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The Specimen

Brachycentrus appalachia (Apple Caddis) Caddisfly AdultBrachycentrus appalachia (Apple Caddis) Caddisfly Adult View 13 PicturesI captured this specimen in the same color as this photograph, during its egg-laying flight. The emergers are much lighter.
Collected May 13, 2007 from the West Branch of the Delaware River in New York
Added to Troutnut.com by on May 18, 2007

The Discussion

ReifyJuly 7th, 2007, 5:17 am
Easton, Pennsylvania

Posts: 8
I read a nice article on black caddis swarming/ mating and it mentioned that one oof the few times a trout will readily hit black caddis on the surface is when a coupled mating pair fail to rise from the swarm and fall onto the surface; there's apparently 20 seconds or so before they can separate and they are vulnerable to trout - and trout know it and look for coupled black caddis under/ down stream from swarms. The author went on to say that patterns mimicking that situatuion were very successful, as are good black caddis emerger patterns. What he didn't give were the patterns he uses or the position the male and female would likely be in during coupling so that the reader may know where/ how to position the male and female for such a pattern. It's a tough enough matter to tie a paired insect pattern without knowing the orientation; does anyone have a clue about this? It could very well be that orientation doesn't matter since the pair apparently struggle violently to separate and get back aloft, so maybe any willy-nilly way a tier manages to construct a mock-pair of copulating black caddis on a single; or maybe better two hooks will suffice.

Our black caddis population where I fish is growing very fast over the years and they are on the water almost the whole season; the emerger works great in mid to late afternoon,and I've got several good working patterns for it. But when the swarm forms, the only trout feeding on adults are ones leaping to grab the fluttering swarm members (males) or random egglayers (females) and imitating them is, of course futile. If the female fell into the drink after ovipositing, that would be nice, we'd have a different situation, where trout would feed on fallen females; but the females don't do that, rather, they fly off to the trees or meadows along the stream and die there.

If, like this author claims, trout key on struggling coupled mating pairs, a good pattern would be nice to have. Any ideas on how to do this will be welcome.
Shawnny3July 7th, 2007, 6:02 am
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
I don't know the answer to your question about positions (I have a tough enough time with the simplest ones), but I wouldn't be surprised if someone on here does. Once you've developed a pattern, though, it could make for some funny interactions on the stream.

Passerby: Hey, buddy, what are you catching all those fish on?

You: A F---ing Black Caddis.

Passerby: Easy - nothing to get pissed off about. Sorry for asking.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
TaxonJuly 7th, 2007, 7:00 am
Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1337
Reify-

Here is a mating pair of Macrostermum zebratum. Boy, I sure hope Louis doesn't see this post, or I'll never hear the end of it.

Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
GONZOJuly 7th, 2007, 9:05 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Dave (Reify),
Welcome to the site, and thanks for adding the info about "black caddis." Those observations are very interesting, but I'm a bit puzzled by a few things:

First, your other post (under "Does anyone have success fishing this hatch?") mentions the Riverkeeper observation that males "carry" the females from the swarm. Most caddisflies mate on land or some surface, and I'm having a hard time seeing how the males could fly and carry the females in the traditional caddisfly mating position (as depicted in Roger's alder/zebra photo). If some fall out of the swarm connected, I suspect that the "carrying" position is something other than the mating position--probably with both flies facing the same direction and held by the legs of the male, but this is just a guess.

Second, your account of black caddis throughout most of the season on your local waters doesn't sound like it can be attributable to Mystacides alone. Dolophilodes is another "black caddis" that is a season-long emerger and is very common. Or, perhaps you are seeing a sequence of several "black caddis," like Chimarra/Dolophilodes/Mystacides (with perhaps Glossosoma and dark brachycentrids like Micrasema or B. nigrosoma thrown in). Many of these "black caddis" adults appear similar from a distance and are within about 6-9mm, but they have very diverse emergence and mating habits. Are you sure this activity is all Mystacides?

PS--Hilarious, Shawn. I loved it! Roger, you're overdue for a little teasing by Louis, and perhaps it will take the heat off of me for a bit. (I'm exhausted from trying to keep my end up!) :)

PPS--Dave, your observation that the black caddis were on the increase on your streams also raised some questions. On a favorite Pocono stream, I've noted a strong increase in Dolophilodes and a concurrent decrease in some mayfly species. Dolophilodes larvae are fine-net filter feeders, and I suspect (though I'm not sure) that recent increases in organic nutrients (crap, in this case) may have something to do with what I'm seeing. I wonder if something similar is happening on your streams.
ReifyJuly 8th, 2007, 4:30 am
Easton, Pennsylvania

Posts: 8
Gonzo - Yeah - I'll have to re-read the passage; he was unclear as to the carrying phenomenon, but he did say that the attraction to feeding trout was the struggle on the surface to uncouple - which, as you say doesn't work, because caddis mating does take place on land, as far as I know. Also, I'm not an entomologist/ taxonomic ace as apparently several contributors to this sight are - and I'm duly impressed by it, believe me...but you're exactly right - there could be several species involved in this ever-growing hatch. I'm recently retired and may have the time to due more studying - might even carry a few lenses out to the creek, so this issue may be resolved eventually. Overall, what would be your opimion on a pattern meant to mime the ascending blacks caddis pairs - whatever their species? Is there a known carrying position for whomever carries whom by whichever appendage? Maybe we can test the theory by simply closing the barb on one black caddis adult and push it through the eye of a second (regulations on two-hook patterns permitting.

PS Hey, Taxon - Whew! I'd say Taxon's the correct handle for you, good sir!

PS Hey, Shawnny3 - I hope you're this amusing all the time; are you an author, by the way? Hey, and don't forget that classic pattern, the "Fore and Aft" - isn't that meant to copy copulating (huh!) craneflies?
MartinlfJuly 8th, 2007, 5:47 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3173
I fear that there's no way to better Shawn's brilliant joke here, so I won't even begin to start commenting on those F--ing Caddis. No, Gonzo, you don't get off so lightly by pointing me towards poor innocent Taxon, who is just trying to be helpful. You're only hope is that JW will find another misplaced modifier in one of my posts and fully engage me. Or that I'll go fishing.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
ReifyJuly 9th, 2007, 4:27 pm
Easton, Pennsylvania

Posts: 8
I have another "Black Caddis" question, this one about emergers. Is it correct that at least some species have and orangish (I guess that's a word)abdomen? A local fellow says that he fishes an orange and black(ish)emerger pattern and it's a killer. I also recall a nice old wet fly pattern called the Orange Fish Hawk, which had an orange body and soft grizzly hackle collar - and guys used to praise the pattern back in the 60's; I wonder if it mimed the black caddis emerger. Anyone have any ideas on the 'orangish' body of the "black caddae" and/ or of the good ol' Orange Fish Hawk? Incidently, I don't see the Orange Fish Hawk on any current pattern collections online. My recollection of the OFH and other old patterns cause me to think I'm aging more rapidly than I'd choose; and...if no one responds to this at all...I might just start drinking heavily...well, I might just start drinking heavily anyway, dammit!
TaxonJuly 9th, 2007, 7:22 pm
Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1337
Reify-

If you Google "Orange Fish Hawk" in quotes you'll find four pages of links, some even including a picture and/or recipe.

However, I would not expect there to be an orange-bodied caddisfly called a Black Caddis, but there are certainly orange-bodied caddisfly pupae with other common names.

Hopefully, this information will serve to ward off (at least) the option you mention, should no one respond to your post.
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
MartinlfJuly 10th, 2007, 2:39 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3173
I believe that Charlie Meck has stated that one black caddis, the Chimarra I believe, has an orange larva, pupa, or perhaps both. The bug experts can comment on whether or not this is correct.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
TaxonJuly 10th, 2007, 4:40 pm
Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1337
Louis-

The only Charles Meck book I have, Hatches Made Simple, doesn't discuss Chimarra. However, I did notice that, in his book Caddisflies, Gary LaFontaine recomends either a Black Deep Sparkle Pupa or Black Emergent Sparkle Pupa in sizes #16 - #20 as a pupal imitation for Chimarra.

On the other hand, Jason shows this Chimarra larva, which I would describe as being sort of medium orangish yellow, so I suppose the pupa may of similar color.
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
MartinlfJuly 11th, 2007, 5:13 am
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3173
Ah yes, I had seen Jason's photos and had forgotten. Meck recommends tying an orange fly for these bugs and reports it working well in streams with good populations. He suggests a simple fly with orange yarn wrapped on the hook and, I believe, a wire rib.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Shawnny3July 14th, 2007, 2:05 pm
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Finally back from a week in the Poconos. Good to see this resilient board has again survived one of my (unintentional) attempts to render it completely irrelevant. Well done, gentlemen.

Reify, I only use wit to disguise my inability to contribute anything valuable to the discussion. It's pretty transparent, really. If anyone finds in my posts a bit of respite from the technical, then I feel I've done my part. I'm flattered by your suggestion that I write something for the masses. I have actually thought of doing some writing, but I'm at least 20 years from making any contribution to flyfishing meaningful enough to write a book about. For now I'm content to inflict my opinions upon those poor, unsuspecting souls who frequent Jason's site. And for that I'm unapologetic - most of them, as this thread well demonstrates, fully deserve whatever they get.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
GONZOJuly 15th, 2007, 8:56 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Dave,

I'm not sure I can offer an opinion about the potential effectiveness of a "F---ing Black Caddis" pattern without knowing which black caddis genus/species Riverkeeper was referring to. I had assumed it might be Mystacides because it seems unlikely to pertain to either Dolophilodes or Chimarra. If that is the case, his observations might offer another approach to coping with the mating swarms of the "black dancer." Although I've observed and attempted to solve the puzzle of Mystacides mating swarms many times, I can't say that I've ever noticed connected mates falling out of the swarm. Most of the feeding I've observed has been the frustrating aerial variety. As for a suggested "carrying" position, my speculation in the previous post is the best I can offer at this time.

With regard to your questions about the venerable Orange Fish Hawk and its potential connection to black caddis, that is a great old pattern, but the only black caddis application for PA streams would be to suggest the Dolophilodes/Chimarra larvae. These are very similar little net-spinning larvae (difficult to distinguish with the naked eye) and are yellowish to yellowish orange. The pupae of common PA species are usually blackish brown. In Nymphs, Ernie Schwiebert does describe an "orange-bodied" Chimarra species that he calls augustipennis. (In his illustrations, both the larva and pupa appear yellowish.) I'm uncertain about the validity of his depictions (both are morphologically inaccurate), but this species is not listed for PA.


You're only hope is that JW will find another misplaced modifier in one of my posts and fully engage me.

Louis, does inadvertently substituting a contracted homonym for a possessive pronoun count? If so, I'll contact JW forthwith. :)
TaxonJuly 15th, 2007, 10:41 am
Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1337
Gonzo-

In Nymphs, Ernie Schwiebert does describe an "orange-bodied" Chimarra species that he calls augustipennis. (In his illustrations, both the larva and pupa appear yellowish.) I'm uncertain about the validity of his depictions (both are morphologically inaccurate), but this species is not listed for PA.


What exactly was it that you noticed morphographically inaccurate about Ernie Schwiebert's Chimarrha (sic) augustipennis larval and pupal illustrations. Both are so small, even though perhaps 4x the small naturals, that subtle morphographic keys customarily used to identify Chimarra are not possible to be depicted in the illustrations. So, I'm guessing the morphographical inaccuracy to which you refer may be something more gross, like head capsule not being sufficiently angled or failure to portray terminal proleg hook, etc. Please help me out here, as this is one of the primary ways I aquire additional knowledge and understanding.
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
GONZOJuly 15th, 2007, 11:24 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Roger,
As much as I am greatly indebted to Ernie and love his Nymphs in particular, many of his illustrations are obviously inaccurate (and some of his taxonomy remains mysterious). With regard to the augustipennis illustrations, the depicted larva has two additional darkened plates behind the head, unlike the natural, and the depicted pupa has a curious extra wingcase (at least that's what it looks like) projecting near the head, as well as an extra set of antennae. All of his pupal caddisfly illustrations have these peculiar additions, and many of the larval illustrations have the plates behind the head depicted inaccurately (see his illustrations of Rhyacophila larvae, for example). The uniformity with which he depicts caddisfly pupae suggests that he used a single (inaccurate) template for all and primarily changed color/markings. Notice that all of the legs and bodies are shown as similarly "hairy." The prominence of gills on certain species and the relative absence on others is thus not depicted accurately, and the legs are likewise not really representative.
MartinlfJuly 15th, 2007, 3:48 pm
Moderator
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3173

Gonzo, you are asking for it. John W is now on safe ground and my crosshairs are refocused on a certain Pocono fisherman. Caveat.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Shawnny3July 15th, 2007, 5:30 pm
Moderator
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Nice one, Gonzo. Louis, you have some catching up to do. Should be fun to watch.

-Shawn
Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
www.davisflydesigns.com
GONZOJuly 15th, 2007, 7:12 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Great, so now I have one friend egging another on, JW is off the hook, and Roger has become "poor innocent Taxon." (!) Oh well . . . .

By the way, I just got back from fishing with Shawn in the Poconos. Despite his modest disclaimer about having nothing of value to share, he showed me a simple and very clever version of a sinking inchworm that he had devised. He then proceeded to demonstrate its effectiveness by casting it to an absolutely perfect location and nailing several wild browns in a row. That's one pattern I'll happily steal, Shawn. Thanks!
TaxonJuly 15th, 2007, 7:52 pm
Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1337
Gonzo-

Perhaps I can take a little heat off you by temporarily distracting Louis. Although, maybe not, as this time I am unable to throw in unmentionable body parts or the functions thereof.

Anyway, please allow me to expand a bit on your following comment:

Roger,
As much as I am greatly indebted to Ernie and love his Nymphs in particular, many of his illustrations are obviously inaccurate (and some of his taxonomy remains mysterious). With regard to the augustipennis illustrations, the depicted larva has two additional darkened plates behind the head


I performed a couple of Photoshop exercises to allow side-by-side comparison of both the Chimarra augustipennis larva illustration from Ernest Schwiebert's book, Nymphs, and the Chimarra larva illustration from Gary LaFontaine's book, Caddisflies, to a macro photo of a Chimarra larva from troutnut.com by Jason Neuswanger. Having gone to that work, I thought it might be interesting to share here.




Neither illustration strikes me as being morphologically accurate. It seems to me that Schwiebert did better job of capturing the overall body form, and LaFontaine certainly did a better job of portraying only the pronotum as being sclerotized. It sure makes one appreciate the availability of Jason's extraordinary macro photography.
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
GONZOJuly 15th, 2007, 8:17 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Amen, Roger. And that's a really cool comparison. My own experience with illustration makes me appreciate the enormous (and probably impossible) task that Schwiebert set for himself, and my critique is tempered with respect for everything he achieved. (And I have a theory about how his illustrations of caddisfly pupae got anatomically misconstrued.) By the way, what, if anything, do you make of the stonefly species he describes in Nymphs as Acroneuria nigrita?

PS--Anything you can do to deflect the Prof's retribution will be greatly appreciated! :)
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