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Shucking #20 deer hair caddis Mustad 94840 #20
Thread: Sheer 14/0 Brown
Body: Whiting Bronze Brown
Wing: Wapsi Premo Deer Hair Natural Brown

I follow a lot of blogs and read my own daily to get inspiration and ideas on new patterns to try out, the other day smallflyfunk had a #20 deer hair caddis that I reallly liked the look of. I got two new strips of deer hair not long ago: the Wapsi Premo Deer Hair, which I really enjoy working with on slightly larger patterns, but on smaller patterns I have never used much deer hair since the previous strips I’ve tried just wasn’t good enough for tying in on such a small  hook. So: this #20 pattern was a just the test I needed to see how it holds up.

The quality of the hair is great, the #20 caddis was a breeze to do, the limiting factor is actually getting the wing small enough when you hold it to tie it in! If you are tying caddis or other patterns that require deer hair: go into a shop and really get a feel for how it is, and spend that extra money on a good strip of hair, it will help you a lot in the future ( or you will end up, like me, with lots of bad pieces of hair in a box ). Read this article on choosing hair on

The caddis on my thumb for size:


#30 Parachute

Hook: Gamakatsu C12-BM #30
Thread: Sheer 14/0 Pale yellow
Tail: Mallard Flank White
Body: Fly-Rite Extra Fine Poly #0 Golden Yellow
Wing: Poly-Yarn
Hackle: Whiting Bronze Brown

Down to the smallest of hooks that I have, the Gamakatsu C12-BM #30 has a (relatively speaking) large hook-eye, making it much easier to deal with when trying to tie it on! The hackle was not very well tied in so you can see the thread got a bit loose behind the hook-eye.

The first time I’ve tied in both tail, dubbing, hackle and wing on a #30 hook, and all without magnification glasses ( I really need to get me some of those soon!). The hackle is the worst part of this: first of all you need to find something small enough, secondly the small hackles takes nothing to tear, so the process can be a bit hard on the eyes and concentration!

Tiny Adult Down-Wing Midge

If you read towards the end of the excellent book “Tying Small Flies” the following pattern shows up in the  “32s!” chapter: Tiny Adult Down-Wing Midge.

I’ve tied some flies on the TMC #30 before, but I had a package of Varivas #30 Ultra Midge and Gamakatsu C12-BM #30 that I hadn’t tested out yet, so this ended up as a showcase between the three hooks.

All flies tied with Sheer 14/0 for body, CDC as wing tied in with TMC 16/0

TMC 518

I like the 518: it has a nice hook-gap and good strength in the hook that can deal with “some” force. The eye is small, but that is only to expect in these small hooks. For standard dry-fly in the #30/#32 this is my preferred choice.


Varivas 2300

First time I tie on the Varivas 2300. Compared to the 518 above this must be handled with a delicate hand! The hook is really light and bends with only the smallest amount of force. On the positive side: the hook-gap is slightly larger than on the 518. I have not fished this yet, but my initial thought is that I would trust the 518 over this hook, but that is to be seen later this summer.


Gamakatsu C12-BM

It is barbless, curved and has a extra large eye. The feel of the hook is now better again: it feels strong and can deal with some force. The extra large eye makes this a better choice for attaching it with cold fingers when you are out next to the river.


The hooks

All hooks together to show the big difference in eye size:


The packages together with their respective midges on top:


The pattern itself is easy to tie in on these small hooks. The 518 is still my favourite, but the Gamakatsu is a very good runner-up after this round, so I will experiment some more with that hook before the summer (it is also the only barbless I have seen in this size)!