Invertebrates play an important role in the diet of many freshwater predators such as trout and yellow-fish. Two of the most important and best-known aquatic invertebrates are mayflies and caddisflies. Adults of both species lay their eggs in the water, where the nymph remains subsurface until transforming into an adult by swimming to the surface and hatching either in the surface film, or by crawling onto vegetation or structure above the water to hatch. Making their way to the surface is when they are extremely vulnerable to predation by fish, yet this is the most overlooked stage by fly anglers.
In this article, I would like to concentrate on caddisflies, more specifically the caddis pupa. We are all very familiar with caddis larva and adult imitations as these are the most common to fish, especially when targeting smallmouth yellowfish. The larvae are easy to tie and generally fished at the bottom of a run where yellowfish like to feed. The adults are a little more complicated to tie, and are typically fished on the surface in the Vaal/Orange catchment, Sterkfontein and many trout waters countrywide. But what happens when a caddis hatch suddenly appears? Before feeding on the adults on the surface, fish tend to focus on the pupae and its various stages of development during its ascent to the surface.
Most caddisflies have a life cycle of about one year from the egg deposit until the last egg is laid. Some caddis species, especially cased caddis, need up to two years to mature while others can produce two generations in a single year, depending on conditions. The metamorphosis from egg laying to adult lasts between six and 18 months of which, for most species, the larva stage can last six to ten months. During the larva stage, a caddis can pass through several intermediate stages, at times up to 14, before reaching maturity. One wonders how they became such an important part of a fish’s diet if they are hidden under submerged structure.
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