Fly Patterns - Bill's October Bandit

                       Bill's October Bandit



The October Caddis hatch and GBF’s Upper Sac outing - a marriage made in heaven - are imminent. So, members attending the outing need to be armed and dangerous with good, workhorse fly patterns. Over time, I have developed a series of five deadly flies for the various life stages of that marvelous insect, the Giant October Caddis, aka Dicosmoecus. You can find these patterns on my web site at:


One of these patterns is Bill’s Big Fish Fly (see also GBF’s web site, “Fly Pattern Archives,” January, 2009). This fly is beyond effective for October Caddis adults when the fish are keying on them; in fact, it should be forever banned for engaging in serious misconduct. Still, for many tyers, the Big Fish Fly is a bit complicated to tie. So, let’s look at some alternatives.


There are, of course, other patterns that work as October Caddis adults - the hallowed Stimulator is just one good example. But I’ve never found one that rivals the Big Fish Fly - until, that is, I designed the October Bandit. Don’t get me wrong - I’ll never abandon the BFF. I just want to offer an alternative that will bring fish to the surface with vengeance in their hearts, yet is simple and quick to tie.


So I began with the ultra-simple Shambles Caddis, featured in the July, 2009 Leader (see “Fly Pattern Archives” on GBF’s web site). Since then, Shambles has undergone some minor modifications and I’ve settled on a favorite color and size: lime green, #16. For the seven main streams of the Middle Fork American drainage, I don’t use any other dry fly; the same goes for the North Yuba.  In other words, it has undergone a lot of field testing. So, why not use it as the basis for an October Caddis adult? Duh! And so the October Bandit came into being. I tie them with two different body materials: October Caddis orange dubbing and orange closed-cell foam. For this month’s fly, we will use dubbing.

Tying Instructions

1.       Smash the hook barb and place the hook in your vise. Cover the hook with thread back to the hook bend.

2.       Cut, clean, and stack a small bunch of medium dun deer hair. Choose hair that is of medium texture; in other words, don’t use hair that is suitable for spinning as it is too hollow, or hair that is too fine and won’t flare at all. We want hair that will flare some, but not too much.

3.       Measure the tail hair to about 1/3 of the length of the shank. Tie it in securely at the hook bend (see photo for detail). Place a drop of super glue on the tied-down butts.

4.       At the same tie-in point, tie in a piece of gold wire for ribbing and a properly sized saddle hackle. The hackle barbules should approximate the size of the hook gape.






5.       Form a dubbing loop and dub the abdomen with a taper, larger to the front. End the dubbing at the point where the thorax will begin and the wing will be tied in, which is about one third shank length behind the hook eye. Do not use excessive amounts of dubbing—even synthetic dubbing will hold water—and be sure to leave the front third of the hook open as we will need the room for a proper wing.

6.       Rib the abdomen with the gold wire, and tie it off at the front end of the abdomen. Wrap the hackle forward, using 5 or 6 turns, and tie it down at the same spot.

7.       Turn the fly upside down and carefully trim out the hackle on the bottom. It serves no purpose whatsoever; since natural bugs ride in the surface film and not above it, the underside hackle would preclude the natural appearance and generates a lot of refusals (boils that appear to be takes but in reality are caused by fish turning away at the last moment).



8.       Be sure that the front third of the hook is open and covered with thread to provide a good base for the wing. Cut, clean, and stack a robust bunch of hair; measure it so that the wing will reach to the middle of the tail. Tie the wing in securely in the middle of the front third of the hook, being sure to keep all of the hair on top.

9.       Trim the butts of the hair so that you leave a small head, similar to an Elk Hair Caddis. Add a drop of super glue to the wing tie-in point.

10.   Add a small amount of dubbing at the base of the wing to represent the thorax, and bring the thread to the eye of the hook. Form a small, neat head there and whip finish.



Tying Tips

1.       You can substitute closed cell foam for the dubbing for the abdomen. If you choose to do this, cut a two inch strip of foam that is about 1/8 “ at one end and 3/16” at the other end. Tie the narrow end in at the same place that the tail is tied in, and wrap it forward to the same 1/3 point on the shank.


2.       One of the things I have learned about the October Caddis hatch is that during late September and most of October, the fish key on the larvae and emerging stages. Yes, you will catch some trout on the adult fly during this period, but you will catch far more if you stick with subsurface patterns. In late October and on into November and December, as the weather becomes cold, rainy, and snowy, you can fish adults most of the day with success.


Tie up a few of these for the October Caddis hatch, and…




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