Elk Hair Caddis tied by Barry Ord Clarke

Elk Hair Caddis

Elk Hair Caddis pattern is from the tying bench of well know American fly tyer Al Troth.

This is probably the most well known caddis pattern in existence, and rightly so. The Elk Hair Caddis as it is also known is one of the best adult caddis patterns that you could use.  I myself have fished this pattern for at least 30 years, and every season it never fail to provide me with great sport.

You can fish this pattern dry so that it just floats high on the hackle points, you can fish it half drowned so that it gurgles like a popper when retrieved and you can even fish it wet just under the surface. A brilliant all round pattern.

Elk Hair Caddis pattern

Most of the materials are readily available but in the past few years the bleached elk hair has become more difficult to obtain.  Al Troth himself recommends that you use the thigh hair from a cow elk, bleached, this I have found impossible to obtain but any good quality bleached elk does a good job.  If you find like me that the bleached elk cannot be obtained, regular elk will also do a good job, it’s just a little more difficult to see at a distance on the water.

Elk Hair Caddis step by step


1. Attach the tying thread and run it along the hook shank until it hangs level with the hook barb.


2. Prepare the hackle and tie in at the base of the hook shank.

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3. Attach the dubbing to the tying thread and begin to build up the body of the fly.


4. Once you have dubbed the whole body make sure you leave enough space for the elk wing head (2 mm behind the hook eye) secure the dubbing with a few turns of tying thread.


5. Using a hackle plier wind on the hackle, palmered style along the whole of the dubbed body.

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6. Tie off the hackle and trim off the access.


7. With the use of a small hair stacker even thew ends of a small bunch of elk hair. You can also remove the under wool at this stage.


8. Remove the hair from the stacker and lie it along the top of the hook as shown to measure the correct length of wing required.


9. Still holding the hair in place , change hands and make two loose turns of tying thread around the head of the fly, and pull tight. Make a couple more turns of tying thread to secure the wing.

Elk Hair Caddis


You can now trim of the surplus elk hair butt ends to make that distinctive EHC head.

Tie off the tying thread and remove.

front elk hair caddis


The finished Elk Hair Caddis.

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How to tie Elk Hair Caddis video tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is a elk hair caddis a dry fly?

  • The Elk hair caddis is a dry fly designed by the well know American angler Al Troth.

What does an elk hair caddis imitate?

  • The Elk hair caddis imitates an adult caddis fly.

When to fish elk hair caddis?

  • The elk hair caddis is best fished when adult caddis flies are on the surface of the water. But it can also be fished at anytime during the season as an attractor.

How to fish an elk hair caddis fly?

  • The most common way of fishing the elk hair caddis is to use a short retrieve and pull it through the surface of the water causing a small wake. This imitates the skating movement of the adult caddis fly and catches the fishes attention.

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2 thoughts on “Elk Hair Caddis

  1. Lot of things you can do with this fly.You can dress this fly with floatant and drive fish crazy by holding the flyline high off the water and skittering it across different current tongues.