The sand caddis, like many of the most effective nymphal imitations, is more of a suggestive fly than an exact imitation of a specific insect. Originally tied to imitate the larval form of the casemaking caddis such as those of the Odonticeridae and the Goeridae families; it has become one of my most effective searching patterns for fishing moderate to fast flowing runs, especially during the winter and early spring months. I can recall a particularly successful day I had last year on the Musconetcon River.
It had snowed quite heavily the week before and the ground was still covered with ten inches of fresh snow. The mercury held at the 30 degree mark and the secondary roads were still quite hazardous. I decided to do the smart thing, I got in my car and headed toward the "Musky" instead of making an excursion to Pennsy or the Catskills. When I arrived at the stream, I was delighted to find it in excellent condition. The water was a little high and running clear, perfect for mid-winter nymphing. I decided to start at the Powerline Pool.
These types of conditions call for a long, yet sensitive rod. I decided on an eight and one half foot graphite rod for a number five line. I tied a fresh tippet to the nine foot, 5x leader and added a short dropper two feet above the leader point. To the dropper, I tied on a size 14 Musky Shrimp and to the tippet point, I tied a size 12 Ginger Sand Caddis. I also added three size B split shot to various points along the leader.
The water felt cold as I cautiously entered the stream. Ice extended about eight feet out from the far bank. I crossed the stream and climbed out onto the ice. It was surprisingly thick, easily supporting my weight. My first cast fell close to the edge of the ice and I had to mend my line continuously to pre vent the leader from catching on its jagged edges. I extended each consecutive cast a foot further than the previous one, slowly covering all of the water within easy reach.
I could feel the split shots bouncing along the stream bed through the sensitive rod tip and I attentively watched my nail k, for any signs of a strike. The line hesitated, almost imperceptibly, and I set the hook. The fish reacted with a short but powerful run upstream but I maintained pressure from below and he tired quickly. I slid the trout up onto the ice. It was a beautiful, full-bodied brown of 14 inches and I quickly removed the hook and released him.
I landed a dozen trout that afternoon, many of them fat, hold-over browns and rainbows from the early spring stockings. It was an afternoon filled with excitement and more importantly filled with lessons on the importance of the Sand Caddis and the dead drift, bottom bouncing nymphing technique.
Ginger Sand Caddis
Hook: 9671 size 12 to 16
While tying this fly remember that it is intended to imitate the cased caddis and should therefore be tied with a robust body. When the fly is completed, tease the fur with a dubbing needle to give the fly a bugger silhouette.