Fly Tyers Corner

Fly Tyers Corner:

Jonathan Jacobs’ x-Caddis

Hook:  Firehole Outdoors #419 16-18
Thread:  Magpie Materials Red 72D
Shuck:  Straight Zelon, Caddis Tan
Body:  Antron 100% pure, Hare’s ear color
Wing:  x-Caddis hair

From the Editor:
Since it’s Spring here in the Driftless, I felt that it might be a good idea for a bit of education on the life cycle of an important trout food source the Caddisflies: Order Trichoptera.

I contacted my good friend and fly fisher Jonathan Jacobs and asked him if he would consider putting together a brief video-based treatise on Caddisflies. Naturally, Jon, being the good guy that he is, consented. So, we have for your viewing pleasure, two enlightening videos that will give you a pretty nice overview of Caddisflies. You can find them by going to Jon’s YouTube channel at these addresses.,

The first video covers the life cycle of the Caddis and Jon shows us a bunch of patterns that mimic every stage of Caddis development starting with the larvae and progressing to the pupa, and finally the adult. In the second video, Jon ties his version of the x-Caddis, a fly every local angler should carry.

So thank you Jonathan for taking time to do this for us. I’m sure every one viewing will find a few nuggets that will up their catch rate over this coming season.

Views From My Side of the Vise

In my last RipRap article I mentioned taking some fly tying classes at the old Bentley’s Fly Shop. In addition to the Uncased Kinni Caddis, one other fly pattern that was introduced to me was a scud. As my fly tying journey was getting underway, my trout fishing journey was just beginning. In fact, the first trout I ever caught was on an Orange Scud that I tied.

Jumping ahead a couple years, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Laughing Trout Fly Tying Club. As I settled into a routine of tying with the group on Wednesday evenings, I would hear them mention a fly they called a PPP or sometimes a Potter’s. They would mention the fly, but would never share any details about it. It took a few weeks before any of the members would give me any kind of clue about what this “secret” fly was.

In time, I guess I earned their trust enough to learn that the fly was Potter’s Perfect Pupa. The fly was created by an early member of the group, Dennis Potter. Dennis took a scud-style hook, added a tungsten bead, a length of red wire and black rabbit fur that he tied in with a dubbing loop, and voilà, the Potter’s or PPP was created.  The fly took on legendary status on a trip to the Whitewater River by Dennis, Rich Frick and Jim Thomson when it was the only fly that caught fish and that was a group of fishermen that rarely had trouble putting fish in the net.

Some fly-tyers just can’t leave well enough alone (present company included). By the time I joined Laughing Trout, members of the group had put their own spin on the original pattern by changing sizes and dubbing color. One of those variations was a tan Potter’s that was tied with UV Ice Dubbing. I tried tying the fly that way and started catching fish on a regular basis.

When I started to donate fly boxes to Trout Unlimited and other groups, I felt like the fly needed just a little more refinement to look good in a box, so I added a Latex Scud Back. For dubbing I like to mix about half and half tan UV Ice Dubbing and natural rabbit dubbing together in a

coffee grinder (preferably in an appliance dedicated to mixing dubbing so the rabbit fur doesn’t end up in your morning brew).

Hook:           Size 12 – 16 Scud Hook

Bead:           Gold Tungsten to match hook

Shell:           Latex Scud Back

Rib:              Red wire, size Brassie

Abdomen:    UV Ice Dubbing and Natural Rabbit Fur Dubbing

There are a lot of days on the stream that it seems if you cannot catch a fish on a Potter’s, you might just as well call it a day and go home.

Paul Johnson

Waconia, Minnesota

Golden Stone Chubby

Fly Tyers Corner:
Jonathan Jacobs’ 

  • Hook:  Daiichi 1260, size 8 
  • Thread:  Uni, 6/0 Yellow 
  • Tail:  Eight strands orange Krystal Flash 
  • Underbody:  Thin strip of scrap foam covered with gold Ice Dub 
  • Lower Body:  2mm Gold Thin Fly Foam 
  • Upper Body:  2mm Tan Thin Fly Foam 
  • Wings:  Two strands polypropylene macrame yarn in Insect Gray from Charlie’s Fly Box 
  • Legs:  Hareline Barred Rubber, Med., Fl. Yellow Chartreuse

I have been fortunate to, along with two boon companions, spend the second week of July fishing Montana’s Gallatin and Madison Rivers. It was on these trips that I first encountered the nearly mythical Salmon Fly hatch. This event is a spectacle with huge creatures from the Carboniferous Era everywhere along, above, and, most importantly for an angler, on the water. 

This year, however, we three amigos will make our trip to Montana in the third week of July and the salmon flies will likely be a memory by then. Hatch charts for the area say that a slightly smaller stonefly, the golden stone, follows the salmon fly hatch. I’d come to admire Cheech Pierce’s Chubby Chernobyl Salmon fly and thought that I might tie a similar fly in golden stone colors on a smaller hook.  

That’s the origin story. Despite its Montana roots, I think the fly, or a very similar one, might have its uses here in the Midwest. A size 10 version tied a bit sparser and in perhaps more muted colors could make an excellent hopper imitation hereabouts. With its robust foam body and buoyant wing material, it’s sure to make a great top fly in any hopper/dropper combo.  You can follow a link to a video that shows you how I tie the fly. In the video I explain the origin of the name and offer prejudiced opinions about our sport.  I hope you enjoy it.  

Click HERE to see video

Views From My Side of the Vise

Views From My Side of the Vise 

When my fly tying journey started around twenty years ago, my goal was to be able to tie up some panfish and maybe some bass flies to play around with up at our lake cabin in Northern Minnesota. I quickly found out that I really enjoyed wrapping fur and feathers around hooks in order to make a fish think that it looked good enough to eat.

After a year or so of learning to tie flies on my own, I decided that I wanted to move it to a higher level and take a fly tying class. I found a class at Bentley’s Fly Shop when they were still located in Eden Prairie.

The instructor for the class was John Mowery. I really appreciated John’s attention to the small details when tying flies.This was my first introduction to trout flies and trout fishing, so it was all new and fascinating to me.

It was at one of these tying classes that John showed us his Un-cased Kinni Caddis. This fly has been a staple in my box since that time and remains my favorite sub-surface caddis fly.

Hook: Size #16 emerger hook

Thread: 14/0 or 8/0 black

Abdomen: Ultra Wire, size Brassie in chartreuse

Thorax: Black Superfine dubbing

Collar: Starling feather

At one of those classes John made a comment about donating some of the flies he tied to Trout Unlimited. A person has to wonder if that comment had an impact on me or not?

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me.

Paul Johnson


View From My Side of the Vice

My fly tying journey started almost 20 years ago. I had been playing with a fly rod to catch bass and panfish. I was not a trout fisherman. It was fun to tie up some Wooly Buggers, Clouser Minnows and Panfish Poppers. The more I tied, the more I enjoyed wrapping stuff around a hook to fool fish. After taking some tying classes at a local fly shop that were of course focused on trout flies, I was hooked.

As my good friend Craig always seems to remind me, I tend to be a little old school. I do not always embrace our current technology. When I started tying flies all of the information available to me was either in books or magazines. I am not sure if YouTube existed back then. If it did, I did not know what it was.

One of my go-to print media was Midwest Fly Fishing Magazine that was put out by the late Tom Helgeson. In each one of those editions there would be an article on fly tying by Dennis Potterout of Michigan. I would soak up everything he wrote like a sponge.

In one of those editions, he featured a pattern called the Opal X-Caddis and he talked about all the success he had with that fly and why you should fill your fly box with them (just like I am about to tell you!).

Based on that article, I tied up a bunch. Of course, since it’s kind of my thing, I had to make some changes to the original pattern. Not everyone agrees, but I always call my changes improvements. That’s how Mr. Potter’s original fly became my Improved Opal X-Caddis. (Thanks to my friend Mike Alwin for the clever name.)

The biggest change I made was to the head of the fly. Mr. Potter would just clip the butt ends of the deer hair wing like you would on a standard Elk Hair Caddis. I refined the head just a little by adding a touch of dubbing and 3 or 4 turns of brown hackle to finish the fly. So now it is improved! I almost always tie the Improved Opal X-Caddis on a size 14 hook, but I do size my hackle down to about a size 18 feather for the head.

Even if you don’t trust my opinion (hard to fathom, isn’t it?), you can believe Dennis Potter: This is a great fly pattern and one that you should have in your fly box this spring.

If you have any questions or comments, I always like to hear from you.

Paul Johnson

Waconia, Minnesota

Hook: Size 14 dry fly hook

Thread: 14/0 dark brown

Shuck: Improved Amber Zelon

Abdomen: Opal Tinsel, size medium

Wing: Bleached Deer Hair

Thorax: Mahogany Brown Superfine Dubbing

Collar: Brown Hackle


Eradicator is a foam caddis pattern that is part of a dry dropper rig and will float beadhead nymphs. It also serves as a strike indicator. This fly’s name pokes a little fun at pattern names that go to the extreme in describing how successful an angler might be when using such a fly. Names like Irresistible, Warden’s Worry, Mickey Finn, Slumpbuster, Shop Vac, Ray Charles, come to mind.

This pattern is as much Ed’s as it is mine. He has provided lots of input to the design. While out fishing one day, Ed asked me if I had any caddis patterns that could float a tungsten bead nymph. I came up with a foam and deer hair wing pattern and over the past few years, we have tweaked it some. Last year I had the opportunity to sit next to Mike Alwin and watch him tie up several Skip Wet flies that utilize a green Krystal Flash rib. Right there I decided the Eradicator needed to have this feature. The most recent change is the use of hot pink yarn as an indicator. It is much more visible for our older eyes than the orange foam I used previously. 

Hey! Eradicator rhymes with indicator. Weird!


Hook – #14 Firehole 633 nymph hook (heavier hook so the fly lands upright)

Thread – Tan Danville 6/0

Body – Natural hares ear

Rib – Green Krystal Flash

Under Wing – Tan 2mm foam strip width of hook gap. Trim off rear corners. 

Middle wing – Silver Congo Hair from Fly Tyers Dungeon (substitute EP trigger point?) – I trim this wing a little longer than the foam.

Over Wing – Deer hair – same length as the foam.

Indicator – Hot Pink Yarn

My favorite dry/dropper rig has been a #14 Eradicator dry with a #16 Shop Vac dropper. I like to tie 5x tippet off of a 4X leader and leave about 4” of 4X tag on my surgeon’s knot. The dry gets tied on the tag and the nymph on the 5X point. I use Shop Vacs tied with both tungsten and brass beads so I can choose my sink rates for various water depths. I use other beaded nymphs but the Shop Vac has been a real winner and is my go to nymph pattern.

If you want to know more about my inspiration for this fly name, you can check out this YouTube video from 1989.  If you watch this video, I ask that you shout out the name every time you hook a fish with one.

If you’d like more information about tying this pattern just shoot me an email. My address is on this website under Contact Us