Originally Posted by dean_mt
While I agree with the "if ain't broke..." mantra, a slight variation on the diving caddis pattern is to tie in a sparse down-wing of clear antron fibers. In his research on caddisflies, Gary LaFontaine observed than they insects collect air bubble under their wings and it creates a very visible "aura" around the bug in the water. The antron mimics the shine of the bubbles.
GLF's patterns are an interesting subject for me… back in the early 90's I attended The Fly Fishing Show
in Somerset, NJ and Gary LaFontaine provided one of the seminars. His subject of course was Caddisflies
and his slides were full of underwater pictures of various stages of caddisflies in action with emphasis on the metallic shine of the bubbles that attached to their bodies.
I was so fascinated by his presentation that I purchased his book, studied his patterns, and searched high and low for the true, DuPont tri-lobal Antron carpet fibers (not the commercial fly tying versions which are round extrusions). So I tied dozens of patterns in various colors and sizes and dedicated the following spring to fishing these patterns. Long-story-short the success never came. I was willing to endure the "learning curve" process too, but fish just continually ignored my offerings. Over years the fascination faded to the point where I have about a dozen or so left over that are tucked away in some obscure corner of one of my fly boxes, likely never to see that water again.
Years later I met up with some of the "old guard" while fishing Pocono streams and they got me into the soft hackles. After getting slapped around repeatedly by these guys I decided that there was really something to these flies and started off on another full plunge into the worlds of Leisenring, Hidy, Hughes, and Nemes. So I endured another "learning curve" but quickly realized that these patterns were the true key to unlocking caddisfly activity and the rest was history for me… I've been fishing them somewhat religiously ever since.
I remember GLF mentioning repeatedly at that seminar that his obsession with creating the "bubble" effect at times felt like he was trying imitate the impossible… and I'm not convinced that he ever got there. Perhaps I completely missed the boat, but my experiences had left me with zero confidence in his sparkle pupa and sparkle emerger patterns and not much better with respect to his larva or dancing/diving caddis patterns. To me, Antron is a very stiff, and very "fake" looking synthetic and about the only time I use it these days is for wing material. It's probably just 99% psychological based on my experiences, but I cringe just hearing the word "Antron."
Anywho, sorry to rant and ramble on… this has always been a lively subject between me and my old fly-fishing buddies back East... and I always liked these two comparative pictures with respect to (wingless) soft hackles.
Pale Green Itch Scratcher (after a dunking)