Sierra Nevada Locals
Pay close attention to these groups of insects when fly fishing in the Sierra Nevada.
The Gospel on Caddisflies
If you fly fish for trout in the West, could Gary LaFontaine's Caddisflies be the most important bug book to read?
Northern Case Maker Caddisflies (Limnephilidae) - Ready to Rule?
The largest family of caddisflies found in California is Limnephilidae with 63 species. Northern case makers also happen to be the largest family found in the Sierra Nevada. And it's my humble opinion that these caddis will continue to prosper in North America.
Building the Case
I arrived at this opinion recently, but it's really a summation of days spend on the water. Wading, casting, but always taking time to look down and see what's just underneath the surface. And what I see most often are cases - lots and lots of caddis cases. Some are abandoned, and some still have the case builder holed up inside. The empty cases usually show up on the exposed tops of rocks as the summer flows drop down, or in slacker water near the blank - the final parking spot for the the pupa's housing before emergence.
To better understand these creatures, and ultimately find clues to their success, I cracked open some books. I would learn that success of these case makers is in their genes. Here's what I found:
Variety of Habitat - On top of being the most diverse and widespread of the caddisfly families, these guys occur in all types of habitats. These habitats vary from small springs to the largest rivers and from ponds to marshes and lakes. Some northern case makers are adapted to live in seasonal pools and creeks.
Getting Around - The northern case maker family exhibits all major types of movement including: crawling, climbing, and clinging. The exception is swimming. Since all case makers inhabitat portable cases as larve, swimming isn't much of an option. It's a trade-off - they gain protection and lose out on this mode of transport.
Camo Cases for Protection - Generally, case makers use the native materials of their surroundings to build their exterior cases from. In freestone rivers the cases are constructied from mineral or rock pieces (pictured above). These cases not only blend in ( as pictured below ), but are hard enough to discourage most predators.