It amazes me how many customers who fish my Fly Assortments comment on how “small” some of the flies are. And they are certainly not referring to one of my classic flies like a big ol’ Wooly Bugger or a Size 12 Pheasant Tail Nymph. Instead, they are expressing their reluctance to tie on a small midge pattern such as a Zebra Midge or a Griffith’s Gnat. But, the reason why I include these options in my many of my assortments are very simple. EVERY fisherman, from beginner to expert, should have midge patterns somewhere in their fly fishing vest.
There are really only 3 stages to the Midge Life Cycle that an angler needs to understand, nymph, emerger, and adult stage. Of these 3 stages, I recommend focusing mainly on the first two: nymph and emerger, because most midges are eaten by trout in their subsurface stages.
I carry midge nymphs in a variety of colors and sizes. I really like the Zebra Midge since it is tied with a bead head that will help it drop down quickly to where the trout are feeding in the colder weather. It isn’t too fancy, but it gets the job done. The colors that I always have with me are black, brown, olive, yellow, and red. You can get this pattern in many other colors, but these 5 colors are essential.
Once midges move out of the nymph stage, they begin to float to the surface of the water with a small bubble. This is called the emerger stage, and in this stage, they are vulnerable to be eaten by a trout. In order to imitate the emerger, I recommend 3 popular patterns: The UV Midge Emerger, Top Secret Midge Emerger, and the CDC Midge Emerger in my 5 recommended colors.
If a midge is fortunate to make it to the Adult stage, there are a few options to consider to grab a hungry trout. My top 2 recommended dry midge patterns are actually attractor patterns called the Griffith’s Gnat and Gray Ugly. At first glance they are very similar. Both are very “buggy” and small. I fish them in Sizes 18-22 mostly. The Gray Ugly sports a green body with light hackle, whereas a Griffith’s Gnat typically has a black body with grey hackle throughout.
Before you slip on your fly fishing waders and head out to your favorite body of water, let’s make sure that you have the appropriate fly fishing setup.
I recommend the following:
Start out with some basic larvae in the mid-morning and move to the adults in the late afternoon as you see the bugs scattering along the water. If your midge larvae does not have a bead head consider using a split shot or two to sink your midge fly. Often times I try to sink my fly the deepest in the mornings by having the most weight on my line. I will remove weight as the day continues. Also, vary your midge colors until one particular color gets hot. I also recommend focusing on pockets of slow moving water outside of the fast current. In the winter, the trout are less active than in the warmer months so they are typically in gentler water.
In summary, Fly Midges are THE PRIMARY FOOD SOURCE FOR TROUT IN THE WINTER! A body of water in the winter with active midge hatches is going to induce far more strikes on midges than a Wooly Bugger or a San Juan Worm. So, what are you waiting for? Stop by feedercreekfish.com for a great selection of midges and let’s have some fun!
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