Caddis Magic: The Caddis Jump Technique

Straight up, what’s the big deal about fishing in the first place? Isn’t this just another opening that allows for some fun fly fishing?

This is a loaded question for sure, but to answer it, I dare say that fish eat adult caddies with more ferocity and aggression than any other insect. The reason for this is simple, adult caddis are constantly leaving. They never last! The fish watch them escape constantly, and they have learned that to catch them they must match or even surpass the insect’s aggression. Pisces wound up like a kid gobbling up his Halloween candy on trick-or-treat night.

This results in super splashy rises, and often the fish jump out of the water to eat their prey. No random sips, just pure adrenalized food! And as an angler, this can present some of the most exciting fishing of the year.

Most of us have heard or even experienced the skating of a dry fly just before dusk and at night. This is a super fun way to lure aggressive trout looking to feed on hyperactive summer caddis. However, would you believe me if I told you there was a more realistic way to present a dry caddis fly? It may sound a little strange at first, but let me introduce you to “jumping” your caddy dry fly to better mimic the way flashing female caddies behave when they return to the surface of the water.

Let me give you some quick reasoning as to why this is a more realistic approach when the fishing dries up. First of all, most of the adult caddies that are consumed by fish occur when the female caddies return to the river and begin to jump and dive above and below the surface of the water.

During a fat event, there will be thousands of caddies performing the same action. On the other hand, you will occasionally see an adult caddy motoring over the surface of the water, which mimics the skating of a caddy. If I had to make a guess, I’d say the ratio of actual jumping caddis adults to skating is probably 1000:1. This is not good science, just observations from years of fishing this hat.

Before I dive head first into this technique, I’d like to mention that my friends and fellow anglers Devin Olsen and Lance Egan taught me this. After watching them hook fish with this technique while filming our Modern Nymphing Elevated tutorial, I knew I had to master it myself. Needless to say, for the past three or four years, this has been my go-to technique for targeting fish when adult caddis are plentiful.

Caddis Jumping Technique:

Now let’s jump into what it takes to dance a dry caddy. This can be done with any dry dropper setup, but when fished on a Euro nymph leader with a long Euro rod (10′ – 10’6”) the results are much better. The long rod gives us more reach and the long and light euro leader allows our flies to stay on the move longer. We also fish our dry fly on a dropper tag which helps it move and bounce more freely. The bottom weighted nymph is heavy enough to help cast the euro leader, but not so heavy that it consistently chokes the dry fly. After that, the purpose of the nymph is to give us something to draw on.

Drawing courtesy of Garrison Doctor of Rep Your Water.

As we wiggle the rod tip slightly, it pulls back and forth against the weighted nymph. This allows us to raise and lower our dry fly slightly creating the “jumping” motion while still keeping our flies out on the river.

Tips for Jumping Caddis:

A few extra tips, you will need to get close to your target area as keeping all of your leader out of the water is a must. The maximum distance is probably 30 feet. Make the cast directly in front of you, or perpendicular to the opposite bank. You will need to be in contact with your flies to jump them as they move. This is most easily achieved when your flies are down and facing you with the water tension helping to keep them tight.

Finally, try not to raise your dry fly more than 3-4 inches from the surface of the water. Any more than that and they either won’t see it, or if they try to eat your fly, it will likely be out of their reach and lost.

This is such a fun way to fish, and the visuals are few and far between. It’s hard not to be able to watch trout of all sizes jump out of the river to catch your fly in the air above the surface of the water. Give it a shot this summer, when the banks are full of adults. It will certainly surprise, surprise and even thrill you when it all comes together and the fish are literally leaving the water to eat your fly.

To see this technique in action, watch the award-winning short film “Caddis Magic” by Gilbert Rowley and Phil Tuttle below.

Article, video and photos from Gilbert Rowleyfollow his YouTube channel here. Additional photos and videos from Phil Tuttle.

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