First New Fly of 2011: “Owl’s EZ SK8R” – AKA “Owl’s Reverse Caddis Tater” fly…

1 01 2011

[Edit: this will probably not be the last time this happens, but I’ve been told that this type of vertically rotated caddis has been seen in a book a few years ago. So, it’s not new I guess. Still, it’s a nice pattern, works well and skates like a dream. So, even if it’s not an original pattern – I’m glad I worked through the problem and tied up a solution, even if I wasn’t the first to come to the vertical rotation solution. ]

This is the first of what will be a long series of posts highlighting new and successful flies I’ve created of my own design. The first of which is an adult caddis imitation which solved a problem that I’ve always had with the conventional Elk Hair Caddis. If you “skate it”, it will sink.

Normally, with the conventional EHC, I would get maybe 4 skates at most of 6 – 12 feet each, with pauses at various times in order to let the fly float “dead drift” a few inches to induce the take. After each 3 or 4 skate “set”, I’d invariably have to bring the fly in, dry it in my shirt, and reapply more (very expensive, but oh so worth it) Dave’s Bug Float before continuing to fish. If I didn’t stop to dry out the fly and reapply the floatant, I’d spend a frustrating amount of time trying to dry the fly over and over with snappy false-casts, or by bringing it in to just blow on it quickly so that I could get back to fishing ASAP. Of course, using these methods was only a temporary fix and in one or two casts, the fly would poke through the water’s surface and be drowned again.

“Owl’s EZ SK8R” caddis eliminates the need to stop fishing every few casts to enable more skating across and/or upstream. ( If you’re not familiar with the technique of skating a caddis, perhaps I’ll post up a video on the technique next time it comes into play while fishing….) The hackles are many, and are packed in close. The hook is a light-wire curved nymph hook. The wing is tied in like a traditional caddis with one very interesting variation…’s tied in on the bottom of the hook. Upside down. And hallelujah it worked. My first test of the fly in a skating presentation, with 6 to 10 foot skates across and then upstream saw the fly go 8 or 9 runs before sinking a bit. Two false casts and I got an incredible 6 more runs before it was pulled under. I believe the “secret” to this fly is that the hook point isn’t dragging through the water’s surface each time the fly’s skating motion is started, causing the fly’s hook to act much as an ice-pick would in a climber’s hand. The hook pulls and pulls at the fly – a little more each time, until the hackles and finally the wing are underwater. With the new “Owl’s EZ SK8R” caddis the hook rides up in the air, just under the wing and you have three distinct benefits from this design.

  1. You use less floatant, thus saving  you money.
  2. You spend more time fishing…less time false-casting, drying the fly in your shirt and re-applying floatant.
  3. You show the fish a fly without the hook hanging into the water on the dead drift.

Please tie up some for yourself. Just make sure you use good quality hackles, and tie them in closer together than  you would for an EHC. The wing goes on bottom( a rotary vise here is almost mandatory) and you’re ready to skate your fly longer and with less floatant than ever before.

Please also make sure you credit me with the design of the fly by using it’s whole name: ‘Owls’ EZ SK8R” and let me know how it works out for you the next time  you have fish chasing caddis on your favorite water!




8 responses

1 01 2011
Mark Rodseth

Hey Tater…. You don’t really think a reversed hackle caddis is a design you created do you? Try clipping the hackle off the bottom and it will even set flush on the water for ya!

2 01 2011
Owl Jones

Hey Goober, ( .…..?...) Actually, it’s not a “reversed hackle” caddis. It’s not reversed at all. It is however, a caddis that’s been rotated vertically. With the hackle palmered all the way down the hook, I’m not sure how you could ever engineer a “reverse hackle” caddis pattern, btw. As to clipping off the bottom – why would you do that? The idea is to make a high floating, water resistant “skating” caddis – not a fly that would appeal to picky fish on flat water. Clipping the bottom to make the fly float flush with the water would kinda defeat the purpose of all that tightly wound hackle.
Apparently, according to bigerrgish, it’s appeared before somewhere. Knowing that it’s very difficult to create something completely new in fly tying, I can’t say that I’m very surprised that it’s been done before, if it has in fact been done exactly like this. I’d be interested to know how the original tier did with it and whether or not he still fishes it. Has it become his “go to” pattern for skating the fly? How many trout have fallen to it? Does he use it in all kinds of water? Does he use it when he’s not skating the fly? If anyone can remember the original tier’s name, I’d love to talk with him about it.
Thanks for the comments, even if I don’t understand the need for the insulting address.

1 01 2011

No kidding? I seen this fly a couple of years ago in a book. It’s really cool to learn that you are the original creator. I’ll have to get a couple of these Owl caddis in my box for sure! Thanks for sharing the patten. ya know there are alot of tyers not willing to give up a pattern like this.
Question though before I get started on them,
what kind of hackle do you call High quality? and does the elk hair ever get in the way of the hook set?

2 01 2011
Owl Jones

Uh oh. Did they tie it the same? I just created this thing a month ago. I’ve seen flies tied in the reverse, hook eye to the tail – but never I’d never run across a caddis tied upside down? I suppose if it’s already been done I can’t exactly call it “new.” 😉 I consider “high quality” hackle to be Whiting Silver, but there are very nice hackle in Whiting Bronze packs too, so at times you can get a dense enough barb count in those to make it work well. Even tying them with a low-quality hackle would work, although I doubt they would float as well or as long with any hackle that was a lower grade than a Whiting bronze grade. As for the hook-set, I haven’t found that to be the case. Your mileage may vary. ?

2 01 2011

Owl – just wanted to drop by and wish you a Happy New Year in 2011. I’m not sure what 2011 will bring, but I guarantee that by following your blog, it won’t be boring!!


2 01 2011
Owl Jones

Thank you Wolfy! A great 2011 to you too! 🙂 I’ll send you that $5 for the mention on your blog! If I give you $10 can I get my name hyper-linked? 🙂 LOL I have a resolution similar to one of yours: to fish with at least 3 people from OBN! The reality of that resolution is that it would have sounded too far fetched to say I wanted to fish with every single blogger involved with OBN, but that’s actually closer to the truth! There are so many great folks on OBN!

2 01 2011

I’ve seen many ties with the hook reversed, but never a caddis. I think this is going to be added to my fly box. I’ll call it Owl’s Reverse hook caddis tater.

2 01 2011
Owl Jones

I’ve seen “reversed hackle” flies, with the hackle of a mayfly at the hook bend, but not an upside down trout dry fly where the hook rides upright. I’m not even sure you could even tie a March Brown “hook up” that wouldn’t cant to the side. Not that a sideways cant would matter to the trout where I fish; the bumpy and ruffled water in our fast-flowing freestone streams. If you call it tater, it will be embarrassed and refuse to catch a fish. 😉

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