbing and fox squirrel)