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Friday, September 20, 2013

Palomino Caddis

A "must-have" for caddis fishing

Palomino Caddis
Several years back, I was revamping my caddis dry fly box, and I was tying the typical Elk Hair Caddis, X-Caddis, etc.  Many times when I'm refilling my boxes or looking for new patterns to fish, I'll turn to my friends who guide a lot.  Guide flies are typically fairly simple to tie, and they absolutely catch fish.  I was talking to Charles Card, who guides on Utah's Green River, and asked him about caddis patterns.  He told me about a caddis with an ultra-chenille body, a CDC underwing, and a painted egg sack.  I was curious, so based on what I envisioned his fly looking like, I tied a version of the palomino caddis that I have been fishing ever since.  

This fly is designed to float high, and skate on the water when twitched.  I actually like to cast out, and add a very slight "pop" to it right when it hits the water to entice hungry fish.  This fly has been a top producer for me during the caddis hatch, and also when I'm just fishing it as an attractor when there is no hatch going on.  Most recently, I started teaching my brother how to fly fish, and this is the fly I tied on because it floats really well even if there isn't necessarily a drag free drift.  This fly essentially taught him how to fish.

I asked a good friend (Bryan Gregson) to write about one of his first trips fishing the Palomino Caddis:

There I was, standing in the river parking lot at sunset, shaking my head while frantically rummaging through my gear bag. Rod – check. Waders, boots – check and check. Flies, leader, tippet, floatant, and nippers – check x5. Reel and fly-line, ummmuhh, S*%@!!... no-check.
There were only a few options at this point. Whine andhave my buddy who brought all of his gear take me all theway home, which isn’t really an option, or figure something out. A quick inventory of the gear bag and a few minutes later I was all rigged and ready to go. I tied a knot at the reel seat and strung my rod with 12-ish feet of 25lb maxima. On the end of the mono I tied on a 9-foot leader and a few feet of tippet. Fly selection was a Palomino caddis tied by a good friend, Cheech.
I was limited in my fishing, as I couldn’t really cast. I waded out as deep as I could to the middle of a fast riffle section. My buddy was easily casting and fishing where ever he pleased. It was frustrating, at first.
I would do my best to haul, double haul, triple haul, water haul, any haul, to get the line past my rod tip, but with little success. Once I finally figure out how to hack the fly onto the water, I’d dance the Palomino caddis on the surface, skittering across the fast water… all the way into the mouths of willing fish. At first I was absolutely amazed I was able to get the fly out, let alone actually hook a fish, but many was a bit shocking at first. Landing the buggers was also entertaining and not very graceful. My fishing buddy didn’t have much success that night, even though he was efficiently mobile. Then it all made sense. I was standing in the middle of feeding fish during a caddis hatch with the right materials, the proper profile and with the appropriate action for the situation. I learned a few things that evening, one of which is location, location, fly-select-tion…and not to over fish while casting.



Thread: Uni 8/0 Rusty Brown
Body: Ultra Chenille - Worm Brown or Olive.  Buy it HERE
Overwing: Elk or deer hair.

Video Tutorial:


  1. Just looking back on you guys think this is a solid replacement for the Elk Hair Caddis or is it more of an attractor pattern for swift water?

    1. I think both flies have their place on your fly box, but I have found myself fishing the Palomino the most.

    2. Hi Cheech, I finally got around to tying this up and replacing all my EHC. Really glad that Loon Lochsa is around out and CDC friendly! Quick question, do you have any mods that help this float better? I haven't fished it yet, though I know that ultra-chenille tends to soak up water. Do you also ever tie with any hackle up front or not necessary?

    3. Steve,

      It actually is one of the highest floating patterns out there. It is one that I actually use powder floatant on quite a bit because you can kind of jam it into the ultra chenille. If the ultra chenille soaks up water, just squeeze it out, dry it off as best you can, and then put more Lochsa on it.


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