Illawarra Flyfishers Club

Elk Hair Caddis

Text and Photos by Andrew Susani

Hook #10 - #18 (usually #12-14)
Thread Black or Brown 6/0
Body Squirrels fur or similar
Wing Natural coloured Elk Hair
Hackle Brown or ginger cock saddle

Tying Procedure

1. Start the thread at the bend of the hook and tie in a saddle feather by the tip. The feather fibres should be slightly longer than the gape of the hook.  

2. Take some light brown dubbing and dub a small amount on the thread.   

3. Wind a tight, even body of dubbing along the shank, stopping 2-3mm before the hook eye. If you go right to the hook eye, you will end up clogging it and threading your tippet on will be made unnecessarily difficult.

4. Palmer the hackle feather in evenly spaced turns (about 1.5-2mm apart) over the dubbed body and tie it down where the thread is hanging from the previous step.

5. Take a bunch of elk hair about as big as 2 matchsticks and stack it in a hair stacker (or pen lid for the frugal and/or inventive) so that the tips are all lined up. Trim the butts and tie the bunch on top of the hook so that the tips are just extending past the bend of the hook.

6. Look at the fly from the front and the top and make sure that the elk hair is distributed evenly. When you are happy with it, take a couple more turns of thread to make sure it is secure, then trim the butts off at 45 degrees to form a head just behind (or perhaps just over) the eye of the hook. Whip finish, carefully varnish the thread wraps, and the fly is ready for action.


Stroke the hackle backwards as it is wound so that you donít get fibres sticking out towards the front of the fly that will get in the way when you are trying to make the head.

Remember that the less weight you have on the fly, the better it will float, so keep thread work to a minimum and use nice stiff hackles.

For fast water, you might want to have a few flies tied up using 2 hackle feathers instead of one so the fly is more buoyant and wonít get dragged under by the turbulent water.

For slow water, it is better to have flies tied with a sparser hackle so the fly sits in the surface film. It may be harder to see from an anglers point of view, but the fish will always find it more easily if it is partly submerged in the film.