Dark Cahill
Dan Cahill

The Cahill to me, Dark or light represents the ideal of the traditional dry fly. Their soft, muskrat or badger fur bodies, the subtle contrast of their hackles and tails against those bodies, and their gracefully curved, finely marked wood duck wings all tell of elegance. These characteristics also make the Cahill’s a fine choice for imitating mayflies from dark to light, and for imitating other insects. The light and dark Cahill were created on the east coast by Dan Cahill, but are now in use across America.


HOOK - Mustad #R50-94840 – Tiemco #100 or any standard dry fly sizes #20-10

THREAD - Tan, brown, or black 8/0 or 6/0 WINGS- Wood duck or dyed mallard TAIL – Brown hackle fibers.
BODY – Muskrat fur
HACKLE – Brown.

** For Light Cahill change the thread to tan or cream – tail is ginger hackle fibers – body is cream badger under fur and hackle is ginger. All the rest is the same.

How to Tie

  1. Debarb hook and place in the vice. Start thread at the front of the hook about two eyelets from the eye and lay down a thread base about three eyelets from the eye.
  2. Strip the fuzz from the base of a wood duck feather, and then strip a section from each side of the feather. Set the sections back to back, measure them against the hook (It should be at least as wide as the hooks gape, even as wide as the hook shank is long) and tie them in about three quarters up the shank, trim the butts at an angle near the end of the hook shank and bind them down with thread wraps.
  3. Strip some hackle fibers for the tail, measure them against the hook shank (shank length) – trim butts at an angle and bind them down with thread wraps.
  4. Snip some muskrat from the hide, pull it apart and mix it together to fluff it up and with it dub a tapered body to just in front of your wood duck.
  5. Pull the wood duck wing up and lay a couple thread wraps in front of it to hold it upright. Divide the wing in half using a bodkin or your scissors then using a fig- ure eight wrap bind down the wing. Then with the thread and using loose thread turns and starting at the bottom of one of the wings and going up from the base then as you go back down with tighter wraps to post one side of the wings then repeat for the other side.
  6. Size (fibers about shank length ), prepare (strip fuzz out), and tie in two hackles behind the wing and wrap- ping one at a time forward to just behind the eye. Se- cure each one with a couple thread wraps, build a thread head, whip finish and you’re done.

This is a fun one to tie up!