Posts Tagged ‘gnat


Design & Color: Using Basic Black……..

Black Gnat SwittersB

Basic Black: do you remember when every woman had the basic black skirt and slacks as a foundation to their wardrobe? Perhaps they still do…at least the skirt. Well such is the necessary fly fishing presentation of basic black. A black gnat tied small: size 18 hook, black 8/0 thread body, black dubbing ball for thorax and few turns of a small starling feather. You could add a tail of black hackle fibers if you wanted to lean towards a mayfly vs. the midge/chironomid/gnat imitations. Here, I used the 8/0 for the thread head and may, aesthetically, have done better to finish off the fly with a smaller 14/0 thread for the head. 

This small, simple pattern was suggested to me several years ago by a gnat fanatic fly fisher. He almost exclusively fishes “gnats” in black, brown, yellow, olive, tan….simply changing the thread color for the abdomen when tying the pattern. He does quite well in the reaches of the Western U.S. No bead head, no ribbing, no fuss. Mostly just basic black….and good presentations.


Fly Tying: 2 Strands of Krytal Flash Midge

Here is a simple midge/chironomid pattern, on a size 20 hook, that I tied using two strands of Krystal Flash (peacock color) and a portion of one peacock herl. The thread was 14/0. Simply tie in at the bend of the hook and then tie in two strands of peacock Krsytal Flash. Wrap those two strands forward toward the thorax portion of the fly (final 1/3 to 1/4 of the shank). Tie off the strands and leave two short tag ends, which are forced to the rear by the thread wraps. I then create two additional small tags by tying in a small portion of flash on each side of the thorax. Then the one herl is tied in by the butt and wrapped two times to form the thorax. Finish off a thread head. Simple, flashy…a small dropper that I can get a tippet through the eye of the hook.This a nice beginner’s pattern that is a productive stillwater or stream pattern.


Fly Tying: Bubble Back Midge (Cool Concept by Hans Stephenson)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This is a simple, unique pattern that is a nice little midge pattern. I wonder if the elevated bubble with the undercut edge of the bead would afford a good way to tie a parachute pattern? Well, that is perhaps over thinking it…as is, it is a good little pattern.


Midge Mania

Some would say cursed (my kids) by the afflictions of always on time (actually early) and Semper Paratus…I am often arriving early to meetings and killing time sitting in the rig or as I have come to do…wandering a bookstore. Recently, I was killing time in Medford, Oregon at a Barnes & Noble and came across a book that begged the question ‘how many variations of a chironomid/midge can there possibly be to warrant a sizeable book?’ Apparently many. Sorry for the cell phone blur…but you get the idea…

The book has a nice layout and covers every conceivable variation of chironomid, midge, buzzer, gnat…. you are bound to find something new to experiment with…I did. I did not spring, but given the detail and thoroughness of the book, it is worth the price (I won’t quote, given the various resources out there to acquire books in the store or online).


Gnat’s Ass (Chironomid-Midge-Buzzer Dry)

Fly tier (or is it tyer?) admission: Because of lighting, eye sight and a lack of commitment, I have not really ever committed to tying anything smaller than a size 18. I have not made the psychic leap that a small gaped, size 22 will penetrate the jaw of any fish over 14 inches. Yes, yes it does in fact do so…it is me. So, don’t pay attention to my doubts. Let the successes of other small fly fanatics speak for itself ….hookups. With that in mind I tied a few (actually several dozen). They are now tucked in with my Griffith’s Gnats (18’s).


Size 20 Pupa hook, Size 8/0 thread (I should have used 14/0), a Zelon wing was tied in first, then 3 pheasant tail fibers were tied in half the distance from mid-shank to the eye, then a small dry fly quality hackle suitable for a size 20 hook was tied in and wrapped several times then tied off, the butt sections of the previously tied in pheasant tail barbs were then pulled over the top of the wound hackle or thorax area as a wingcase and tied off. The excess materials can be seen to be protruding out…but I could not see them while tying. Not sure it really hurts anything as long as the thread wraps for the head are tight to keep those materials secure.



Wow! That actually looks nice. A size 18 dry fly quality hook, 8/0 thread, an underwing of Zelon was tied in at the mid point of the shank, then a white CDC feather was folded in half with the tip meeting the butt section. The mid point (or spot where the CDC stem was bent) was tied in behind the eye with the tip and butt section extending to the rear and past the bend of the hook. A wingcase of mottled Thinskin was tied in at the mid point of the shank and then a dry fly quality hackle (size 18) was tied in at the thorax area and wound then tied off at the eye. The wing case was pulled over the top of the wound hackle and tied off at the eye. Again, a smaller diameter thread (14/0) may have been better.  I tied a bunch of these and they look way better to the camera lens then to my eyes.


The Griffith’s Gnat (The Cluster of Hatching Chironomids~Midges)

Griffith Gnat@gass81 at photobucket

Griffith Gnat@gass81 at photobucket

The Griffith Gnat is frequently suggested as a midge pattern for the emergence of midges (chironomids, buzzers, gnats) and I would imagine, as a beginner, few of you take it seriously. It seems to be the obligatory pattern to mention, but you seldom hear of anyone actually using it or showing the big one caught on the size 18 Griffith Gnat. It is a pain (for me) to tie in a size 18 without premium hackle. I tie it on a size 16, but tie it smallish. I also, tie 18’s but struggle to not overdress and to use those small premium hackles.

My opinion of his fly is that is it not used enough by the beginner. I have had numerous fish take the fly, but have had two memorable fish to the GG. One at Hosmer Lake (Oregon) at the boat ramp, kicking at last light (a gorgeous Atlantic Salmon) and another, at East Lake (Oregon) at the time of night when the light is fading and the midges are coming off (a slab of a rainbow). Both of these fish took the size 18 GG and I fought both quite awhile and I horsed both after repeated dives into pads and weeds. I lost both and both fish left me stunned at their size. I became a believer and have since decided to experiment with a slightly bigger hook, while striving to tie a compact body.   

The pattern is simple enough: a size 16-18 fine wire hook; peacock herl, grizzly hackle suitable for a size 18 dry fly and 8/0 or 14/0 thread. The peacock and hackle stem are tied in at the rear and the peacock body is wrapped forward forming a full body and tied off. Then the hackle is palmered forward in wraps similar to a Woolly Bugger’s body formation. The hackle is clipped and the thread head is formed. Use a floating line and keep the faith as you fish it in the film and amid the hatch. Don’t horse the fish.      


Phantom Midge by Jeff Morgan

Phantom Midge~Jeff Morgan

Phantom Midge~Jeff Morgan

Imitates pupae of the phantom midge. Jeff Morgan writes about this pattern: “While not an everyday pattern, this one can save the day when fish are feeding on the pupae of the nearly transparent phantom midge. The name phantom midge originated from the ghoulish ‘face’ that appears on the thorax of the natural, making the creature look like a miniature ghost.

“Standard patterns, with their solid colors and firm silhouettes, are almost worthless if fish are picky. A thin, flashy pattern like this one can be the only answer. A pearlescent fly, while not perfectly the clear-white of the natural, is the best color, since using exclusively clear materials will let the dark hook shank show through. I guess this insect will remain a challenge for tiers to imitate until some wacky engineer comes up with a fluorocarbon fishhook!”

Jeff moved to Nebraska a year or so ago. What an amazing fountain of info re trout, habitat and NW fly fishing! I imagine he has found waters to fish nearby the University and is accumulating even more knowledge. Jeff wrote many fine articles for Westfly-Oregon.


Chironomids, Buzzers, Midges, Gnats (For the B.C. Snowbound, Vertical Flyfisher..June is coming)




Wotton’s Magical Midges (nice looking pupa patterns)

Woton Super Midges

Wotton Super Midges

“DAVY Wotton’s Super Midge’s have been an underground cult pattern on the White River for the last year Super Midges were whispered about, talked about and pontificated on but rarely seen.”


“The Synthetic Living Fiber, or SLF dubbing, is one of Davy’s, so is Prism Dubbing and most of the range produced by Wapsi. Wapsi bought Davy’s dubbing business before he moved to Arkansas,…”  




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.    

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