How to Tie an October Caddis Soft Hackle

Producer: Tim Flagler

Unlike many caddisfly species, October Caddis emerge as winged adults, not on the water’s surface, but instead, swim to and crawl out on shoreline rocks where they then emerge as large orange winged adults and fly away, leaving their pupal shucks behind. This easy-to-tie October Caddis Soft Hackle is supposed to imitate a pupa making its way from the stream bottom to a rock on the shore. During this time, they’re extremely vulnerable and trout take full advantage of it.

For a hook, I’m going to use a Fulling Mill 35025 in size 12. Begin by getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.

For thread, I’ve loaded a bobbin with a spool of rusty brown UTC 70 Denier. Black or brown will also work just fine. Get your thread started on the hook shank leaving a little space behind the eye, and take a few touching wraps rearward before snipping off the excess tag.

Small, gold Ultra wire is used for the rib, a 6” length is enough to make numerous flies. Lay one end of the wire against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure it. Continue taking touching wraps rearward, binding the wire to the near side of the hook, all the way back to the start of the bend.

A burnt orange Brahma hen skin that includes a chickabou pelt is about the only other thing needed to create the fly. Start by plucking a well-formed, long chickabou feather free from the skin. On these feathers, it’s usually easy to see where the stem begins to narrow. Strip all the fluff away from the thick part of the stem then wet the feather to make it more manageable. Lay the feather on top of the hook shank so its tips extend a short distance beyond the hook bend, and take 3 or 4 wraps of tying thread to secure it there. Pull the feather rearward and take wraps around just the hook shank to relocate your tying thread almost back to the initial tie-in point. Using your favorite hackle pliers, here, plunger-style, get hold of the feather’s stem and make a few gentle clockwise twists. Start taking touching wraps with the lightly twisted feather, up the hook shank, to form the body of the fly. When you reach your tying thread, use it to anchor the feather then snip the excess off close. Take a few more thread wraps to make sure the feather’s locked down really well and to smooth out the tie-down area.

Get hold of the gold wire and start making open spiral counter wraps with it to rib and segment the fly as well as protect the feather beneath. To firmly anchor the counter wrapped wire, use it to change the direction of wrap of your tying thread and take 3 or 4 counter wraps of tying thread. You can then use the wire to change the direction of thread wrap back to normal. Take a few more thread wraps to anchor the wire rearward then helicopter to break it off close.

Rusty brown SLF Prism dubbing is used to add a little sparkle to the thorax of the fly. You don’t need much. Use the dubbing to create a short, thin noodle on your tying thread. Start taking wraps with the noodle to build up a bulbous little thorax on the fly.

Now for the soft hackle. Select a good looking Brahma hen feather with nice, short fibers at its tip, and pull it free from the skin. Strip away all the lower fuzzy fibers then get hold of the feather’s very tip and gently pull down the fibers beneath it. Ideally, you want to have fibers that are approximately a full hook in length pulled down below the tip. Snip the tip off to form a small triangular tie-in anchor. Lay the tie-in anchor against the near side of the hook and take a few tight wraps of tying thread to secure it, ending at the back edge of the hook eye. Pull the feather up and preen the fibers rearward to fold them around the stem. Start taking wraps with the feather, preening the fibers back as you go. The fibers will get slightly longer as you take wraps, 2 or 3 is generally enough. Use your tying thread to anchor the feather’s stem then reach in with the very tips of your tying scissors and snip the excess off close. Once again preen all the fibers rearward and take thread wraps to hold them back and produce a neat little head on the fly. Get hold of your whip finish tool and use it to do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish, then seat the knot well and snip or cut your tying thread free. A drop of head cement applied to the thread wraps will help to neaten things up and to ensure nothing comes unraveled.

And that’s the October Caddis Soft Hackle. They’re fairly easy to tie and a whole lot of fun to fish.