The X Caddis Emerger
The X Caddis Emerger is one of the most effective fly patterns for imitating an emerging caddis fly during a river born caddis hatch. During a caddis hatch, normally you will see a few things that are consistent to most caddis hatches. First, you will see lots of adult caddis flying above the river in a very horizontal way, both upriver and down river. Second, you will most likely see lots of feeding trout. The last is what you will not see, and that’s newly hatched caddis adults floating on the surface. Caddis flies have a complete metamorphosis and will usually leave the surface quickly upon emerging from the river. It’s common for most rivers to experience a caddis emergence in the late afternoon/sunset time of day. This of course depends on the river and the geographical location of the river. Many rivers are in deep canyons and the suns rays will leave the river earlier than other rivers. This can trigger an early Caddis hatch.
So, if during a caddis hatch you see rising trout, lots of flying caddis, but no emergent caddis adults on the surface then what are the trout eating? It can only be the emerging caddis just under the meniscus (surface film or tension), in the meniscus or just breaking the surface. When you look at the X Caddis artificial fly, you can see that the fly’s body will lay flat on top or in the meniscus. The tail on the X Caddis imitates the pupal shuck or cuticle (some call it a little sleeping bag) of the emerging pupa which the adult caddis is leaving behind. The deer hair or wing of the X Caddis imitates the wing of the Caddis fly and keeps the X Caddis floating on the surface. The X Caddis imitates that short period of time that an emerging Caddis fly is on the meniscus before leaving the surface to take to the air.
Time has proven the X Caddis as an effective pattern for trout picking Caddis flies that are in or on the surface of the river. It’s also a good lead fly when you are fishing two caddis emerger patterns. The X Caddis, as the lead fly, will cover the surface action for those trout that may be taking the newly emerging adult as well as trigger a strike. Acting as the lead fly in tandem with a dropper, the X Caddis also can act as a strike indicator when using another caddis emerger pattern just under the surface as a dropper fly. This works quite well when fly fishing near dark because it lets you know where on the surface you fly will be, like a beacon. The X Caddis can be tied in a variety of wing, body, and shuck colors. It also can be tied in a variety of sizes that allow it to be matched to most Caddis naturals.
I know some fly anglers that are so enamored by this fly that they have dedicated fly boxes just for the X Caddis. The versatility of the X Caddis also allows you to use it when caddis return to the river to lay their eggs or when they have died on the water. One technique to imitate these kinds of situations is to use scissors or nippers to cut the trailing shuck on the fly off and then use the fly to imitate theses situations. When I’m not familiar with a river I’m fishing, or not familiar with the caddis hatch on a river, I like to go to the X Caddis as my first fly when I’m “working the progression”. From strategic point of view, when working over a hatch, it makes goodsense to use an X Caddis to find the right size, color of wing and body color of the caddis trout are feeding on.