October Caddis

october caddis
October caddis

by Scott Sadil

I recall selling a piece to Gray’s years ago, and then being told by the editor that even though he liked the story — liked it a lot — they weren’t going to use the fly recipe I included.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Oh, we don’t do that kind of thing here,” is how it was explained to me.  “We’re not that kind of magazine.”


Of course, I get it. Nobody comes to the pages of Gray’s to read, once more, about six new killer patterns for Montana’s blue-winged olive hatch.

I say that even though I’m someone who has written a column, elsewhere, about flies and fly tying for more than a decade now, and who should be grateful there are readers out there who enjoy this sort of informative, technical material. 

Spoiler alert: I am. I’m very grateful.

Still, I should probably also mention that a running theme in practically everything I’ve ever written, tactic- and technique-wise, about fly fishing is that your fly is the last thing that matters.

Which is only to say, the fly can only do so much.

Nevertheless, something happens each fall out here in the great Northwest that sends me scurrying to the vise, a goofy grin on my face as I imagine good trout making fools of themselves, rising to the surface to intercept the swing of the fly. 

Big bugs, big fish

In more fruitful years, many of these trout, Onkorhynchuss mykiss, would have been steelhead. But in my book any trout that takes a swinging surface pattern, especially a fly that’s waking, is a trout I can get interested in, especially when they eat the fly like a dog throwing itself headlong up in the air to grab a Frisbee.

Oh, wait – maybe a piece like this requires I maintain my professional cool.  I get that, too. I was once asked by a fledgling writer if I would take a look at an article he was ready to submit to a regional magazine that had accepted one of his stories already. After looking over the piece, I saw the guy later on the river. He asked me what I thought.

“You could probably go a little easier on the word ‘whammo,’” I said.

But I do like fishing during the fall or October Caddis hatch. Partly, of course, it’s the time of year, those last splendid days on the water before suddenly it’s a chore to brave river and weather alike.  And there’s always the notion, though I don’t know if it’s really true, that failing light and shorter days make trout feed more eagerly — a tempting thought when the first autumn storms begin to roll in off the Pacific. 

Northwest caddis country

Like a lot of other famed hatches, however, October Caddis are a hit or miss affair. If someone says you might run into them, the operative word is “might.” I have a friend from Florida who comes west each year and claims he’s never actually seen an October Caddis. On the other hand, if they’re supposed to be on a river you fish in fall, there’s no reason not to tie on your own take on the thing and send it out there and let it hunt. 

But that’s maybe a little more technical than I need be. All I’m really suggesting is that if you’re around, you don’t want to miss it.


Gray’s angling editor Scott Sadil likes the fact that when the season of a particular hatch ends, you have to make it through another year to see that hatch again.