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Dazzle Caddis Emerger

Fly Craft Angling member Doug Wright has gracioulsy provided his favorite caddis emerger, the Dazzle Caddis Emerger.  Doug has developed into a skilled avid fly fisher.  His skills don't end on the water as he has created many innovative patterns.  Here is in his own words is the Dazzle Caddis Emerger.

As summer strolls its way into mid June through July, anglers can expect to hit the exciting caddis (sedge) emergence. Imitating the pupa stage during a hatch can be very effective if you have an idea of the zone where the fish are feeding, but many fly anglers especially enjoy fishing patterns imitating the moth-like adults. This offers an exhilarating fishery, allowing the fly fisher to “see” everything. Being able to see your buoyant offering attacked by a vicious trout of any size is what fly fishers come to enjoy. Still, the “match the hatch” principle must be followed for success when using surface flies; it’s no different than fishing subsurface imitations. Careful observation reveals the answer. Often, it looks as if trout are feeding on an adult stillwater insect when actually, they are gorging on emerging insects just under the surface or those mired in the surface film. This happens regularly during the popular caddis hatch. The ascended pupa sits within the surface film and begins the slow process of climbing out of the pupal skin, an easy meal for a hungry trout. Armed with a few good emerger patterns added to your caddis box you are prepared to tackle a caddis hatch and the opportunistic emerger stage. My favorite fly pattern to imitate the medium-sized Limnephilidae and the large Phryganeidae (Traveler) families of sedges during the stage of emergence is the Dazzle Caddis Emerger.

It has always surprised me how few stillwater fishermen carry emerger flies in their boxes. Many stream fishermen are usually familiar with these  types of patterns, but many stillwater fishers seldom resort to one. In a lake there is virtually no curren trout can scrutinize your imitation, taking all the time in the world and either accept or refuse the pattern. In a stream, depending on the current speed,  trout have to decide whether to take a pattern in a matter of seconds. Many stream fishers have good success with emergers, so a lake angler should definitely have a few. Trout often become selective, and if they’re feeding on emerging insects, you’re going to want to be fishing an emerger pattern.


I had a few emerging sedge imitations in my fly box, but nothing I was really happy with. After watching fish gorging themselves on sedge emergers, with limited luck on my part, I was off to the tying bench. The end result was the Dazzle Caddis Emerger. I tied the tail to simulate the shuck using dubbing material. I prefer to use Arizona Semi Seal, Angler’s Choice Mohair Plus or Dazzle Dubbing, in appropriate colours. Materials like these represent the casing well. They have the “residual colour” of the caddis shuck and a little shine with the addition of translucency when the suns rays strike the fly. Other shuck materials to be used include Z-Lon, Antron. When tying in the tail, don’t use too much material or you won’t have the same translucent effect. I added a thick deer hair wing and some wing pads of lacquered goose quills for a touch of realism. The wing case is made of a cut strip of brown sheet foam which aids in the fly’s buoyancy. I got this idea after seeing Phil Rowley’s Emgergent Crystal Sedge Pupa. A few of my fly’s other characteristics also come from this pattern of Phil’s. A broad and scruffy thorax made of Arizona Synthetic Peacock dubbing or any preferred material represents the legs and the insect pushing itself forward within the pupal skin to begin hatching. The legs (or more specifically, the swimmerets) are made using peasant rump or hen pheasant fibers, with the antennae tied in using the same materials or wood duck mallard flank. The final fly does a good job posing as the emerging caddis with the wings projecting outwards, drying its delicate wings.


My favorite way to fish this pattern is to cast out the fly, using a floating line, a good long distance or to a sighted, rising fish. Keeping the line tight, let the fly just sit there, giving it a sharp, six inch pull on a regular occasion. This mimics the movements of a struggling caddis within the surface film. As the hatch progresses with the fish sipping upon the newly hatched adults I have had good luck fishing this pattern as an adult, skittering it across the surface using short, quick, one inch pulls.


Tying this pattern is fun and isn’t a hard task; it is a little more time consuming than some other caddis emerger imitations but in my opinion, it’s well worth it.


Tying Steps



De-Barb the hook, start your thread and wrap shank. Tie in the tail material right above where the barb point would be. Remember, don’t use too much material or you’ll lose the translucent effect. Dub half of the shank with the same material used for the tail.



Prepare and stack a clump of deer or elk hair and tie in where the body ends. As you can see in the photo I like to use a large amount. Don’t worry about using too much and the thorax area becoming too fat; you want a broad thorax anyway. The wing should extend no further than half the tail.

Take a prepared goose quill section. Trim an angle into the end it and secure the pad to the near side of the hook, along the body. It should look similar to the one in the picture. Tie another in the same way on the opposing side of the hook.

Where the wing and goose quill sections are tied in, secure a strip of 5/32” brown sheet foam.



Dub a scruffy thorax leaving a little room behind the eye. In this example I used amber colored dubbing (the under fur from Shelby, our golden retriever) and blended it with highlights of pearl Angel Hair. You can use whatever dubbing you want. A thick thorax is fine; we are imitating a caddis that is about to or has begun to hatch. The insect pushes itself forward within the pupal shuck as it is hatching.



Tie in a pair of swimmerets on either side of the hook using pheasant rump or hen pheasant fibers. Three to five strands on each side are ideal.



Fold the strip of brown sheet foam over the thorax. Do not pull. Pulling the foam too tightly will decrease the needed buoyancy. Secure with tight wraps.



Select two fibers off of a pheasant rump, hen pheasant, or wood duck mallard feather for the antennae. Tie in where the wing case is tied down. Add a good drop of lacquer to increase the security of the antennae. Lift the tag end of the foam strip.  Build a neat head and whip-finish. Trim the foam slightly over the eye in the same fashion as the Mikulak Sedge or Elk Hair Caddis to form a neat, small head. Apply a coat of head cement or brushable Loctite Super Glue around the head in all areas where thread can be seen for added durability.


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