Posts Tagged ‘chironomids


Fly Fishing: Hi-Jinx’ed (Midges Flush)

Hi-Jinx Midge Emerger (SwittersB)

Stillwater, conventional, fly fishing wisdom is to present your chironomid/midge pattern in a vertical posture from the muck to the surface. I agree with this. There are always exceptions. I can recall  moving from one part of a lake to another and trolling along a midge pupa, that had to be bobbing between vertical to horizontal as I rowed, and getting nailed. But, a stationary, vertical presentation toward the surface is predominantly called for.

That said, I have had excellent results with a horizontal presentation for midge emergers in the film. Retrieved back, twitched or wind drifting, a pattern tied and presented in a horizontal path does provide positive results on top.

Now I am talking stillwaters, re that maneuver. On the slower tailouts of rivers, a drag free, dry fly presentation is appropriate. A light wire hook is better on a river to maintain a mostly horizontal position for the fly. The rear end of the fly will cant downward because of the lack of a tail to prop the fly up in the surface, or pattern design.

With the Hi-Jinx pattern above, the fly is tied smaller on a size 16 hook. This is not a bad idea for some patterns: still go somewhat small for the hook size and then reduce further the pattern size on the shank of the hook. The positives of the pattern will overcome the perceived negatives of the exposed hook. Pattern + Presentation will usually overcome most negatives.   


Stillwater Rigging, Techniques and ‘Bungs’?

A couple interesting pieces at GFF re rigging the Diawl Bach (Little Devil) and Buzzers on a reservoir-loch-lake near you. It is a bit early for many of us either because of ice or regs. But, for others it is a timely impetus to brave the cold winds and waves. A bung is a word for a strike indicator. Defined as a:  ‘A kind of plug or cork..’  My mom had a much different and derisive use of bung coupled with hole aimed at those she shook her fist at (she was a feisty, old German women): ‘a cork or other stopper for the hole in a barrel, cask, or keg; a bunghole’. I know. I just launched into that when I saw the GFF reference to bung for a strike indicator. I hadn’t considered the word in years. I think I will use indicator, even bobber.

A. Ferguson commented at SB re a previous post on his slick, slender buzzer pattern. So, given the piece by GFF re slender, chrionomid-buzzer patterns we’ll show this excellent tutorial (SBS: Step By Step) again “The Electro Static Buzzer SBS”.

Many in B.C. will take exception with my comment, and I don’t blame you, but the seemingly definitive experts on fishing chironomids are the Brits. Different techniques perhaps? Perhaps not. Either way, good to study the techniques and patterns from the lochs and reservoirs.


Fly Tying: Down Sizing Fly Selection

“The average fly fisherman can have a bug in his hand and 90% of the time the will think that a size 18 is a size 14.  This is particularly true when the bug has taken flight and they are observed in the air.  A little caddis flutters by and Billy Bob reaches for his size 14 Elk Hair Caddis when in all reality he’s been fooled by the flapping wings and should be pulling a size 18.  Nymphs are very much the same.  An angler seines up a glob of crap off the bottom and all this bugs are crawling around in it.  His eye will be drawn to the largest bug first and in a lot of cases, all brain function ceases at that point.  He ties on a size 14 Pheasant Tail Nymph despite the fact that the rest of that glob of goop is crawling with size 20 Baetis nymphs.  We have a tendency to fall into the “Big Mac” syndrome and think that the fish are going to eat the biggest meal available when in reality they are going to eat whatever they have to expend the least energy to take.” Poudre Canyon Chronicles

BH Midge Pupa, Size 20 (SwittersB)

This is so true. We tie many patterns too large because it is easier and rationalized. We don’t recognize bug size and consequently reduce our odds of contact with fish during certain hatches/drifts. The size 14 is easier to see than the size 18. The hook up seems more likely with the bigger fly. Of late, I know that my larger ties are primarily an issue of eye sight and tying station backdrop. I will say that I tied 4 of these pupa’s before I got the wire wraps worthy of a photograph and only knew that after the photo was taken. Definitely need smaller beads. Midge patterns, small midge patterns, do not have to have obsessive attention to detail (wire body above). Simple thread bodies in different colors, ribbed with ultra fine wire, or contrasting thread or fine tinsels will do.


Fly Tying: Chironomid~Midge~Buzzer Emerger

Aside from an Adams, how often do you use grey in any of your patterns. I have highlighted the ‘Little Grey’ nymph before (a very simple nymph tie). Grey is kind of that forgotten color. A neutral color, it seems to have fallen away since muskrat and other grey furs are less utilized in tying these days. Grey or Gray, the color is a nice natural color in nature that lends itself to contrasting materials (ribbing and darker materials). The pattern here has a grey dubbed body with black wire ribbing. The hackle is starling and the thread a little heavy 8/0 on a size 16 hook.


Fly Tying: Ian Akers on Buzzers

Shucked Deer Hair Emerger (Ian Akers at Practical Fly Fishing & Fly Tying)

Buzzers and alike at Practical Fly Fishing and Fly Tying


Buzzer-Midge Pupa Construction (wing buds)

Typical Midge Pupa's by SwittersB

Typical Midge Pupa's by SwittersB



Midlander's Bubble Gray Boy Pupa (wing buds)

Midlander's Bubble Gray Boy Pupa (wing buds)


I have noticed a decided difference in UK chironomid pupa construction from the West. UK patterns are sleeker, seldom bead headed and often possess the addition of a ‘wing bud’; almost its own attractor it would seem. I have experimented with this a bit. A couple good midge sites (buzzer, chironomids, gnats)

 “Slim buzzers are really important: the creatures you are imitating are not bulky at any point of their anatomy – so why should your artificial one be so? Secondly, pick a target feature to incorporate in your dressing. In most buzzers the wing bud is quite a distinct feature in the natural, so many fly-tiers emphasise this element. I believe I told readers about this a few weeks ago when I was going through some early season patterns. I use “Tulip T-shirt” paint to get my buzzers with a target spot, but there are many other bits and pieces used. One of the most common materials to get this wing bud effect is a slither cut from a “Walkers” chicken flavoured crisps packet, whilst other tyers use a couple of turns of fluorescent floss silk.”


chironomid, midge, gnat (klaus peter brodersen’s amazing images)

Midge Pupa

Midge Pupa

Pictures give you the elements of proportions, detail and colors. Then you have to learn your materials and visualize matching the images you can find re each insect. Matching existing patterns and trusting the tier matched the actual insect is ok…but, when you can come across the hard work of others like Brodersen or at…then it is all up to you to match or use the impressionistic style. Walk into any flyshop, craft store or fabric store (yes, you can cruise amongst the bolts, threads, yarns and patterns looking for something unique…and cheap) and you look at a material to do what? Color, flash, translucence, movement, life.    


Midge Male and Chironomids (Pupa’s, Emerger’s, Dry’s)


My ties below. With beads and without. Use V-Rib for some bodies and permanent marker for top portion of abdomen. Legs were either Starling hackle tips or reverse portion of hackle pulled from stem. A few bodies were simply black thread bodies and black, small or fine wire ribbing. Dry’s: Griffiths Gnat in two sizes; also, size 18 simple wets of black or gray thread body with a simple wound Starling wing. The Emerger is black biot body overlayed with black or red Krystal Flash strand. A chunk of white foam is tied in horizontally just back from the eye. A small Peacock thorax and simple dun wrap of hackle finishes it off. Frankly, the biot wrap in small flies has been problematic for me and I don’t believe worth the effort to affix the biot on such a small fly (14). I have successfully tied a few small strands of marabou or small black ostrich in and then ribbed it. Much easier.   

Pretty detailed stuff re Chironomidae (Midges). Greek ur Latin to me. Also, a more general entomology link with some good pics. 

 The Emerger to the right is an example of the abdomen built from a strand or two of black marabou and ribbed with red tinsel. Narrow ostrich feathers could also be used. The peacock is used to build the thorax and to cover the thread wraps securing the foam wing “bow tie”.   










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 and; both wonderful sites. 


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