Written by: John Way, The Tackle Shop
Each year at about this time, a great natural wonder occurs: huge clouds of small, dark caddisflies appear on most of Western rivers. Mother’s Day caddis (Brachycentrus americanus) emerge in huge numbers and are the first really big hatch of the year. In years when runoff comes early, the hatch can go by without a single fish being caught, but when the water stays in shape, the Mother’s Day caddis hatch produces some of the best dry-fly fishing of the year. To be successful, you only need a few flies and some good timing.
1. Peacock Fluttering Caddis (sizes 12-18)
This has a super-realistic peacock body that matches the dark body of the naturals. The hackle up front and the elk-hair wing help it float and flutter just like a caddisfly.
2. Royal Elk-Hair Caddis (sizes 14 and 16)
The peacock-and-red royal body make the fish look at this pattern, which works especially well during the heat of the hatch–when there are lots of caddisflies on the water and you need to stand out from the masses.
3. Bugmeister (size 16)
While this is mostly a stonefly pattern, we tie these small for this hatch. The peacock body and the low profile match the naturals quite well, and the parachute post helps you locate your fly on the water.
4. Blooms Tung Dart (size 14)
A simple soft hackle pattern, this works well just prior to the hatch and resembles the emerging caddis.
5. Peacock and Partridge Soft Hackle (size 14)
A classic wet fly pattern that is still effective today. Swing this just prior to the hatch and hang on. When swinging prior to the hatch we bump up a tippet size as strikes are usually violent as the fish chase emerging caddis.
With these few patterns in multiple sizes, anyone can be successful during the Mother’s Day Caddis Hatch.
John Way owns and operates The Tackle Shop in Ennis, Montana, 2017 Orvis-Endorsed Outfitter of the Year (and a finalist in 2020).