This fly is NOT called Europe!

Published Jul 11th 2013

The name of this renown fly is Europea 12 - with an a - oftentimes just called E-12. It's a true European classic, a great caddis imitation and even easy to tie.


A Caddis imitation

The origin of this fly is French. So far so good. But from there it becomes increasingly difficult to establish its history. Some say that it was tied by Tony Burnand as a part of a series, others refer to André Ragot as the one who designed the series - which by the way contains 12 flies according to some sources, and up to 37 according to others!
Burnand was a friend of Charles Ritz, and the editor of the French fishing magazine Au Bord de l'Eau. André Ragot was also a well known person in French fishing, and since they were active during the same pre-WW II period they can't even be separated by time.
I have tried to track down more details of the origins of the Europea flies, but have failed in doing so. For now it must suffice to say that the Europea 12 is French.

Our first meeting
My own intro to this fly did not come from Fance, but from Sweden in the form of Swedish Lennart Bergqvist's excellent book "Flugbinding på mitt sätt" (Fly-tying My Way), which was one of the first fly-tying books I bought, and which covers a lot of trout flies for stream fishing, including a bunch of caddis flies and amongst them a number of Europea 12 variations.
It's not a surprise that Bergkvist covers this fly, because it's a very popular fly in Sweden, and is often referred to simply as E-12, E:12 or E-12:an as the Swedes put it (pronounced e-tolvan).

With variations

The classic and the variations
There's a lot of variations around. That's how it is with simple and classic patterns like this. People seem to be unable to leave them simple, and have to add and improve.
A common variation includes CDC under the wing, which is a slight variation, but other styles of the pattern differ so much from the original that it hardly makes sense to call it a Europea 12 fly any more.
My personal version is relatively loyal to the original, although I omit the tail just as Bergquist does. Caddises do after all have no tail. The wing on the fly was originally tied using mallard hen chest feathers, but you can basically use any feather with the right shape - even pheasant or chicken hackle. Personally I often tie the fly with just one feather for the wing, although the original seems to prescribe two. Since the feather is tied centrally on the top of the hook shank, I see no reason to use two feathers unless you want volume or stiffness.

Also a road - Yes, the E12 is also a European road that actually goes through some excellent caddis regions in Norway, Sweden and Finland
Also a road
Europea 12
TypeDry fly
Tony Burnand or André Rago
Target species
Brook trout
Brown trout
Rainbow trout (landlocked)

HookDown eye dry fly hook, size 10-16
BodyBrown dry fly dubbing
RibTying thread
WingOne or two mallard breast feathers (Any suitable feather will do. Pheasant or partridge is also an option)
HackleBrown or grizzly
HeadTying thread

Tying steps
Step 1 - hook - Use a down eye dry fly hook. This is fairly large - a size 10
Step 1 - hook
Step 2 - start the thread - Start the thread by doubling it, creating a long loop for the rib and taking the thread to the hook bend
Step 2 - start the thread
Step 3 - prepare dubbing - You need just a bit to make a slim body
Step 3 - prepare dubbing
Step 4 - dub body - Create a slim, cylindrical body
Step 4 - dub body
Step 5 - body done - The finished body is the full length of the hook shank with a bit of room for the wing and the hackle
Step 5 - body done
Step 6 - ribbing - Rib the body in 4-5 turns in the opposite direction of the dubbing
Step 6 - ribbing
Step 7 - ribbing done - Tie down the rib
Step 7 - ribbing done
Step 8 - foundation - Trim the rib and create a foundation for the wing and hackle
Step 8 - foundation
Step 9 - feather - Pick a mallard breast feather for the wing
Step 9 - feather
Step 10 - feather ready - Remove the webby part to create an almost triangular shape
Step 10 - feather ready
Step 11 - loose wraps - Place the feather on top of the shank and take a couple of loose wraps over the stem
Step 11 - loose wraps
Stwp 12 - pull feather - Pull on the stem while holding on the wraps and make the feather collapse and create a narrow, roof shaped wing flush with the hook bend
Stwp 12 - pull feather
Step 13 - secure wing - Take some firm wraps over the wing base
Step 13 - secure wing
Step 14 - hackle - Trim the wing butt and get out a suitable, brown feather for the hackle
Step 14 - hackle
Step 15 - tie in hackle - Tie in the hackle pointing backwards, shiny side out
Step 15 - tie in hackle
Step 16 - wrap hackle - Wrap the hackle forwards in 3-4 close turns
Step 16 - wrap hackle
Step 17 - tie down - Tie down the hackle with a wrap or two
Step 17 - tie down
Step 18 - hackle done - The hackle is wrapped and the surplus trimmed off
Step 18 - hackle done
Step 19 - head - Pull back the hackle and take a few wraps to press it back
Step 19 - head
Step 20 - done - Whip finish and cut the thread and the fly is done. You can varnish over the final wraps for increased durability
Step 20 - done

I like to keep the fly low profile with a slender body and a wing that lies flat over the body, straddling it slightly. Some people tie the wing longer than I do - up to 1½ times the hook length. I personally prefer the wing to end over the hook bend. And I like an even, well defined and rather bushy hackle that gives the fly some frontal volume and support. Other E:12's are tied with sparse hackles, but I like the volume and I think the profile of the somewhat beefy and clumsy natural caddises calls for a sturdy front to the fly. I have seen E-12's tied with maybe 5-6 turns of hackle and even some using the technique where two hackles are mixed - like a brown and a grizzly. I usually use one hackle and find 3-4 turns enough to create the volume I want. But even a beefy E:12 will not be a fly with a lot of volume. Tied as described above the fly is actually quite slender and low profile.
I also like dark colors for the materials - brownish rather than tan - which also contrasts the yellow tying thread in a way that appeals to me more than maybe the fish.

Caddis water

Fishing the E.12
Fishing the fly is no big deal. It's fished like any caddis: drifted still in the surface with the experimental streak or twitch to see if that can attract attention. It's not a super floater and treating it with some floatant can aide it's time in the surface. But should it get drenched and start sinking beyond what amadou or some dry shake can cure, do not necessarily change to a new fly, but try fishing it just in the surface.
The fly can have a tendency to land on its side or even upside down, which shouldn't worry you too much. The fish don't seem to mind, so neither should you. If you are bothered by your E:12 flies not landing upright, you can consider trimming the underside of the hackle, which can sometimes force the fly to sit nicely in the surface with the wing and body over and in the film and the hook point under.

Ready to wreck havoc

User comments
From: steve - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted February 7th 2014

does anyone know how to tie the Thick Wing Caddis (tied by PetterG)? Thanks for your help.

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted January 9th 2014

Very close to the Henryville indeed, but not quite the same.

The US fly has a very pronounced body hackle, and uses traditional quill wings combined with wood duck or mallard fibers, where the Eurpea has no hackle and uses a whole duck feather (or two) for the wing. But apart from that the flies are surprisingly identical in overall appearance.

The Henryville is a caddis fly imitation like the Europea, created pre-WWII like the Europea. It was originated by Hiram Brobst for use on the the Henryville in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.

Whether one is inspired by the other or not is unknown to me, but as with many other fly patterns, the chance of two almost similar flies being created independently is pretty high. Especially with generic flies such as these caddis imitations, which after all have to have a caddis profile and therefore inevitably will wind up somewhat identical.

See how to tie the Henryville Special in our video section.


From: G.Meyer - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted January 8th 2014

A European Henryville Special.

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted July 12th 2013


Thanks ... and sorry. Swedish isn't a core competence. It's been fixed.


From: Peter - Full name and email anonymized  Link
Submitted July 12th 2013


Not "e-tollan" but "e-tolvan"


Peter from Sweden

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