Written by Gary Lewis

October Caddis: Too big to ignore

With this giant of western river caddis, what the angler sees on the surface is just a hint of what goes on beneath.

Across the West, the October caddis hatch begins in September and hits its stride in the first weeks of October. Even into November, the big bugs can still be found above the river.

Separate a caddis larva from its shell and what you have is a pale yellow rock worm with jet black head and legs. Trout eat them shell and all, but the larva itself can be compared to trout candy.

Sometime in August, the caddis begin their final transitional stage, similar to the process of a caterpillar enclosing itself in a cocoon. The caddis attaches itself to a rock and seals itself inside its case, where it transitions from the larval stage into a pupa. When the time is right, the pupa breaks out of the case and begins to migrate to the edge of the stream, where it crawls out upon a branch or a rock and dries its wings.

Trout feed on caddis throughout the year, but they are suddenly more available in August, September, and October.

Hatch timing is not as easy to mark as a stonefly hatch. Much of the hatch can come off during night hours. In fact, it is safe to say that if a single orange-bodied, tent-winged bug can be seen above the river, the hatch is on. To the trout's way of looking at the world, the party has started, and it's mostly below the surface.


The larval stage is imitated in both cased and uncased versions. Artificials can be tied on scud-style on English bait hooks, or on straight hooks sized No. 10 to 6 and 2X to 4X long. The fly should be heavy. Beads, lead wire, and copper ripping can all be used to make sure it sinks fast. To tie a passable cased caddis imitation, peacock herl works as a good body base and may be overlaid with a rooster hackle to add depth to the body. The body of the worm can be tied to represent it partially out of the case, or not.

To be ready in the event of an October caddis feeding frenzy, tie or buy John Hazel's Deschutes Cased Caddis, Oswald's BH Rock Roller, Peeking Caddis.

Now picture the worm free from its case. This is a really good fly to fish by itself anytime between the middle of July and end of September. My favorite representations are tied in off-white, yellow, and orange overlaid with clear latex. Heads and legs are completed with dark rabbit or muskrat with the guard hairs picked out. Some other good caseless larva patterns include Tan Caddis Larva, Rip Caddis (Hafele and Morris).

For all intents and purposes, these flies should be fished dead-drift. I learned to fish them with the rod in the high-stick position, but they can also be fished with a strike indicator. Trout tend to suck them in and spit them out just as fast, so it pays to set the hook at the slightest suggestion of a grab.


Whether you’re a single axle, double axle, or bigger, the tires are probably the most important part of your everyday trailer use. Nothing sees more wear and use than the tires. Running 4-6 ply tires can help with trailer blowout, and more plies add more protection when trailering and are rated for heavier loads, making them stronger. Making sure the tires are properly inflated to the manufacturer’s rating is also crucial, as low or high pressure can lead to punctures, blowouts due to heat expansion, and, most commonly, uneven wear. Low and high pressure can lead to wear on the inside and outside of the tire, shortening the life as well.


There are many things that can be done to save the life of the tires. Heat and sun are the enemy of tires. Parking the boat in a cool spot that’s not in direct sunlight, covering the tires when the trailer is sitting in the sun for a long time, and make sure the tires avoid direct heat as much as possible are great steps. In addition, make sure there is always good tread by checking with a penny to ensure the depth is safe for travel. When checking tires, make sure you look at the spare as well! The spare sees the most sun, as it is not covered by a fender at all. Putting a cover on the spare is excellent idea to keep the tire useable as long as possible.

Wheel Bearings

The wheel bearings are often the most feared parts of a trailer, since they cause a ton of problems, and usually expensive ones! Bad bearings will cause the trailer to vibrate, cause the wheel to fail, and, at high speeds, can cause the wheel to fly off entirely. Bad bearings can also damage everything around them as well.


The usual way bearings fail is because of poor lubrication, since it causes heat and damage. Other reasons also include loose axles or too tight/ loose nuts. Excessive load on the trailer can hurt bearings as well. To check your bearings, ensure there is no grease/oil leaking. Bearings should be re-packed/ done yearly or semi-yearly depending on use to ensure peak performance. The entire goal of the grease is to reduce friction, cut heat, and make sure there is no explosion! After re-greasing, the grease will make a vacuum seal, preventing moisture/debris from entering the bearing. Packing bearings is not hard with the right tools and grease, but the local boat shop has professionals who can do it for you, ensuring it’s done correctly. Only attempt the bearing if you are confident in doing so, as improperly performing a bearing packing will lead to major issues. Oil-wash/ fluid bearings are great for boat trailers as well, as they keep lubrication surrounding the bearing, with more viscous fluid that penetrates the bearing better and keeps it cool.



There are many steps in a trailer-checklist, including lights, bolts, bunks, tie downs, etc., but these 3 tips will help keep you chasing fish. Going through a fast check before every trip will keep you and your boat as safe as possible while headed to the fishing grounds. If you need a checklist, there are plenty to choose from online which will perfectly fit your trailer. Your trailer needs will also vary depending on use and where you fish. If fishing saltwater, make sure to wash the trailer thoroughly with fresh water or water and a salt-cutter, and do constant checks on the axles and areas water can trap, even if you have a galvanized trailer. More use will require more routine maintenance, but it’s better to check at home than on the side of the interstate! With a safe trailer, you are ready to chase fish around the nation!