Cased Caddis are plentiful in the
Smoky Mountain streams. Little
River has plenty of this species.
Tiny Black Caddis Adults are not
the most important stage of this
insect - the pupae are. It is much
more productive to fish an
imitation of the pupa than the
adult of this species.
|Fly Fishing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Brachycentrus specie of
caddisflies are among the most
overlooked insects that trout feed
on in the park. The adults of this
species are known as "Little
Black Caddis". Species of this
same genus are also known as
the "Mothers Day Hatch" in some
locations because they hatch in
the Spring near Mothers Day.
Don't confuse these with the Tiny
Black Caddis to the left. They
emerge entirely differently.
Caddisflies, especially the net-spinning
caddisflies, are not very plentiful in the Smokies
but some species do exist in abundant
quantities in some cases. The leaf shredders,
free-living, and predator caddisflies are present.
There are many different genera with numerous
species of them that can be found in the park. It
is important to be able to recognize which ones
are fairly prevalent and which ones are usually
Most anglers do not recognize a caddisfly hatch
until it is too late to do them any good. They wait
until they spot the adults flying around the banks
or on the stream side vegetation before they
make any effort to imitate them. At that point in
time they may never even touch the water. After
they have hatched the only time they are going
to be important to the angler is when the
females deposit their eggs. This may be a day
or several days away. This may occur at night
and often does. They can attempt to deposit
their eggs several times, repeating the action.
They deposit their eggs sometimes from the air
and don't touch the water. Some species crawl
into the water from the banks and rocks to
deposit their eggs on the bottom. Many of them
dive and paste them on the bottom. Others drop
them by touching the water.
Some of them swim to the surface and hatch
similar to a mayfly. Others emerge on the
bottom and swim to the surface to fly away. Still
many of them crawl out of the water on the
bottom and up on rocks, sticks or the bank to
hatch. Some of them even swim to the surface,
hatch and run to the banks on the surface of the
water. Unless you know which way the
particular species of caddisfly emerges and
how it goes about depositing its eggs, you are
guessing at trying to imitate its behavior. Tying
on an elk hair caddis and fishing it dead drift
works in about 10% of the cases where adult
caddisflies are observed and doesn't work in
about 90% of the cases.
Little Black Caddis:
One of the most important and overlooked
hatches in the park is the Little Black Caddis
usually called the "Mothers Day Hatch" in many
other places. These are Brachycentridae family
species of the Brachycentrus genus. During the
winter or early spring you can observe the
chimney cases attached to rocks in the stream
in most of the streams in the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park.
These caddisflies hatch in the early spring or
late winter months when the water is 48 to 52
degrees F., during the afternoon in a manner
similar to mayflies. This hatch usually starts just
prior to the Quill Gordon mayfly hatch. It can last
up to a month or more depending on weather
The pupae swim to the surface and hatch into
adults. The adult caddis ride the water a short
time and fly away. They deposit their eggs by
touching the water with their abdomens, so
catching trout during the ovipositing period is
very productive. This usually occurs from
mid-afternoon until dark.
These caddisflies are a hook size 16 or 18,
depending on their sex, in all 3 stages of life.
The Green Sedge, sometimes called the Green
Rock Worm because of its larva stage, can
occasionally be found in some of the park's
streams. The Green Sedges or Rhyacophila
species also usually hatch in sparse numbers.
Abrams Creek has a substantial quantity of
them but they are also present in many other
streams such as Little River.
The Green Sedge rock worm or larvae are free
living larvae that are readily taken by trout. They
do not build cases except the short period of
time when they change to the pupae stage.
They are available throughout the year. There
are several species of them in the park. They
range in hook size from 14 to 18. You will find
them in the fast water and riffles. The larva
stage is by far the most important stage to
imitate. The adult stage of this mayfly is rarely
found in numbers large enough to justify
imitating. It is best to imitate the larvae stage of
the Green Sedge.
Little Black (Short-Horned Sedges) Caddis:
Little Black Caddis, also called Short-Horned
Sedge, are fairly plentiful in some of the
streams. These are saddle cased larvae. You
will find some of the Glossosoma species but
we have never found them to be intense
hatches. They are about a hook size 20 to 22.
The emergers are the most important stage
because they emerge mid-stream and stay on
the water until they get to the banks. They dive to
deposit their eggs. You would imitate this with a
wet fly imitation.
Tiny Black Caddis:
Chimarra species, called Tiny Black Caddis,
are occasionally found in some of the park's
streams. These are a hook size 20. These
crawl out of the water usually on rocks to hatch
during the day and deposit their eggs in the
afternoons. They hatch when the water is about
Cinnamon (Spotted) Sedges (Abrams Creek):
You will also find some of the net-spinning
caddisflies that hatch in the spring. These are
mostly Ceratopsyche species called Cinnamon
Sedges. You also may find them in some other
streams by they are usually very low quantities
of them. The pupa stage is the best stage of life
to imitate. The egg ovipositing can also create
some action from the trout. This happen just
before and after dark. These are a hook size 16
Little Sister Caddis (Little Olive Sedge)
Cheumatopsyche species or Little Sister
Sedges also hatch in Abrams Creek. These are
also net-spinning caddisflies. They can be
found in some other streams but never in any
appreciable concentration. It is best to imitate
the pupae stage of this caddisfly. If you find the
rocks slick in a stream, you may find some of
these and the other net spinners. The egg
layers can be imitated effectively just before
dark. These are a hook size 20-22.
Great Brown Autumn Sedge:
The Limnephilidae family of caddisflies, called
Northern Casemakers, have some genera
present in the park streams. Probably the most
important is the Great Brown Autumn Sedge.
This is a larger caddisfly that has a cinnamon
colored body and brown to yellowish brown
wings. The problem with them for anglers is
that they both emerge and deposit their eggs
during the night. This occurs in the fall of the
year. You will find their large cases, built of
wood, around the edges of most of the streams.
They are a hook size 10-16.
Long Horn Sedges:
There are some members of the Leptoceridae
family of caddisflies in the Smokies but they are
few and far between. We have only found a few
of these long-horn caddisflies. One reason is
that they prefer moderate to slow water. These
are a hook size 16 to 20 depending on the
Little Gray Sedge:
The Little Gray Sedges are Goera species of the
Limnephilidae family. They have dull yellow
bodies and tannish gray wings. Many anglers
just refer to them as tan caddis. They hatch in
the late spring in the riffles. These caddisflies
can hatch in larger quantities depending on the
particular location on the stream. They are a
hook size 18.
There are several other species of caddisflies
found in the park but none of them that we have
encountered hatch in large quantities. If you
have larva, pupa and adult imitations of the
above caddisfly species we feel sure you will
have something close enough to imitate any of
the other species you may encounter.
Copyright 2007 James Marsh
The Ceratopsyche genus larva
is not the most important stage
of this insect - the pupa is. It is
much more productive to fish an
imitation of the pupa than the
adult Cinnamon Sedge.
Adult Cinnamon Sedges are
not very plentiful. These do
deposit their eggs late in the
day and trout can be taken on
imitations of them.
Another Cased Caddis species
of the Northern Case Makers.
Limnephilidae family species
are somewhat plentiful..
Large Cased Caddis are plentiful
in many streams. Little River has
plenty of this species.
Adult Caddisflies are often
difficult to identify even down to
the genus level. You get a much
better opportunity of identifying
them in their larvae stage of life.
Great Autumn Brown Sedge:
These are sometimes spotted
during the fall months. They
deposit their eggs at night and
are not important to imitate.
Net spinning larvae have 3 dark
plates behind their heads. They
feed from a silk thread strung out
from their little houses.
Rock Worms are the larva stage
of the Rhyacophila family. These
are free-living caddis. With the
exception of Abrams Creek these
are not very plentiful yet they exist
in many streams such as Little
River. The adults of these are
called Green Sedges and are not
as important as the larva or pupa
stage. You can easily tell these
from the net-spinners. They only
have one dark plate behind their
heads. The net-spinners all have