I remember well the excitement of waiting on the book to arrive….BARR FLIES How To Tie and Fish the Copper John, The Barr Emerger and dozens of other patterns, variations and rigs…it was 2007.

John S. Barr’s book of confidence patterns

I’d been tying flies for something like 31 years yet every single pattern listed and described in this book id never seen before, pattern after pattern just jumped out at me with the thought..that would work..or I love that..or I definitely need to tie that.

I couldn’t wait to get stuck in to tying these patterns..I have a strong memory of getting out the notebook and writing a list of so many materials I didn’t have..most of which id never heard of  and a lot of which are in everyday use in my tying these days..things like..Ultra wire..every colour under the sun..and various thicknesses’..Thin Skin..Arizona Syntetic Peacock Dubbing..and a material listed as Stretch Tubing….

No one in the UK had Stretch Tubing at the time, or if they had I couldn’t find it so it was off to the States to hunt it down and I did my usual a packet of every colour option!

Available from Wapsi or Hareline. I use two sizes from Hareline..MIDGE and MICRO 

The tubing has a round cross section but will lie flat when stretched.

Two patterns were listed in the book as needing Stretch Tubing…the PURE MIDGE LARVA..and the GRAPHIC CADDIS both of which really interested me and both of which have gone on to catch me so many fish. I will come back to the PURE MIDGE LARVA and a number of other of Johns patterns and my experience with them in the future, but for now let’s look to the GRAPHIC CADDIS.

Graphic Caddis in Cream on a Partridge K5AS size 14

As I grew up my experience on my local river with Caddis or Sedges as we call them at home was to wait into the evening and on into dusk during the summer for a rise so that we could fish dry flies, some of my favourite memories are of swinging dry sedges downstream and waiting for that ‘’snatch’’ when the light had gone. But of course when you think about it for every adult sedge that hatched there had to have been a larvae and a pupa and I always had this on my mind though for years did nothing about it. Turning the page on Johns book to Chapter 9 GRAPHIC CADDIS was a light bulb moment for me on how I would tackle caddis time on the rivers I fish in the future.


Hook: Partridge K5AS, K14A or K4AY-SE in sizes 14-16
Thread: Cream, Olive, Tan 8/0
Body: Stretch Tubing in various suitable colours. I use Clear, Olive, Tan and Golden Stone
Legs: Brown Partridge
Tag: Silver Holographic Tinsel size small
Head: Natural Gray Ostrich

I tie the pattern on all three of these hooks.

John has really nailed the key design points in this pattern, clean hydrodynamic lines, translucency( this is where the Stretch Tubing comes in), the obvious hump in the posterior aided by the use of a curved hook pattern and reverse taper thread build up, legs and antennae covered by a combination of brown partridge feathers and natural gray ostrich herl and something I consider to be very important, the silver holographic butt which not only imitates the silvery air bubble as the pupae ascends to the surface but I’m certain acts as a key trigger and attractor to the fish. Size and shape outrank colour in my opinion so make sure you get that reversed taper right and match the size to what you have locally.

Golden Stone Colour Variation on a Partridge K4AY-SE size 16 when wet..note how the holographic butt is prominent.

John talks in his book about making a presentation with this pattern off the back of an adult sedge and this is what I tried..and it worked and has continued to over the ten years I’ve been fishing it. A Roman Moser balloon caddis and a graphic caddis trailing is my combination during caddis time not only during a hatch but earlier in the day whilst searching when you aware there has been recent caddis activity. Don’t be afraid to break the rules a little and let the rig swing at the end of the dead drift forcing the pupae to rsie…..and standby for action!

A selection of Graphic Caddis in key colours and sizes