This cool little caddis emerger pattern comes from the gang at Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone. The Iris Caddis is a low floating caddis emerger pattern that utilizes a very unkempt body and unusual wing configuration to match up to the naturals. A Zelon shuck trails from the back of the fly further enhancing the crippled/emerger look. My friend Brandon Patterson and I had a great evening of fishing on the Colorado River earlier this spring using the Iris Caddis to fool the unusually selective browns. It seems that over the past few years the browns up there have not only gotten a fair bit bigger, but also more than a fair bit pickier. Where they used to slash at any skating caddis dry pattern, they now hovered in narrow feeding lanes shunning anything that floated high on the surface. Brandon and I were sharing a rod so one could fish while the other could concentrate on trash talking. After an inordinate amount of perfect drifts and fly changes, I knotted the Iris Caddis to the 5x tippet and made a drift to the nearest trout. Just like we had been hoping all along, the fish rose confidently up and ate the low floating caddis with a confident rise. We continued beating them up until it was too dark to see and spent the drive home lamenting how tough these fish had been. That is: HAD been until we put on the Iris Caddis. Now go tie some up and make your own fish story.
Hook: TMC 100SPBL #14-20
Thread: 8/0 Camel Brown
Shuck: Amber Zelon
Abdomen: Hare’s Mask Dubbing, natural or dyed. In this case I have used Gold Dyed Hare’s Mask
Wing: Amber, white or dun Zelon
Thorax: Same dubbing as abdomen
Start the tying thread at the seventy five percent point and make a smooth thread base back to the bend. Return the thread to the starting point.
Use a pinch wrap to attach a half strand of kinky Zelon to the shank at the seventy five percent point.
Wrap back over the Zelon to the bend of the hook with smooth tight wraps. Trim the excess Zelon from the front of the hook. Bring the thread back to the midpoint on the shank.
Dub a tapered abdomen from the bend of the hook to the seventy five percent point. Try to make a sharp shoulder at the front of the body as shown here. Wrap the thread from the front of the dubbed body up to the hook eye and back again to create a thread base for the wing.
Use a dubbing brush to shag out the dubbing on the abdomen. The body should be loose and quite buggy looking so go ahead and get after it with the brush.
It ought to come out looking about like this.
Take a whole strand of Zelon and fold it over into a loop as shown here. Measure the loop so it extends back to just past the mid point on the shank. I am holding the Zelon on edge to show the loop in this photo, but we will want to tie the loop in so it lies flat over the body, like a coin laying flat on a table top rather than standing on edge.
Turn your hand so the loop lays horizontally on the hook and use a reverse pinch wrap to secure the ends to the shank at the front of the abdomen. A reverse pinch wrap is simply a pinch wrap using your thread hand to hold the material and your material hand to work the thread. Kind of like “The Stranger”, but different.
Secure the loop in place with several more tight turns of thread. Clip the butt ends at an angle up from the hook eye and build a smooth thread base over the stubs. Make sure the base of the loop is flush against the front of the abdomen by wrapping the thread back over the base of the wing until it is tight to the front of the body.
Dub a thin strand of fur onto the thread and start dubbing just behind the hook eye. Work the dubbing up to the base of the wing and then forward to the eye again, ending with bare thread just behind the hook eye. Dubbing from the eye back to the wing will prevent the dubbing from sliding down the slope we created with the wing stubs.
Whip finish and clip the thread just behind the eye.
Use the dubbing brush to pick out the dubbing inn the thorax as you did with the abdomen. Be careful not to pull out too many of the fibers in the wing loop, but if you get a few it just adds to the disheveled look.
Finished fly, top view.
Finished fly, front view.
Finished fly, top front view.
Iris Caddis tied with natural Hare’s Ear dubbing and a white Zelon wing. This is probably the most common version, so if you want to be like everyone else…tie ’em up!