A Fuzzy Nymph: The Ginger Caddis Larva

Ever heard of a guide fly? In case you haven’t, guide flies have two qualities: They can be tied quickly, and they are high-confidence fish magnets. The Ginger Caddis Larva is such a fly.

It’s one of those flies that, if you saw it in the bins at your local shop, you might not give it a second look. But the trout certainly will. Angora goat is one of my favorite tying materials. It takes on a translucency underwater, and the fibers trap miniature air bubbles much like an emerging or diving caddis might.

The Ginger Caddis Larva is a quintessential fuzzy nymph; I fish it as nymph, bouncing it along the bottom, then as a wet, letting the fly swing up toward the surface. I’ll also fish it as a straight wet in a team of three flies. If I don’t get a strike, I let the fly sit there at swing’s end.

This pattern lends itself to dozens of variations. Try it in Insect or Highlander Green. Get some black or brown Angora and make it a little stonefly. Add a soft hackle (like partridge). Give it a bead head. Swap out peacock herl for the hare’s ear thorax. You get the idea.

Back to the guide fly thing. Two years ago I passed this fly out at one of my wet fly classes. It was a slow day on the river, but what little action we saw came on this fly (we were fishing teams of three flies, so the trout had a choice). A few weeks later, I ran into one of my students outside the local fly shop. “Steve,” he says, “I need some more of those Ginger Caddis Larvas and I can’t find them anywhere.”

He bought every single Ginger Caddis I had in my box on the spot.


Hook: 2x strong, size 10-18
Weight: 8-12 turns undersized wire
Thread: Orange
Body: Ginger Angora goat, very spikey
Thorax: Dark hare’s ear

Tying notes: To make it spikey and rough, try chopping the hairs up with scissors and winding them on a dubbing loop. Angora goat has long, unruly fibers that become problematic on smaller flies, so the chopping remedies that. I use high tack wax with Angora, like Loon Swax. I like to underweight this fly. Underweighting doesn’t mean that you’re putting wire under the body – you are – but rather, it refers to using lead wire that is thinner than the diameter of the hook wire. The goal is to help the fly sink, not suck the life out of it.

16 comments on “A Fuzzy Nymph: The Ginger Caddis Larva

  1. stevegalea6953 says:

    I always appreciate a guide fly for the same reason I’m attracted to soft-hackled wets. Simplicity is a wonderful quality that we often discard because we have a penchant for complicating things.. Thanks Steve. Very useful post. Nicely done as always.

  2. Steve Culton says:

    Thanks Steve. All that fuzzy Angora surrounds the body when wet. It’s almost like a self-hackling fly.

  3. When you say “chop” – are you suing scissors to cut the angora into smaller pieces?

  4. Steve Culton says:

    Exactly. You don’t need to do this step. I just found it easier to dub, especially for smaller sizes. I’m using a very small amount of Angora, and only giving it a few chop cuts. I should also mention dubbing wax. I like high-tack. I’ve amended the tying notes to include this.

  5. […] is a Steve Culton pattern that I first saw in the Summer 2012 Issue of Flyfishing & Tying Journal. He now has his […]

  6. MVorhis says:

    I enjoy your site Steve. First saw your thoughts on the J.Stockard site recently and followed them here for a little more. Very good reads all. I’ll come back…but not before I tie up a few of your favorites, as I think I might have been missing out on some good patterns up to now. I especially like the look of the wet fly version of the red fox squirrel, and the Ginger Caddis nymph too. We’ll see how they fare….

    – Mike

    • Steve Culton says:

      Thanks for visiting, and thanks for reading. The Squirrel and Ginger is one of my favorite wet flies, and I catch a lot of trout on it every year.

      • MVorhis says:

        I used to burn to concentrate on nymph fishing, but over the years I’ve realized I really like wet flies a lot (especially those that produce). One reason is that I find that I love fishing across and down. The takes are electric as blue blazes. Can’t wait to tie up a few Squirrel & Ginger now and give ’em a go. Tnx again for that tip.

      • Steve Culton says:

        My pleasure. You’ll find all kinds of productive wet flies on currentseams, 🙂

      • MVorhis says:

        Steve, would you say the Ginger Caddis larval pattern and the Red Fox Squirrel wet fly are late summer & autumn patterns? Given their color, that would be my first guess. Or do you find you get more mileage out of them than that?

  7. Steve Culton says:

    Hi Mike,

    I don’t fish the Ginger Caddis Larva that much any more — it’s mostly the bead head version of the Squirrel and Ginger when I’m nymphing. I usually get on a nymphing kick in late summer and fall and tend to do well with that fly. The last couple years on the Farmington, I had my best success with the Squirrel and Ginger wet from early spring through late summer. Check out this post from 2013: https://currentseams.com/2013/04/25/spectacular-wet-fly-action-on-the-farmington-river/

    Hope that helps.

    • MVorhis says:

      Hi Steve,

      I got hold of some Angora Goat hair and tried it out (wanted to tie up a few of those Squirrel & Ginger wet flies and see how they compared to the same pattern tied with ginger-colored synthetic dubbing). You’re right, the natural hair makes for a great buggy-looking fly.

      But for the life of me I have a hard time dubbing the stuff–especially making a noodle. It doesn’t seem to grab my standard 6/0 tying thread, and even fairly sticky wax (even glue and head cement) makes little difference…at least on my bench. The fibers feel like they have a very low coefficient of friction; they slide right past the thread. I’ve tried dry, moistened and with waxes. I haven’t tried High-Tack product, but I’ve tried some danged sticky dubbing wax and it helped about zero, so I hold out little hope that just a little more tack will turn night into day.

      I’ve never been the world champ of dubbing, but I’m not a complete slouch either. The issues I have with Angora Goat seem to go way beyond blaming myself. Do you find it difficult to work with?

      I can still use it with a dubbing loop easily enough–I can use real thin 8/0 or 12/0 thread to avoid build-up, and it does look good. I can get its benefits that way. Once on, it makes a terrific wet fly or nymph.

      But I wondered whether you use a different kind of thread when you spin a noodle, or prep the goat hair some way, or have some other special tricks…?

      (Could just say the fault is mine, but why add to an already long list?)

      – Mike

      • Steve Culton says:

        Hi Mike,

        I use standard-issue 6/0 or 8/0 UNI thread or Pearsall’s Gossamer silk for my dubbing loops. No tricks there.

        Two things: first, try chopping the Angora goat fibers a bit with scissors. I take a small clump (maybe thumbnail size) and give it a few cuts.

        Second, Loon High Tack wax (Swax).

        Thus, you shall transform night into day.


      • MVorhis says:

        I did chop. I did not use the Swax. I guess that’s the diff. Okay, I’ll try it, and if it works…uh…there will be great rejoicing. : )

        Thanks Steve.

  8. Doug Defanti says:

    Hi Steve,
    That ginger caddis looks like a killer. Do you fish that as a larval represention of the early black caddis? Also any suggestions Where can I purchase ginger angora goat hair?

    • Steve Culton says:

      Hi Doug,

      I fish it as….a ginger-colored caddis larva. 🙂 Humor aside, these days I don’t fish that fly as much as I used to (mostly because I’m fishing its cousin, the Squirrel & Ginger, in either its wet or nymph versions — you can find those patterns on this site). I would typically fish the larva as the bottom fly in a team of three wets. It sure would work as the bottom fly in a drop-shot nymph rig. As far as where to get ginger angora goat, try your local fly shop. If they don’t have it, the internet search I just did generated 76,500 results. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding it. Thanks for the questions and I hope that helps.


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