The Z-Wing Caddis comes from the vise of the illustrious Mike Mercer. This little bead head caddis pupae pattern makes a great dropper under a dry and draws strikes all the way through the water column. I like this pattern for its ease of tying and the simple material list. This is a killer in a size 18 or 20 and is so simple that even in small sizes it’s still an easy tie. Color options run the gamut, but mint green, olive and cream/tan are all favorites. Go tie.
Hook: TMC 2457 or 2487 #12-20
Bead: Copper colored brass or tungsten, sized to hook
Thread: UNI 8/0 or 10/0 Olive
Rib: Chartreuse wire or 3/0 tying thread
Shellback: Turkey Tail Quill
Abdomen: Antron Dubbing, mint in color
Wingstubs: Ginger Z-Lon
Head: Peacock Herl
Place bead on the hook and start the thread behind it. Wrap a thread base from the seventy-five percent point to about halfway down the bend and back again.
Tie in a six-inch length of wire for the rib at the 75% point on the FAR SIDE of the hook.
Wrap back over the wire with the tying thread to the end of the thread base and return the thread back to the front. Make sure to keep the wire along the far side of the hook as you wrap back over it.
Cut a slip from the turkey tail quill that is, at its tip, about half as wide as the hook gap.
Cut the tip of the quill slip square across and tie it in with the inside of the feather facing up at the center of the shank with one or two turns of thread. Try to get the slip to buckle around the hook shank, rather than roll up into a bundle on top of the hook.
Pull the butt end of the feather to shorten the tip down to length. You want to use the natural taper of the feather slip to create the tapered shell back, so bring the tip all the way back to the thread.
Wrap back over the quill slip to the bend of the hook. Return the thread to the front once more.
Dub a tapered abdomen with the Antron dubbing from the bend of the hook to the seventy-five percent point.
Pull the turkey slip forward over the top of the dubbed abdomen, but keep it a little to the near side of the hook. Don’t pull the slip too tight, youll need a little slack in it when you rib. Just a little slack…
Tie the quill slip down at the front of the abdomen. Again, try to keep the slip slightly off-center toward the near side for the time being.
Spiral wrap the ribbing in evenly spaced turns over the quill slip. When you do this, the rib will pull the quill slip to top dead center on the body. If we hadn’t tied the slip in off-center, it would now be pushed to the far side rather than the top. Tricky…
Clip the stub end of the wire and the turkey slip off flush. Try to keep the slip from splitting like this one did. You could coat the feather with Flexament beforehand, but it really doesn’t matter to the fish.
Separate a strand of Z-Lon so you have about two-thirds of a strand that is about two inches long. Tie the Z-Lon in at the front of the body at the center of its length, with one side of the strand pointing back along the body on the far side.
Pull the other end of the Z-Lon strand back along the near side and secure it in place with a few more wraps of thread.
Select a bundle of peacock herl and trim the tips so they are even. Tie the peacock in by the tips at the back edge of the bead. Make several wraps of thread to build up a bit of bulk behind the bead.
Wrap the peacock forward with three or four turns and tie it off behind the bead. Clip the excess peacock.
Whip finish the thread right behind the bead and trim the thread.
Trim the wingstubs at about the halfway point on the hook shank.
Finished Fly, top view. Note the angle of the wingstubs and the taper of the body.
Finished fly, bottom view. Notice the two-tone effect created by the lighter dubbing and the turkey slip shellback.
Finished fly, side view.