The Mugly Caddis is a pattern I developed after my first evening on the Henry’s Fork. I had fished to sporadically rising fish all evening with little success. Meanwhile, another angler, slightly downstream seemed to be hooked up every time I looked his way. I cornered him near dark and with a sharp jab to the back of the head, put him to sleep for a few minutes while I inspected his pattern. The fly he was using was both disappointing and offensive to my fly tying sensibilities. It was merely a no hackle elk hair caddis pattern tied with a poorly dubbed body. The dubbing was too long with strands hanging out all over the place and the wing was too sparse. I hated it.
I went back to my room and tied up a few variations of the poor guy’s fly and proceeded to use them the rest of the week with great success.
Once I got back to Colorado, I sat down and perfected the pattern. The Whitlock SLF blend dubbing is a perfect match for this scraggly bug and the CDC underwing provided more movement and better flotation than the elk hair on the original.
I believe this pattern imitates a stuck in the shuck caddis, trapped partially in the nymphal shuck. The long fibered dubbing imitates the struggling legs of the natural and traps air bubbles to closer mimic the emergent caddis.
I fish this fly both dry and wet. I will often let it swing under at the end of the drift and hang for a second or two before recasting. The Mugly can draw some incredibly aggressive strikes and it is important to remember to drop the rod tip to avoid breaking the fish off on the strike.
I think of the poor guy I cracked every time I use this pattern and send him a silent thank you. It’s the least I could do.