On My Vise:”New Year, New Me?” How about I just stick with a new tutorial to an old technique! 😂 The LaFontaine Cased Caddis 

It’s 2017!

How does that old saying go?

“New Year, New me”?

Well I’ll tell you what.. Seeing as though I won’t be whipping up any resolutions for consuming less bacon or coffee, and will more than likely just spend the rest of the new year, as usual, crossing out 2016 on everything I write because it’s now 2017.. 😂

What I do know, is that there’s never a bad time to try a new technique in regards to fly tying.

A few weeks back I posted a fly pattern for the LaFontaine Deep Sparkle Pupae, and after going through some tips to palmer hackle on a fly such as the wooly bugger, I decided that there’s no better way to start the new year than with a technique that may have been forgotten in these new times.

Keep in mind this is not an exact replica of the traditional LaFontaine cased caddis, this is just the way I enojy to tie it. I use a little bit of a shorter shank and I don’t make the bend as pronounced.

But if you haven’t nabbed a copy of his book “Caddisflies” you should grab one! For me I also find it very interesting to read two books simultaneously on the same topic, which were published years apart, so as to compare and contrast information.

In this case I had read been reading LaFontaines book which was published in 1989 at the same time I was reading Caddisflies – A Guide to Eastern Species for Anglers and other Naturalists” written by Thomas Ames Jr.that was published in 2008

LaFontaine Cased Caddis

Lafontaine Cased Caddis

(You will need a small pair of pliers as well)

Thread: Brown or Black

Hook: Here I used a Partridge H1A in a size 8 because im tying this in a larger size (but any 2xl nymph hook will work) The size you use will depend on where you live and the caddis that are in your rivers

Underbody: Lead or Lead substitute

Body/Case: Two oversized Hebert Miner Hen Saddle feathers, that are long enough to extend across the entire length of the hook shank

Dubbing: Tan Hares mix brushed out

Legs: The clippings from trimming the hackle or if you don’t have enough, just pull them off another feather


Be sure the feathers are long enough to continue up the hook shank.

Be sure the hen feathers you use are long enough to reach when wrapped from one end to the other.

Now affix that hook in the vise and lets begin!

Take a pair of needle nose pliers and grab the hook about 1/3 of the way from the eye, and bend it up carefully.

Be sure not to grab the hook eye while doing this, or it may warp it depending on your hook.

What you are looking for is a pronounced upward bend in the hook, some tyers like it more than this but for me, this is enough.

Caddisflies are usually found lower in the water column, crawling across rocks like hermit crabs. But without a little lead, these flies just arent going to get down to where the fish are.

So add some weight to that fly!

Position the lead/non lead in the middle of the hook shank right before the bend and take about 10 or so wraps. You can also add a little head cement here before continuing.

Be sure to create smooth slopes up and down the ends of the lead wraps to create a uniform underbody.

If you realize that you need a little help in creating a uniform underbody, take a look at a previous post here on creating a uniform underbody, there are a few tips and tricks in there. 

It will open in a  new window so that you can continue uninterrupted.

Remember, smooth out that underbody at the lead ends!
Remember, smooth out that underbody at the cut lead ends!


 There wont be anything under the hackle wrapped body so be sure to cover the lead completely.

(Would be nice if I took my own advice last night, seeing as though when I was finished I could see the lead through the feathers in one or two spots.)


Hackle Selection

Next up, grab a hen saddle. I prefer these Whiting – Hebert Miner Hen Saddles since the feathers are great for larger flies and don’t break the bank. Whatever saddle you go with just be sure the length will cover the hook shank.

Wild type brown is my favorite color!
Where you want to look for the feathers for this fly (especially when tied in the largest size) you will more than likely find at the end of the saddle.

Take a look at those longer feathers at the end of a hen saddle. Many of them are great for Matuka flies, bass and trout streamers, ect.


These look great right? Then skip them.😂😂😂

Save those for a fly where the end of the feather actually matters in appearance, that is why this pattern and technique is great for using up lots of feathers that had been damaged from being tossed around the bench, or pulled in and out of the package.

You will need two feathers for this fly.

See the ends of these two?

Oh Yeah..they look like they had a rough night on New Years Eve. These will do 😂

Heres another thing to keep in mind for reference when selecting a feather, the hook I am tying on is probably a 6 or an 8 and feathers this size, JUST made it to the end.

Once you have decided on your feathers, take them over to your hook and eyeball the length to make sure the fibers are at least as long.. as the hook gap is wide, because we are going to trim them.


The biggest thing is to make sure, is that they are long enough to reach the entire 3/4 length of The hook. Depending on what size hook you are using and if you prefer a 2xL or 3xL you may want to just grab the biggest feather you have at the end of the saddle for your first attempt, and from there you can get an idea on what will work.

As with almost all feathers tied in at the base, you will want to prep the feather.

See all this white fluff?

Pinch it between your fingers and strip it from either side of the stem.

But wait!

Save this!

Don’t throw that out just yet, I will show you on a later date what you can do with all this fluff that is accumulating on your bench, so start making a pile and give me about a week or two! 😂

Take those two feathers you stripped and tie them in together at the hook base, across from the Barb

(this is also where you can decide if you want to add a very thin piece of wire to hold the feathers in as you would a wooly bugger or go without) I personally do not.

Tie them in and cover the waste ends

*You can cut the stem ends off, I prefer to leave them on to prevent the feather from slipping when palmered and USUALLY I tie them in on either SIDE of the hook so that it doesn’t deform the body… (another post we will get to in the future) but alas.. last night too much caffeine got in the way.

Mistakes were made..

Once you have tied those in loosely, what you want to do is pull them back a little bit to be sure you have left enough space, for when you wrap them forward.

If you need to test this out all you need to do is lift the two feathers to make sure that there’s at the tiniest bit of bare stem space for when you wrap forward
Secure the waste ends and bring your thread to the front.

Palmering the Hackle

Grab one feather..
and begin to wrap away from you.. then under the hook towards you..
Now back up.


You will repeat this over and over again, all the way to the front where the thread stops.

Each time you bring that hackle up, carefully brush those fiber back with your fingers before taking the next wrap. This will help to keep them from tangling.

*Where I stop on mine may differ a little bit from yours, but what you want as an end result is to stop the feather halfway up that bent shank.

Keep wrapping…

Space the wraps out a little.


You’re only wrapping one feather right now, so getting every spot totally filled isn’t what you are trying to accomplish at this point. Which is why the best way to do this, is to leave a small gap in between each wrap, because the next feather is going to fill those in.

Keep going…
Tie it off!

See what I mean about sizing? That long feather made it just to where I needed it.

Looks good doesn’t it? 😂😂

Now before you grab that second feather and do the same thing, I recommend a quick half hitch or one turn whip finish. That will secure the first feather in the event that anything slips.

You will now do the same thing with the second feather, except this time you are going to put that one in the spaces between the hackle.

Look closely…

See right there? That empty spot? Don’t worry about it!

Bring your feather over the hook and away from you and put it right into that gap, then continue wrapping all the way forward.

Keep going…

Also remember it with every wrap forward, stop at the top before the next, and brush those fibers back gently with your fingers.

If they are not brushing back, then you just have to loosen your grip a littttttttle bit on the feather itself that you are wrapping, and those stuck fibers will come loose.

Wow.. just wow 😂😂

ahhahahhah Looks great doesn’t it?

Bare with me because were about to get to the fun part!

Once again add a quick half hitch or one turn whip finish before continuing.

Trimming the hackle

My hair looks like this every morning.

Spin the fly around a few times in your vise and gently brush out any stuck fibers with your fingers.

Then come back and position your hook before trimming.

Time for a haircut.

When it comes to trimming this fly (Case or no case, what you are trying to achieve is a tapered body). Below we see a tan caddis that I had uncased, which is why tying this fly with a tan feather in stead of dark brown is just a effective!

Tapered body of an uncased caddis
Tapered body of an uncased caddis

Here we go!

Grab a pair of scissors, use your fingers to brush the fibers straight up and remember you want to cut on an angle.

First cut

Almost like a reverse mullet, you know:  “business up front party in the back” 😂😂😂

Then Rotate your vise and repeat.

Brush fibers up, cut on an angle.

Rotate and Repeat.

Rotate and cut…

Each time you spin your vise and cut, brush all of the fibers upward before you trim.

Then keep trimming on the same angle.

Continue this Until you have a rough tapered body, later it will be fine tuned.


Leave those hackle clippings in a pile where they fell on your desk because you’re going to use a pinch of those for the legs.

Now Grab some dubbing and dub right in front of the tied off feather.

Hare’s Ear Plus works well because you can rough it up a little with a dubbing brush.
Once you have dubbed its time to add the legs!

Grab a pinch of those fibers that you cut off earlier from the hackle you wrapped and tie them in underneath the hook eye.

(If you don’t have any left over that are long enough its OK, just grab a feather and pull a pinch off)

The look you are trying to achieve (in case you need a visual)..is something along the lines of this friendly face!

Rawr! hahaha See the legs as hes coming out of the case i picked up?

Tie them in like that.

Tie those in loosely : flipping your vise over makes this a little bit easier.

Once they are loosely tied in, you want to spread them out a little bit, so hold them with one hand and wiggle them to spread them out with the other.

They should almost make a beard underneath the body.
Once you have finished you can clip the excess, create a head and cut off the thread.

Almost done!

Now all you have to do is to take your scissors and fine tune the body to the shape you are looking for.

Before trimming.
LaFontaine Cased caddis, Trimmed and ready to go!
LaFontaine Cased Caddis

I hope this tutorial helps you to experiment with something new and will allow you to use up some of those larger feathers, that you weren’t sure what to do with.

Happy new year and lets hope 2017 brings us all a little more time on the water and also time behind the vise!

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