Northwest Fly Tyer

The fly tying pages of Monte Smith

Gary LaFontaine’s Diving Caddis

Posted by nwflytyer on July 1, 2012

This is one of my favorite LaFontaine patterns.  It is truly a “go-to” fly for me and many others.  Why?  It is an excellent crossover pattern that can be fished – lake or stream – throughout the water column.  On a wet fly hook, it sinks nicely.  On a light wire hook, it can be fished in the film.

It is a simple wet fly with a clump of soft hackle feather fibers as a down wing, covered with strands of clear antron.  The antron – in both body dubbing and wing – is the magic material.  It is designed to imitate “plastron respiration.”  Plastron Respiration: the female insect takes an air bubble with her when diving underwater during egg-laying activity to allow her to breathe.

The Diving Caddis imitates the female egg-laying stage of the caddis fly.  The air bubble trapped by the antron allows this fly to be used as an emerger as well, so it is crossover pattern often used when an Emergent Sparkle Pupa would be in order.  It can be greased and fished on top, too.   It is a solid all-around pattern when caddis are about.

Cross reference to LaFontaine class pattern notes Click Here

Let’s tie one.  This is the Brown/Bright Green version:

Hook:  Daiichi 1550 (wet fly), sizes 8-20 (this is a #12)

Thread: Tan 8/0

Rib (optional):  Stripped hackle quill or doubled thread

Body:  Apple Green antron “Touch Dubbing” dabbed on heavily waxed thread

Wing:  Grouse feather fibers

Top:  Clear Antron

Hackle:  Two turns low-grade brown hackle

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Attach thread and wrap to rear of hook.  Take a sticky dubbing wax and run it over the thread, trying to cover all sides.  Be careful to avoid clumps of wax.

Take a bit of your antron dubbing and dab it along the thread.  Fibers will stick to the heavily waxed thread.  Do not touch or roll the dubbing with your fingers; you want to wrap it just as it is.

Note:  Touch Dubbing was a term coined by Gary that is simply a mixture of antron fibers and similar colored fur.  You can find the pre-mixed dubbing at some fly shops and through Gary’s old company, The Book Mailer.  You can make your own by cutting antron ‘sparkle yarn’ into 1/4″ lengths, adding a similar amount of rabbit fur, and blending the mixture in a coffee grinder.

This is what your dubbing thread should look like as you get set to wrap the body.  Note the sparseness.

Wrap forward to complete the body.

For brown soft hackle fibers, I have selected a grouse body feather.  I will pull a few fibers from either side and roll them into a clump that I can add to the top of the hook.

The wing has been attached (length just beyond hook bend) and awaits the application of a few strands of clear antron.

This is a package of clear antron.  It is also sold under the “Hi-Vis” label.  Do not use spooled antron, as it does not possess the same properties.

The antron, slightly longer than the grouse fibers, completes the wing.

The hackle is a low-grade dry fly hackle to be wrapped a couple of times at the front.  It is not supposed to make the fly float, so do not over apply.

I have attached the hackle by the tip on the far side.

Two turns of hackle are made and then the thread is used to force the fibers back over the fly.

The completed Diving Caddis

A Brown & Tan Diving Caddis

Copyright 2012 – Monte Smith

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One Response to “Gary LaFontaine’s Diving Caddis”

  1. Brian said

    Great tutorial– pretty true to the original I’d say!

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