Kratville Critters


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Flies With a Story #77

Story and Flies by David Kratville, Sacramento, CA

Dave is a photographer specializing in nature, landscape and wildlife photography.  You can learn more about him and Kratville Photography from his Web site at


"This pattern began as an attempt at solving a problem...."

This pattern began as an attempt at solving a problem that came about while fly-fishing for bluegill out of my neighbor’s pond.  Traditional hopper patterns with deer hair as the primary source of floatation would start to sink after catching a few fish. I decided to try to make a hopper pattern with a foam body. I had tied some extended body damsel patterns in the past and liked the way the foam mimics an insect’s segmented body. All of the foam bodied flies I had seen had the foam lashed down on top of the hook. This makes a nice segmented body on top, where the fish cannot see it, and the hook in plain sight along the underside of the fly. I decided to try and stick the hook through the foam and then tie it down so that the segments would be on the bottom where the fish can see them and the hook would not be so obvious. After some trial and error my pattern worked and no matter how far it got pulled under it would float back to the surface. The only problem I ran into was that the buoyant foam on the bottom of the hook wanted to rise up which ended with the fly flipped over on its side in the surface film. I figured that I could glue down a second strip of foam along the back. Luckily around the same time I came across the thinner razor foam, which is very flexible, and lends itself to this method. I decided to add the extra white underwing as an added bit of fish attracting flash.

Photo by David Kratville

This fly originally started out as a hopper pattern but I have found it really shines as a caddis pattern. It makes a tremendous searching pattern and has replaced my previous favorite, the Humpy, for prospecting pocket water. This fly will float all day long which is something I demand from a dry fly. Occasionally the wing and hackle seem to get a little waterlogged but a little shake in floatant crystals and she will be riding high again. I have tied this fly down to size 18 on a Tiemco 531 hook that has a short shank and large gap that leaves plenty of hooking room without the foam filling up the gap. It is easier to dub the underbody on the smallest flies and then glue in the wing on top. These small caddis patterns work great as an indicator dry with a midge or small mayfly nymph as a dropper. The funniest part of the story of this fly was that after submitting it to Fly Anglers On Line as a "Fly of the Week" (click here to see the step-by-step photos on FAOL), I walked into a local flyshop and saw my first Barr’s Dropper Hopper. I tie all of my flies and do not look through the fly bins at fly shops that often. My moment of genius was instantly squashed when I saw Barr’s fly which used “my” technique for piercing the foam on the hook. So much for creativity!

- David Kratville

...Tie this pattern as a hopper, stonefly, or caddis...

Photos below by Peter Frailey

Kratville Hopper

Kratville Stonefly

October Caddis

Kratville Caddis


Tying Sequence:

Hook: Tiemco 2302 Size 14-16 for caddis, Size 10 for hoppers, Size 6-8 for stoneflies
Thread: Danville 3/0 or 6/0 on smaller flies. Black seems to make the segment lines stick out but red against the yellow for a hopper looks good too
Body: Foam, either standard thickness (2mm) foam cut to an equal sided strip or 1 mm Razor foam folded and super glued on the smaller flies.
Underwing: .5 mm white Razor foam
Overwing: 1mm tan or other color Razor foam
Bullet-head and collar: Deer hair, fine hair from flank of deer to keep bulk down
Legs: Medium centipede legs or brown hackle

Additional tying Information:

Be sure to see the step-by-step illustrated tying instructions on, where this fly was featured as a fly of the week in February of 2006. Go to:



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