Beginner’s Fly Tying: The Stancev Caddis Larva Pattern

By Don Fine

Our PVFF virtual fly tying sessions continue to be a success with over 20 members participating in each of the past 4 months.

Thus, we are encouraged to continue our Beginner’s Fly Tying sessions through the remainder of this year and into 2021, with new patterns and new tying techniques. We appreciate the positive feedback and photos (of the flies) which several tiers have shared with us.

The Stancev Caddis Larva.

You may recall the focus of our Beginner’s Fly Tying program this year was to help those new fly tiers to learn the basics of fly construction in a step-wise fashion with patterns increasing in complexity through the year, and covering various ‘fish food’ grouping, e.g. minnows, aquatic nymphs and emerging mayflies, and terrestrial insects.

The pattern chosen for our October virtual tying class (Stancev Caddis Larva) represents another major fish food grouping, the Caddisflies. More specifically, this pattern imitates the larval stage in the life cycle of a caddisfly.

I came across this pattern while reading the Autumn 2020 issue of Fly Tyer magazine and found it closely resembles the larva stage of the October caddis, which will be prevalent on many streams and lakes in the coming month.

View our instructional video for tying the Stancev Caddis Larva. This video includes several chapters. Visit our YouTube channel to easily jump to the chapter of your choice.

Instructions for Tying the Stancev Caddis Larvae:


Hooks: size 10 or 12 2x long nymph hook (Saber #7031)

Lead wire (or substitute) – 0.015 diameter

Copper wire – medium

Abdomen – Rusty brown dubbing

Thorax – Brown dubbing (with antron)

Wing case – 0.1mm black craft foam

Legs- speckled brown hen hackle

Tail – white or clear antron fibers

Shell back – iridescent cellophane packing

Tying steps:

  1. Start thread wraps immediately beyond the eye of the hook and wrap back to the bend of the hook. Let thread bobbin hang at this location.  
  2. (Lead wire wraps on the hook shank). At the rear of the hook slightly in front of the where the bobbin in hanging, begin to wrap lead wire around the hook shank forward to ~1/8”- ¼” behind the hook eye. Make several thread wraps immediately behind the lead wraps, in order to provide a small thread damn to prevent the lead from moving to the rear. Then secure the lead in place by wrapping the thread forward over the wire and then return thread wraps back to bend of the hook.
  3. (Attaching tail fibers).Take a small ~1/2” section of the white antron fiber bundle and secure this small section of strands in place with thread at the bend of the hook. This represents the tail of the fly. Once these fibers are tied in place, trim the tail with rough cuts as short as ¼”.
  4. (Shell back application). Thread should still be hanging at the bend of the hook). Cut a rectangular piece of the cellophane sheet ~2” long and ~1/4” wide. Snip one end of the sheet to an ‘arrow’ point. Then while holding the cellophane strip in place at the rear of the hook (with the point forward and the long section to the rear of the hook) secure the ‘arrow point’ with several thread wraps.
  5. (Insertion of the copper wire). Advance the thread several wraps forward and at this point tie in the section of copper wire and using several thread wraps, return the thread to a location immediately in front of where the cellophane strip was tied.
  6. (Dubbing the abdomen) Dub a 1 ½ -2” section of the thread with the rusty brown dubbing and wrap the dubbed portion of the thread forward ~ 2/3 of the hook shank (leave 1/3 of the forward hook bare). Repeat the thread dubbing to enhance the width of the abdomen. (Note from the video that a caddis fly abdomen is more robust than that of a mayfly).
  7. (Segmentation of the abdomen).Wrap the copper wire forward to segment the abdomen and secure the wire in place immediately in front of the dubbed abdomen, where the thread should be hanging.
  8. (Securing the Shell back). Pull the cellophane shell back material forward to the location where the thread is hanging and secure it will thread wraps and trim off the excess cellophane strip. *Tip – it is relatively easy to secure the shell back in place if the tier holds the cellophane strip in place with the thumb and forefinger of the left hand while making thread wraps with the right hand.
  9. (Preparing and inserting the foam wing case). Cut one end of the foam strip into a point. Then while holding the strip in the left hand with the point forward toward the hook eye, secure this point of foam strip with the tying thread. Advance the thread forward to the hook eye.
  10. (Preparing and inserting the fly hackle feather). Flare one hen hackle feather and remove the fluffy fibers from the butt end of the feather. Trim off this portion of the feather leaving the tip portion intact. Next trim approximately 5 of the lowest fibers at the butt end forming a miniature comb (this is a common practice used to secure small hackles to the hook shank). Hold the small feather by its tip with the concave portion up and with the right hand secure the butt of the feather with several thread wraps. (Note: at this point the foam strip should be facing to the rear and the hackle feather to the front of the fly).
  11. (Dubbing the thorax). Dub the thread with the dark brown dubbing and make ~ two wraps of dubbed thread immediately behind the foam strip where it meets the abdomen and then several wraps in front of the foam covering the hackle feather butts. Return the thread wraps to the rear stopping immediately in front of the foam strip.
  12. (Hackling the thorax). Grasp the feather by its tip with hackle pliers, and make several ~3 turns of hackle around the thorax while stroking the fibers toward the rear with your free hand. Secure the hackle feather in place with several thread wraps (these thread wraps should take place immediately in front of where the foam is protruding). Clip off any excess hackle tip and lightly make one wrap of bare thread forward ½ distance to the hook eye.
  13. (Tying down the wing case). *Note: the tying thread should be hanging ½ distance forward to the hook eye. Fold the foam strip down toward the hook eye and secure at this point with 2 thread wraps. This creates one segment of the wing case. Raise the loose section of foam up and make several thread wraps forward through the hackle stopping immediately behind the hook eye. Fold down the foam again and secure this second segment of foam in place. Whip finish or half hitch the fly at this point and gently cut off the excess foam.
  14. (Securing the wing case and enhancing the fly). At this point the tier can apply a small drop of head cement (or metallic flake clear finger nail polish lacquer). This completes the fly.