Fly Patterns - Micro Caddis Fuzzball

                     Micro Caddis Fuzzball



If you’ve spent a lot of time prowling around trout streams, you’ll have noticed frustratingly tiny caddis adults bouncing about, particularly in the evenings—and I do mean T-I-N-Y, as in size 20 or smaller (down to 24). Here’s what noted entomologist Rick Haefle has to say about these miniscule beasts: “Adult emergence can begin as early as June for a number of species, but peak activity generally occurs in July and August with many species continuing hatch activity into September. Because of their small size emergence activity goes unnoticed by most anglers. The best place to spot adults is on shoreline vegetation or boulders, where they run and flit with a nervous energy. When adults are observed along the stream and fish seem to be rising to some mysterious, unseen surface food, start thinking micro-caddis patterns.


“The time of day emergence and egg laying activity takes place is not well documented for most species. In general mid-afternoon to evening is the best time to look for them on the water and available to fish. I have found it difficult to tell if fish are taking pupae rising to the surface or adults returning to lay eggs. In such cases I first try a pupa pattern. If that doesn’t work, I then put on an adult pattern. The type of water one fishes for pupae or adults is the same; moderate riffles and runs or the slow gentle currents of weedy flats.” (See Rick’s full article at


Maybe because I’m contrarian by nature, I tend to fish tiny nymphs and pupae patterns during the hatch. If I don’t catch fish on these, then I’ll switch to an adult pattern. My go-to selection is what I call the “Micro-Caddis Fuzzball”. The name refers to its appearance on the water, at least to those of us who are a bit challenged in the distance vision category. The fly’s design is all about being able to see it—something—out there on the water. I’ll tie them as small as 22, but that’s where I draw the line (mainly because my tired eyes have a hard time focusing on anything smaller), using short shank scud-type light wire hooks because they have an increased gape for hooking purposes. Obviously one doesn’t get much material on a hook of that size—but that’s a good thing, because when tying small, the tyer must think “sparse, sparse, sparse.” In the “tips” section below I’ll provide some suggestions for improving your small-fly tying prowess. For now, let’s tackle a Fuzzball, using a size 20 hook.


Tying Instructions (Note: click Ctrl+ about 6 times to enlarge the webpage & see photo detail; Ctrl– 6 times to reduce size)

1. De-barb the hook, and cover the shank down to mid-bend with a single layer of thread. This is important in order to achieve a nice smooth tapered abdomen. Ugly underbody, ugly body—that’s the watchword.


2. Dub a sparse, tapered abdomen, leaving the front third of the hook open.




3. Lay two CDC feathers on the tying bench and place one over the top of the other, taking care that their curvature matches. Cut the hearts out of the two feathers and bunch up the tips.


4. At the front of the abdomen, tie in the bunched up CDC tips as an under-wing. The under-wing’s length should not extend beyond the bend of the hook.



5. Cut and thoroughly clean a small bunch of deer hair, and place the hair into a hair stacker to even up the tips. Measure the hair to the length of the under-wing and clip the butts, leaving a 1/16” butt remaining.


6. Tie in the deer hair wing just ahead of the CDC under-wing; don’t crowd the head as it will make finishing the fly very difficult. Be sure that the hair stays directly on top of the hook.


7. Once the deer hair wing is secure, push the butts upward and to the rear; this will create a nice head profile. Whip finish directly in front of the butts, and carefully place a tiny drop of super glue on the bottom of the head.



Tying & Fishing Tips

1. It is much easier to de-barb the hook at the vise than on the stream. If you drop the tiny hook at the bench you have a fighting chance to find it; not so if you drop your fly while on the stream either when you are trying to extract it from the fly box or while tying it on.


2. When dubbing the Fuzzball, use the tiniest pinch of dubbing that you can pull out. A good rule of thumb is to tease out a tiny amount and then cut it in half.


3. After using super glue to finish the fly, use a piece of fine copper wire to ream out the eye. It will be hard enough to tie a Fuzzball to your leader, but you’ll become totally frustrated if you discover the tiny eye clogged as you try to poke the leader into the eye.


Accept my challenge to tie a tiny critter; be patient and tie at least a half dozen and you’ll begin to get the hang of tying small.





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