The Story of Clark's October Caddis
On Central Oregon's famed Deschutes River, legend has it that the first time one of the local guides was introduced to Lee Clark's Stonefly was when he curiously plucked it from a near by tree branch - one angler's stray back cast is another's pot of gold (or so the saying goes).
Finding the fly pattern interesting for its light design and clever use of a new material, the guide quickly tied the bug to his leader and on the first cast caught a 12-pound steelhead! Quite the fish tale, eh?
Clark's October Caddis is an easy-to-cast and highly effective imitation of an adult October caddis. Clark began tying his now-famous pattern way back in 1983 and no matter how anglers meet Lee Clark's October Caddis, they just seem to fall in love. This fly is constructed using light, buggy, and durable poly yarn and has been turning heads in riffles and pools across the world for over three decades!
When and Where to Fish Clark's October Caddis
This large sized adult caddis can be fished as either an impressionistic fly pattern when searching for trout or as a realistic imitation when matching the hatch. October caddis are active in trout water throughout the western rivers of North America and are available during early fall (September) to early winter (November). When searching, fish this fly in riffles, well defined current seams, areas below faster currents, and near exposed rocky structure and streamside vegetation. Shallow water near the river bank will also be productive when fishing an October caddis hatch, so be sure to survey the scene thoroughly. These adults do not possess strong flying ability, however, and are often swept into the main current’s drift – look for these floating specimens in the main drift as well as shallower, less energetic water near sheltered areas. Prior to and during an emergence, an angler will easily spot large, orange and brown pupae moving from the rocky depths to the shallower water along the river bank and eventually to the surface of exposed rocks and vegetation to hatch into winged adults – this is the sign to begin fishing the October caddis hatch.
How to Fish Clark's October Caddis
Fish this fly in a variety of water types; a popular strategy is to fish these patterns on a dead drift right through the main current – drifting an adult October caddis through faster riffles, current seams, and the slower water just below these areas can yield excellent results. Adding several twitches during the drift can simulate the egg-laying movements of these fertilized females, and is another highly effective fishing technique. October caddis pupae emerge after moving to the safety of the exposed rocks and vegetation near the shoreline rather than completing their metamorphosis in the water’s surface film like mayflies. This pre- and during-emergence behavior renders shallower and calmer streamside water quite productive just prior to and during an October caddis emergence and hatch. When these famous caddisflies are active, trout prey on them hungrily and voraciously, so don’t be surprised when you feel an aggressive take – set the hook confidently and with care if you happen to be fishing with lighter leaders and tippet material!
This fly was developed in 1983 by Oregonian fly tyer and angler, Lee Clark, for the epic stonefly and caddis hatches of the roaring Deschutes River
- October caddis imitation in the adult life stage
- Use as either an impressionistic searching fly or as a realistic imitation when matching the hatch
- Drift the fly through different water types; faster riffles and shallower water near the banks of a river with moderate to slow currents are the most productive water types for this fly
- Adding several twitches to the fly during the drift can be quite effective
- October caddis are available to trout in the Pacific Northwest and in the Rocky Mountain region from early fall (September) through early winter (November), with the best hatches occurring in October
- Hatches occur consistently and with long duration throughout the daylight hours
- Strikes on October caddis are often far from subtle
- When approaching a shallow water environment with a caddis imitation, be extremely careful not to spook happily feeding trout
October caddis are large aquatic insects native to stretches of water in the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains, with the thickest populations of these orange, brown, and black caddisflies occurring in the Pacific states. The October caddis is sometimes referred to as the “fall caddis” and follows the typical life cycle of incomplete metamorphosis common to all caddis species. During the larval stage, which is often spent in the faster water of rocky riffles and runs, October caddis are easy to spot as they build protective cases from sand and stone grains. After sufficient time within their rocky cases, these larvae will migrate to shallower, calmer water at the margins of a river. Here, these bright orange pupae will wait just a short while before they find an exposed rock or log to emerge to winged adults. As sexually mature adults, October caddis are darkly colored and quickly move to streamside vegetation to mate. Fertilized females wait only a few days to return to the water’s surface to drop their payload of eggs in a vulnerable fluttering fashion. This egg-laying behavior is most intense just before sundown and can provide aggressive trout with a fantastic dinnertime meal. October caddis are most active during the early fall month of September and continue their hatches through November and are commonly found from dawn to dusk on trout water in western North America.