Elk Hair Caddis Fly: Everything You Need To Know To Catch More Fish

by Darby @ Fly Fish And Camp | Last Updated: April 28, 2020

Ask any fly angler about the Elk Hair Caddis and he will tell you that it’s one of the best dry flies that you can get for fly fishing.  It catches a lot of trout, and isn’t super difficult to use, if you know how and when to use it.

Elk Hair Caddis Fly

The Elk Hair Caddis fly is very versatile fly and the trout love them. They resemble an adult Caddis Fly or a Stonefly, both of which are popular trout meals.  They’re also fairly easy to tie and can be turned into several different variations.

Bottom line here, if you don’t have any of these flies in your fly box, scoop some up.  Major missed opportunity if you don’t.

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Everything You Need To Know About The Elk Hair Caddis Fly

The Elk Hair Caddis is considered a “dry fly” because it’s purpose is to float on top of the water.  It can be used in a lot of different situations and is extremely popular during a hatch.   Because it imitates a Caddis Fly or a Stonefly, trout will bite the Elk Hair Caddis fly all throughout the main fly fishing months (Spring, Summer, and a bit of Autumn).

This is a picture of an Elk Hair Caddis fly.

Elk Hair Caddis Fly

How to catch fish with the Elk Hair Caddis Fly

Caddis Flies and Stoneflies are two insects that spend a lot of time in and on the water.  These flies also have a distinct look to them and they both make a lot of movement in the water.  The best way to replicate that movement of the Caddis Fly with an Elk Hair Caddis is to fish in choppy or turbulent waters.

This will give the tumbling and movement that is more than likely going to convince a trout to bite.

Bass Pro Shops author wrote, “[Caddis Flies] jump, bounce and skitter across, enticing fish into biting”.  When you create that same movement with the your own flies in the water, you will naturally increase the chance of you catching more fish.

On my trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota this past week, we were nailing the Brook Trout on the Elk Hair Caddis.  We fished small streams with a lot of rushing water, and focused our attention on the rippling waters.  It worked for us.

Don’t bother fishing the Elk Hair in super deep water because the fish can’t see the fly.  Use a nymph or streamer in deeper water.

Related Article: Parachute Adams Fly

When To Use The Elk Hair Caddis

You can use the Elk Hair Caddis fly nearly all year round, successfully.  I would recommend not using it during the winter, as the fish aren’t eating bugs then, but use it a lot in the Spring and Summer months.

Spring and Autumn have what are called the “Hatch” and the “Fall”.  These are two of the hottest fly fishing periods because there are a lot of fish congregating on the top of the water, and the fish are moving up to the top to get them.  That is when the Elk Hair Caddis can be used to your fullest advantage.

Elk Hair Caddis flies are “dry flies“, so they float on the water.  If there are a lot of bugs on the tops of the water, there are more than likely going to be fish that are swimming up to the top to eat them.

If there are a lot of bugs on the water, examine one a little closer and pick a fly in your fly box that is similar to it.  This is where having a wide variety of flies comes in handy.  It’ll be easier to match the color, shape and size of the bugs in the water if you have a lot of different flies on hand.

Elk Hair Caddis Variety

The Elk Hair Caddis fly has been altered and changed since its first appearance in the fly fishing community.  You can find flies in all sorts of different colors and sizes, but the domination of the fly still remains strong.

This fly has continuously proven that it’s one of the best flies that a fly fisherman can store in their box for a long time, and changing the color up only adds to its versatility.

I personally run several different models of Elk Hair Caddis flies as I have no real reason not too.  I’ve seen them work time and time again, over and over.

I personally like fishing with dry flies myself as I can usually see the fish come up and snag my fly, which is super exciting.  Many anglers swear only by nymphs and wet flies though, but there’s a ton of promise in bringing some dry fliex along in your pack.

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Related: Top Ten Brook Trout Flies of All Time

Conclusion: Elk Hair Caddis Fly

In the end, I would recommend getting some Elk Hair Caddis Flies.  They are super popular amongst fly anglers for a great reason, they work amazingly.  Use them in shallow, turbulent water and use them during the hatch.  There are plenty of different colors and sizes to choose from, so grab a couple different ones.  Who knows?  You might find yourself on a honey hole, way out back with the trout loving them,

Regardless, I hope this article helped you out!  Best of luck and tight lines my friend!