Insects and other foods the trout should be eating:
2. Little Winter Stoneflies
3. Blue-winged Ollives (Baetis brunnicolor) and Little BWOs
4. Blue Quills
5. Quill Gordons
6. Little Black Caddis (Brachycentrus)
7. Little Brown Stoneflies
Most available/ Near hatching and/or other types of available food:
8. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
"K.I.S.S. A Bug" Series - Little Black Caddisflies - Part 3
Imitating the Emerging Pupa
The Little Black Caddis are about as close to a mayfly as a caddisfly will ever get. They hatch
very much like mayflies that hatch in the surface skim. Trout can be taken on imitations of both
the emerging pupa and the adults but it's usually much more productive to use an imitation of the
The Little Black Caddis pupae slowly swim to the surface when emerging. They have
what's called two middle legs that wiggle to help them reach the surface. Air bubbles released
from the pupa sheathing also aid the little pupa in reaching the surface. My guess is that it's
probably the air bubbles more than the leg action that propels the pupa to the surface. They
emerge into adults in the surface skim by shedding their thin pupa skin. As soon as the wings are
dry enough, they fly away to the stream-side bushes, trees and grass where the males and
females congregate to mate.
These caddisflies usually don't hatch in shallow water or near the edge of a stream like many
other caddisflies. In most cases they hatch mid-stream and by that I mean anywhere out in the
stream where there's some depth to the water.
The Little Black Caddis hatch usually starts in the early afternoon and if it's a cloudy
day, it can last until late afternoon. You will sometimes see the adult caddisflies fluttering on
the surface just as soon as they emerge but most of the adults you see on the surface will be
females from a different day's hatch depositing their eggs. This is a fairly common situation when
the skies are overcast. The combination egg laying and hatching usually occurs later in the
afternoon and can increase the activity to the point it becomes a feeding frenzy.
The pupae usually hatch in water that's relatively smooth, even in streams that consist mostly of
fast moving pocket water. They seek the slower, smoother areas of the stream to emerge. They
will hatch near the tail ends of runs and even in the tail ends of pools. It's during the time that
the pupae are accenting to the surface and changing into an adult that the trout feed
on them the most. This is very easy for the trout to do because it's impossible for the pupae to
Most of the time, you won't see the trout splash the surface feeding on the pupae. In fact, most
anglers don't even recognize the hatch is taking place. The trout will sometimes take the
adults on the surface before they depart the water, but if so, it's usually late in the hatch period
when the water is warmer than normal. Trout feeding on the hatching Little Black Caddisflies on
the surface is the exception, not the rule. Most of the time you see trout hitting the surface is
when females that hatched a few days before are depositing their eggs at the same time other
caddisflies are emerging.
If you watch carefully, you can easily tell the difference in the newly emerged caddis and the egg
layers. The newly hatched caddis will flutter their wings trying to dry them and then depart the
water. The egg layers will land on the surface for a few seconds and then fly a few feet only to
repeat the process. Most of the time they just land on the surface a few seconds before departing
the water again, much like an airplane student pilot practicing touch and go landing.
When the Little Black Caddis are hatching and the trout are feeding on them, you will just see
flashes of trout. Sometimes the trout will swirl just beneath the surface when they take the
emerging pupae, but most often you will only see a flash of the fish. Occasionally you will see
some surface disturbance but most of the time you won't. Flashing trout is the key to
detecting the hatch is underway. When you see trout flash beneath the surface, but
don't see what it is they are feeding on, it usually indicates caddisflies are hatching.
Often, it's the only clue you will have that a Little Black Caddis hatch is taking place.
If you are fishing pocket water, I suggest you use an up and across presentation of the pupae
imitation. The reason for this is you can get much closer to the feeding trout approaching them in
an upstream direction. Cast slightly up and across the stream and allow the pupa imitation to
swing all the way around downstream. Mend your line as soon as the fly hits the water as
necessary to get the fly down near the bottom. When it's near the end of the drift, slightly and
slowly raise the tip of the rod to make the fly accent to the surface like the real emerging caddisfly
pupae. The trout usually take the fly while it's accenting to the surface.
In smooth flowing sections of the streams, such as the pools, you will be better off using a down
and across presentation. It can be difficult to get very close to the feeding trout in smooth flowing
water and longer cast are required. With either type of presentation, up and across, or down and
across, you want to imitate the pupa swimming to the surface to hatch. You do that by simply
stopping the rod near the end of the drift and allowing the fly to rise back up to the surface. The
current will bring the fly back to the surface for you.
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
"Perfect Fly":Little Black Caddis Pupa