I am not a diligent fisher of midges (Canada: Chironomids; Britain: Buzzer; and to some crusty flyfishers: gnats). I think the technique is much akin to moulding a ball of multi colored Power Bait on a small treble hook and casting it out to set off the bottom…then setting on the shore line in an aluminum folding chair, muttering to your bundled up fishing partner about medicare’s inadequacies. (Where did that come from).
But, as I have said before, the insect has it’s purpose. I recently met a ‘gnat’ fisherman, who does not waste much time fishing size 18 and 20 pupas. Instead, he fishes size 14’s and adjusts the tied insect up or down in size upon the shank. This is a technique that is not new but overlooked except in low water steelhead patterns and Atlantic Salmon patterns.
Last year on Oregon’s East Lake, I was on the water for the last hour’s predictable hatch (actually I was out there for hours and that carried over into the last hour) and as usual a midge hatch commenced. I had hits and takes on small flies while trying to match the hatch..I was using a size 18 version of a small mayfly as I had not tied any realistic midge adults. I caught nothing of any size, yet I could see fishing well over 18″ working the surface (yes the riseform was porpoising) so I switched to a Griffith’s Gnat, size 18. I had no form of emerger, just pupas and Palomino’s and Griffith’s.
Well, I did hook a gorgeous fish on a tiny Griffith’s Gnat. I don’t like to exaggerate, but it was honestly beyond 18″ and so thick. I played that fish or actually it played me as it streaked about and dove straight down with such power. I was using a 5 wt. and it was arched often with the tip drawn down below the surface by the power of that fish. Yes, I clamped down and rushed. I did not relax, enjoy and let it play itself out. The fish never came to hand and was lost. I have a dozen or so images of glistening slabs that have shattered my calm, my composure on a lake or river. I remember them more than the thousand more C&R’s. The power and beauty of those fish remain etched in my memories and when wanderlust or nostalgia creeps in, those individual images or clips play in my mind’s eye. No regrets…just awe and a sigh.
But, I digress, I am going to do two things…tie a midge emerger, pupa and adult on a larger hook (14 per the gnat man) and size the body up or down.
The pics above are mostly instructive of a couple of points. The bead head pupa is the standard I have used and it works well. The pupa with the reddish wing bud is an example of the ‘buzzer’ pupa from Britain and I have not utilized that identifier that much but it is perhaps worth employing in more pupa patterns, much like Chan’s red butt section on his pupa’s.
Palomino Midges are a good pattern and easy to tie. The previously shown Shuttlecock and the McConnell are excellent as well and could fit into the emerger or do fit into the emerger roll.
So, I will enjoy a bigger hook size; perfect a smaller bodied fly on a bigger hook and focus on emergers. Also, less vertical presentation (the normal pupa presentation) and more just sub-surface work. If I have to do the vertical work then I will watch for opportunities to fish shallower water of say 6′ or less rather than deeper (talking lakes here).
Sorry for the lay out. Still having trouble with the layout of photos. The photos are from Troutflies.com and Westfly.com; both wonderful sites.