Buzzers or chironomids are the stuff of stillwater fishing throughout the open-water period but particularly in the spring and early summer. These insects are usually large (#16 – #10), and the trout just gorge on them. Contrast these with the “midge” from rivers, mainly tailwaters but also spring creeks. These guys appear in the winter and early spring, and provide trout with the sustenance they need when their metabolism is the lowest it will be all year. These fish dine on midge and daphnia and want to do anything other than move. These trout are like baleen whales just letting the small bits of food drift into their mouth and need a midge pupa fly that will catch their eye, not get lost in moving water, and look natural under close scrutiny.
The reasons behind nymph fly selection are logical enough. Midge come at a time and place that require an impeccable profile to entice a trout to suck it in. Being able to sight fish helps a lot, of course, so that you can drift that fly right on the fish’s nose multiple times. That’s one of the major reasons I fish this simple fly pattern; the essence of the fly is profile. Once I can have a fish pay attention to my midge pupa fly, he’s probably going to commit. That’s why I want this fly to skirt the edge of exact imitation with just enough exaggeration of profile and color (with a little flash) to make that fish commit.
The profile of this midge pupa fly resembles the majority of small mayflies and midge pupa during an active hatch. You can contrast this with the longer larval form of the insect and the patterns you should use to imitate this form, like the blood midge pattern. It’s really effective when both midge and small mayflies are going nuts, but it’s just a super effective fly for tailwaters and sight fishing. The fly has just a bit of flash for shallower water during bright sunlight to get that fish to commit as hundreds of similar naturals drift by. The simplicity of the pattern lets you tie them in the dozens as well, and it’s a cheap fly, so you shouldn’t cry when you lose it in a snag. Finally, when you do get that twenty inch trout to take the midge pupa fly, you’ve got a nice and sturdy hook to keep him buttoned. This fly makes life easy for me. See if it does the same for you on those cold winter days with those slightly smaller baleen whales.
- Hook: Tiemco 3769 (#16 – #18) or Tiemco 101 (#22 – #24)
- Thread: (black 8/0 or 10/0)
- Body: Hareline Micro Tubing (black)
- Flash: Silver Holographic (magnum flashabou or silver holographic tinsel medium)
- Head: Same black thread
- Lacquer/Glue: Hard-as-hull or Zap-a-gap
**note: the short length 3769 allows you to use a size bigger, e.g., a #18 is like a #20. The wire is also nice and strong for bigger fish.
Great video. Will tie some up. Used the traditional Zebra yesterday with great success, so am excited about midges. Thanks.
Thanks so much for the kind words. Shocking at the size of some of the fish that will eat midges. A black Zebra midge with a silver bead is one of my go-to patterns as a dropper on Western tailwaters. I particularly like it when you’ve got BWOs and midges hatching at the same time, but I’ve also found it to work awesome year-round as a dropper.
This black midge pupa is great when you want a really nice profile, often with some current. It’s also great if you want the pattern to not plummet to the bottom, but rather ride up a little off of the bottom. Sometimes, bead heads and weighted patterns will stick to the bottom too much, unless you’re doing tight-line tactics.
Thanks again, and let me know how you do.