Poly Caddis (v2.0)

GB’s early 1970s synthetic take-off of the Elk Hair Caddis is one of my own go-to patterns. It not only looks right and fishes right, but the synthetic aspect allows enormous color/texture variation. And as any red-blooded fly-tying geek knows, being able to mess around with colors and textures is one of the best things about fly tying!

Well, after a mere 40 years, GB has updated the pattern to version 2.0, with massive changes. Okay, so “massive” may not be the right term. Let’s go with “miniscule, but slick.” Basically, he went to a reverse-tied wing that also incorporates hackle reinforcement. I am a fan of reverse-tied wings, as much for the looks as for anything (hey, I’m a artist-type, so I go for the visual as much as the functional). I like the v2.0 end result. Still very easy to tie, still looks right (better, actually), and you can still customize the thing ad infinitum.

So is it startling? Cutting edge? Brilliantly innovative? Not at all. Just a basic, old-school pattern with a slick little update that moves it a bit more into the modern era. Sometimes that’s all you really need….

If you like polypropylene-based caddis patterns, I suggest you also check out the Rackelhanen, a Swedish pattern that pre-dated the Poly Caddis by several years. I am also fond of the design of Boström and Bergqvist’s Streaking Caddis, although it is a deer-hair pattern, not poly (it happens to be on the same page as the Rackelhanen, but lower down).


  1. Lars Bentsen says:

    Hey Jason and GB!

    Great looking fly. One thing that immediately springs to mind is a version with a CDC hackle instead on standard hackle. I’m no big fan of CDC as such, but sometimes it just does the trick.

    I tie and fish a poly version of Goddard’s Sedge, which I really like as it merges the qualities of the Goddard Sedge (great silhouette) with the way Boström fishes the Rackelhanen (I have a handful of his originals BTW, from a clinic with him 12 or 13 years ago :-). The poly prop enables the fishing technique that makes the Rackelhanen uniqie – you can pull it under and it stays subsurface as long as there’s tension on the leader, and as soon as the fisherman releases the tension, the fly pops back to the surface. My version of Goddard’s immortal pattern does the same thing.

    You can see the fly on Sexyloops here: http://www.sexyloops.com/flytying/gps.shtml


    • JB says:

      Lars—Thanks very much for taking the time to leave an expanded comment on the PC and the Rackelhanen as well as your poly-ized Goddard Caddis. I do a similar type of thing (that is, poly in a spinning loop) at shows to demonstrate the spinning loop technique, but I then attack the finished example (just poly, no hackle) with a scissors and a cigarette lighter to show various design possibilities. I’ll have to post that spinning loop exercise here, with a link back to your Poly GC, as well (for those who want to dig into “real” patterns with spun poly).

  2. Lars Bentsen says:

    Hi Jason!

    I’d love to see how a lighter can actually be a good thing on poly :-). Look forward to that!

    And you’re welcome of course!


  3. Gary Eaton says:

    Jason & Lars,

    I have done away with open flame devices on finished flies and gone to a hand-held pencil cauterization device borrowed from my medical work. Precision, accuracy, and fine detail opportunities are expanded with no significant compromise of the heat-shaping. I still use open-flame to burn eyes onto mono ends, etc.

    Still must keep one’s fingers out-of-the-way, though. I also keep a little spray bottle of water nearby to act as a gentle fire extinguisher (I used to be a firefighter, too).


  4. JB says:

    Gary—I’ve got a cauterization tool here that I do indeed use, and I agree with you—it’s the way to go when you need to do “cleaner” work on synthetics. But, as you mention with mono eyes, there are times when I don’t want to cut/shape, but to congeal, and then, I go for open flame (think scuds and cressbugs, for example). You may use your cauterization tool for that process, too, and if you prefer it, I can definitely understand that. Something satisfying, to me, though, in seeing all of that poly turn to liquid and melt down under a hot flame (but then again, I was always that kid that volunteered to build the campfire, so it may have more to do with personality traits that any real tying advantage ;-) ).

    Never knew that you had also been a firefighter—I can guess your aversion to exposed flesh, open flame and melting plastics probably has a basis in more than fly tying!

  5. Gary Eaton says:

    Yes, nearly ten-years as a professional firefighter and paramedic in Colorado. Great work for a young man and lots of free time to fish! I used to tie flies after hours at the fire station if we weren’t busy. Turns out that the fly tying got less and less as I entered the Paramedic work. If I see you building a campfire, I’ll go get a bucket of water ;-{)

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be held for moderation before being posted.