Hatches Made Easy:

Midges - Fly Patterns

I have found that most anglers that fish the Smokies have few, if any, midge
patterns. Midges are available and eaten by trout throughout the year in all the
trout streams of the park. The main reason anglers pay little attention to the
midge is that they simply just do not believe the tiny flies will catch trout in the
small freestone streams.
When it comes to matching midges, it is strictly a matter of matching the shape,
size and color of the stage of life of the midge. This is not as simple as many
would like for it to be because there are many different colors and sizes of
The sizes can range from a hook size 18 to 32. There are many
species of midges that are even smaller but it becomes purely impractical to
imitate them.
Midges do not have commercially available species specific patterns. In fact,
there are not many available patterns that imitate all the shapes, sizes and
colors for the larva, papa and adults. What is available doesn't look much like
the naturals. The most effective flies are tied by anglers familiar with midges that
they have found effective on their home waters, especially the spring creeks and
Because there are so many different colors, segmentation differences and sizes
of midges at their different stages of life, it is far best to obtain actual samples of
the insects from the water. Short of going to that amount of trouble, I would
suggest you
try a cream color for the larva. Use the same color for the pupa
with a darker color, such as brown
, for the wing pad (thorax) area. The
adults are usually dark brown or black.
You will notice that a large number of commercially flies and many that are tied
by anglers have some flashy or colorful additions to them. Such stuff as Krystal
Flash is used to add glitter or flashy effects to the fly. I have seen thousands, if
not more, midge larvae and pupae in the samples we have obtained in the park
looking for other species of insects, mayflies, stoneflies, etc. When we take
samples from the streams looking for other aquatic insects almost every sample
has midge larvae and/or pupae in it. I have yet to see a midge in any stage of  
life that was flashy or shinny. In fact,
they tend to be dull or drab colors.
Some anglers think that it is necessary to have some type of flashy attraction on
the fly to make it easier for the trout to see the fly. Well it probably makes it
easier for them to see them alright, and it probably makes it easier for them to
reject it.
Flashy additions to the fly are great for getting the attention of
dumb, stocked trout, but that is about all they are good for.
You will also notice a large number of midge imitations have bead heads. I have
yet to see a midge larva or pupa in our samples taken anywhere that had a
bead head. Now granted, the added weight of the bead head helps to get the fly
down and from that very important standpoint, they help. However, in my
opinion, you will be far better off if you use a better imitation of the natural and
placed added weight above the fly. Even the wild trout are not smart enough to
figure out what is going on if the weight is placed a few inches from the fly. In the
slow moving water where midges hatch (which is also cold and clear) trout are
able to get a good look at the fly.
Personally, I don't like ninety percent of the commercially available midge
imitations. Flashy, colorful flies sell. I spent many days with my close friend, Tom
Mann, world renounced designer of bass, freshwater and saltwater fish lures.
Over a billion of his lures have been sold. In test after test, he noted that if some
colorful added attraction was added to any of his lures, the sells increased
considerably. Fire tails (flashy colors) were added to his famous "Sting Ray"
grubs and "Jelly Worms", for example. When an angler caught a fish on one with
the fire tail, he or she would swear the fire tail was the reason. Did they catch
more fish? In test after test he preformed, the fire tails did not catch as many.
The lures sold like hot cakes though.
Flashy flies attract fisherman. If the trout had to rely on flash or bright
colors to detect their food, they would all starve to death.
Again, you would probably be better off if you tied your own midge imitations.
However, here are some popular midge imitations you might try.

Generic Imitations:
Mono Midge
Kimbal’s Diptera Emerger
Small Humpies
Foam or CDC Suspenders
Simple One Hackle
Palomino Midge

Coming Up Next:
Little Black Caddis

Copyright 2008 James Marsh