Elk-Hair Caddis

Al Troth is well known as a western fly fishing guide, and he achieved fame with his terrific patterns. One of his most iconic flies is the Elk-Hair Caddis. In the article he wrote about the Elk-Hair Caddis, Troth said he developed this fly when he lived in Pennsylvania before moving to Dillon, Montana. I noticed a couple of differences in the way Troth described the fly and the way I was taught to tie it. Like many other tiers, I was instructed to trim the hackle along the top of the body, and to clip the fibers at an angle underneath the shank so they are longer in the front than at the rear of the fly. Troth did neither of those things for the example he submitted to Fly Tyer. Also, he did not mention the famous clipped-hair head; other tiers added that prominent feature. In any case, there is no debating the effectiveness of the Elk-Hair Caddis.

Al Troth shared this keystone trout pattern in the Fall 1978 issue of Fly Tyer magazine.

elk hair caddis

Hook: Mustad 94838, sizes 20 to 6. I used a Partridge L5A.

Thread: Monocord, color to match the natural insect. I prefer using size 8/0 (70 denier) thread.

Body: Hare’s-ear dubbing, dyed to match the real insect. Rib: Fine gold wire.

Hackle: Dark red or furnace. Wing: Elk flank hair.