Horn Cased Caddis Nymph – for spring creeks and river headwaters

The horn cased caddis nymph is simple to tie but is a deadly fish taker.
The horn cased caddis nymph is simple to tie but is a deadly fish taker.

Horn Cased Caddis Nymph

Cast upstream, allow to sink, dead drift close to the bottom

Caddisflies come in many different sizes, colours and shapes. They may not be that glamorous as a trout fly but this larval stage of the insect’s development provides headwaters trout in particular with a vital food source. Caddisflies live underwater as larvae in both still and flowing water before they metamorphose and emerge as adults. Being larger than other insect life forms they are a favourite food source for hungry trout. In this article, we look at tying a simple horn cased caddis nymph. Case-building caddis larvae on Liveinfreshwater.net

The brown horn-shaped case isn’t very big; perhaps 10mm or so. They cling to rocks and stones so generally should be fished close to the bottom. For this reason, your imitation really needs a bit of extra weight to make it sink. The usual method of adding weight is to wrap a little lead around the hook. You can also use copper wire to form the tapered shape of the body. Nowadays many tyers prefer to improve the sink rate of their Horn Caddis imitations by using a tungsten bead at the head. There are many different flies that seek to imitate different stages of the caddisflies life cycle.

My version here has been created with brown floss over fine lead wire. The head is of dark grey wool with just a little teased out with a bodkin to suggest the insect’s legs poking out of its case. A grey and green version is also a good option. The lead wire is necessary to keep the nymph close to the bottom. As always a lead-weighted fly is a danger to fine flyrod tip sections.

The horn cased caddis nymph is really a pattern for spring creeks and river headwaters best fished by casting upstream and bringing it back close to the bottom. It also makes a good dropper when fished with a dry fly which can be used as an indicator with the potential to be taken as well of course.

Anyone who is keen to know more about trout stream insects, their life cycle, and how to imitate them I strongly recommend you get a copy of Trout Stream Insects of New Zealand by Norman Marsh.

Hook size: 10 – 14.

Mustad 37160, TMC 2457 #12-16, Kamasan B420.

Body: Brown floss over lead wrapped around the hook. Coat the lead with cement before wrapping with floss. Head of dark grey wool.