Winter Fly Fishing

Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail

I’m always on the lookout for those special flies that just seem to work.  You know, the ones you tie on when you need  to catch a fish. It might not catch all of them, but it should work on at least a few.

For me, the soft hackle pheasant tail nymph is one of them.  Just last weekend, I had taken my fiance to fish the Big Thompson tailwaters below Estes Park for the first time.  The fishing up there is notoriously technical but thought it was the best chance to get her on some nice fish. Sure, they might not have a PhD, but I would say at least a bachelors. So what do you think I tied on to fool a couple geeky fish?  A size 20 soft hackle pheasant tail. (And a Ray Charles as the bottom fly.)

Long story short, it worked.  While everybody else was busy not catching fish with their exquisitely tied, anatomically correct baetis imitations, she was hooking into them with one of the oldest, most classic flies in the sport!  It was beautiful.

Not only does a soft hackle pheasant tail work well on a dead drift, but equally well on a swing.  When trout are rising to a mayfly hatch, try gently swinging the fly in front of them to mimic a nymph rising to the surface to emerge.  It’s a killer strategy. Another great thing about this fly is that it’s a good all-round imitation to any mayfly nymph. Possibly even a caddis pupa.  (Don’t forget the Mother’s Day hatch is coming up!)  Try fishing this as the point fly in a double-nymph rig along deep channels when no discernible hatch is in progress.

Basically, what I’m saying is ‘tie one on’.  Sure, it’s an oldie  -but it’s a goodie.

For those that would like to tie their own, here is a great video from IntheRiffle. You’ll be tying them up like a pro in no time!

IntheRiffle Soft Hackle Pheasant Tail


Starting right now, we’re rolling out a new feature to our blog

-AFG’s “Fly Tested-Fish Approved.”

Every week we will be posting a tidbit, person, or website that we have deemed to be awesome.  Now I have never claimed to be a good fishermen (or writer), but I know that I’m better than I used to be. And I owe it all to the tremendous help I’ve received from fellow fishermen and women-both in-person, and in their contributions online.  This is our way of saying “Thanks.”

So to kick it off right, our first edition of AFG’s Fly Tested-Fish Approved, we bring you The Midge Manifesto.  Half of what I know about midges comes straight from the sacred blog posts of Midgeman.

Thank you Midgeman. Without you, I’d still think they’re all ‘mosquitoes’.

Poudre Canyon Chronicles~Midge Manifesto

Poudre Canyon Chronicles~Midge Manifesto

Midge Larvae Flies

Midge Larvae Flies

I think a lot of anglers overlook the importance of using midge larva. I mean, they’re typically boring and ugly looking…like what I think about ratatouille-nasty crap. But, it doesn’t matter what we think, it’s about what the fish think.  I’ve found that fishing midge larva patterns during winter mornings before the bugs get moving is a sure way to get your day started out right. They also seem to work well after a hatch too, when the trout are no longer rising.

Like I had written in a previous post about sow bugs and scuds, midge larvae also make up a large part of a trout’s diet. But unlike other bugs such as Blue Wing Olive nymphs or Pale Morning Duns, midge larvae typically don’t cause selective feeding. The trout take them opportunistically. It’s kind of like, “I’m never really craving a Hot Pocket, but I wouldn’t say no if you made me one.”

Lately, I’ve been starting most of my days fishing sow bug patterns like a Ray Charles-or a scud pattern like a hunchback’s scud, trailed by either a red, cream, or olive midge larva pattern. This combo seems to work very well fished along the bottom in the slower, deeper water where winter fish often hang when there’s not much going on. One thing to remember is that the slower the current, the longer the lag time between the strike, and the consequent jitter of the indicator.  If you notice anything; and I mean ANYTHING happen to your indicator, set the hook! I can’t stress that enough.

I think a common mistake made by fishermen (me included) is that we’ll often fish larvae patterns too small. Remember that the larval form of a midge is quite a bit longer, skinnier, and often of a different color that that of an adult…or even the pupa.  For instance, the adult black midges that have been hatching over this last month are about a size 20, with a solid black body. The pupa has a dark olive body with a dark brown thorax. (Size 20).  This same fly in its larval form is actually around a size 18 with the body color ranging from almost transparent to olive-depending how far along they are in development.

If you’re ever in doubt on what color/size of midge larvae to fish, just dredge an aquarium net through the first inch of sediment along the river (or lake) bottom.  Midges spend most of their development time in the silt and they’re so numerous on most waters that you’re likely to find at least one or two in the first scoop!

I always enjoy meeting other fishermen/women, and this morning was no different.  I was just about to make my first cast when a guy with only two weeks of fly fishing experience came over and struck up a conversation.  He watched me catch the first fish of the day and helped with the camera. Five minutes later I had us both rigged up with my secret weapon-a size 22 3XLong olive tube midge larva, and things proceeded to get Biblical.  I love watching people light up when they connect on a beautiful fish.


Proof to the effectiveness of fishing midge larvae patterns

Proof to the effectiveness of fishing midge larvae patterns

The Ray Charles

Even though midges, who’s sizes range from a #18 down to #32, are usually the most consistent food source to trout during the winter, there are still numerous other bugs they’ll take that are at least slightly larger than your average midge.  (That means you can put the magnifying glass back in your pocket.) What else do trout eat during the winter? The short answer, anything they can find, including various mayfly nymphs, stoneflies, caddis larva, black fly larva, sculpins, smaller trout, eggs, and of course, sowbugs and scuds.

Sowbugs and scuds often inhabit tailwaters because of the vegetation that grows within the stream.   Both of these critters dwell and feed off of these plants-unlike freestone streams where spring runoff and ice flows scour the rocks clean each year typically making them unsuitable places for them to live.  Sowbugs are more adaptable than scuds and can be found in slightly smaller numbers in freestone streams than in tailwaters.  This is because they dwell around and under mossy rocks away from the current instead of swimming like scuds do.

I’ve noticed that a number of fly fishers use the term “sowbug” and “scud” interchangeably-like they’re the same creature.  In truth, they’re <I>completely</I> different.  Sowbugs most closely resemble the land-loving rolly polly (pill bug), and scuds look like shrimp-because that’s exactly what they are. Freshwater shrimp.  Scuds swim and sowbugs crawl.  But what they have in common is that they both routinely get caught in the drift, and both pack a tasty protein snack for the trout!

Over this last summer I had fallen in love with Ray Charles…the fly I mean.  It’s a super easy tie that has fooled so many (big) trout in every local stream in my area that I now designate an entire row in my fly box just for them. Below that is another row full of different scud patterns in various colors such as olive or gray to mimic the live ones, and orange to match the dead ones.  Sowbugs are typically gray in color but may vary between drainages.

My favorite scud color is orange, which I’ll normally start out with, But last week, a friend of mine put on a clinic with a #18 <I>gray </I> humpback scud.  Every fish he took was over 18 inches and they were smart, typical of large tailwater trout.  –I guess it goes to show that it pays to experiment.  I was fishing tiny midges all day but didn’t get into the larger fish until I replaced my lead fly with a Ray Charles. Even though that fly is technically a sowbug pattern, it worked just as well as my friends hunchback scud.  Who knows what the trout think, and maybe it doesn’t really matter so long as they’re biting.

This guy was keying on scuds

This guy was taking scuds

This cutbow took a scud pattern

This cutbow took a sowbug  pattern

If you’re planning on fishing this winter, try dead drifting one of these in a size 18 and trail a midge larva/pupa when there isn’t any noticeable hatch going on. I guarantee you’ll be happy you did!




Big Thompson Tailwaters

It’s a fact that we fish better if were comfortable. And nothing tests that notion more than the bone chilling elements of winter. It seems that the colder I get, the more resistant I become to necessary things like swapping out flies that aren’t working, adjusting my indicator and weight, checking my flies for weeds, or even maintaining a stealthy presentation. Once my hands go numb, I turn into a walking catastrophe. Some people even think I get a little crabby-which is total bull; I just get a little testy, ok? In other words, my success while fishing runs parallel to how comfortable I’m feeling.

A lot of people underestimate just how cold it is out there. Most soccer mom’s will tell you (from seasons of experience) to dress for the occasion, and then add an extra layer on top of that. Fishing is no different. If the weather man says it’s going to be sunny, then it’s probably going to be windy because it’s never as pleasant as it should be. Oh, and bring a raincoat-just in case.
Sure, there’s always a few that seem completely resistant to Mother Nature. They don’t wear gloves or a hat; they might even be out there with just a windbreaker on and seem completely comfortable. I, for one, am not one of them, and remain envious as all hell.

So to avoid turning into a diva, and saving your digits from falling off, here’s what I do now (having learned my lessons) and I’ve been nice and (reasonably) toasty ever since.

Winter Fishing Gear

~Gloves included, but not shown

1. Socks-Wool socks are a necessity. I used to double or triple layer cotton socks but have recently replaced them with a single pair of wool. I still use cotton socks-but only one pair, and worn over the top of the wool pair. Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t want your feet to fit so snug into your boots that you lose circulation. It won’t matter how many layers if your blood can’t get to your feet.

2. Pants-Do you have long johns? Put them on. If I’m going out for a full day in the cold I’ll wear a normal pair of jeans plus my one-size-too-big felt pants over those. The felt material insulates very well. That, combined with chest-high waders, equals total comfort. Yes, I would also wear long johns if I had them but my setup now seems to work well enough.

3. Shirts-Like everything else, layering is the key to keeping warm. I start out with a t-shirt, then a long sleeved under-shirt, then top it off with a thick sweater. Again, use wool if you have any.

4. Coats-There’s a lot of different kinds out there and I haven’t tied too many of them so I’ll leave that to your choosing. But remember, it’s usually not the cold; it’s the wind that really penetrates the soul. For me, I wear a thick hoodie with an equally heavy winter coat over the top of that. Normally that’s enough, but if I’m going to be out for a long time or it’s exceptionally windy I’ll put a thin rain slicker (or wind breaker) over the top. The rain slicker, like waders, does a great job of wind blocking.

5. Hats-For some reason, my ears are extremely sensitive to the cold. I’ll get intense headaches if I don’t protect my ears in temperatures lower than 50 degrees. Like coats, there’s a lot of variety and can be whatever you prefer. Just make sure that it it’ll do the job before you head out to the water. Other than warmth-I look for a hat that fits loose enough for me to take my polarized sunglasses on and off without having to remove my cap, but tight enough that it’s not going to blow away in a strong wind. A beanie works pretty well by allowing me to flip the hood of my coats over it easily.

6. Gloves-The biggest problem, at least for me, is trying to keep my hands warm while fishing in the winter. I’ve finally decided that gloves, no matter what kind, are always clunky and frustrating. It’s just part of the game. Wool gloves stay warm, even if they get wet, but are a fly magnet. Always getting flies stuck in the wool has led me to try other materials instead. This winter I’ve tried out a couple different types from Glacier Glove.
The first pair, Ice Bay, is thin, waterproof, and super-grippy. I really like these when either the wind is really blowing, or the temperature is below freezing.
Glacier Glove "Ice Bay"

Glacier Glove "Ice Bay"

Glacier Glove “Ice Bay”

For the life of me, I cannot pinpoint the correct model name, but is essentially a version of Glacier Glove’s “Pro Angler” model. The split-finger design on the thumb and pointer finger alleviates the need to pull your gloves off for every fly change or other delicate operations. These gloves stay reasonably warm around the 30 degree F mark and above but once the pointer finger or thumb gets wet, they tends lose their insulation value. Other than that, they’re comfortable and grippy.

Glacier Glove "Pro Angler"

Glacier Glove “Pro Angler”

Glacier Glove "Pro Angler"

7. Disposable hand warmers-I can’t tell you how many times these disposable heat pads have saved the day for me. They do what they’re supposed to, and they’re most handy for warming up wet hands after releasing a fish. (I also keep a bandanna in my pocket to dry off my hands/gloves) Try sticking them in your gloves and boots (there are boot versions)-For your gloves, position the pad inside the glove so that it’s on the top of your hand instead of the palm since that’s where the pads will be most in contact with your veins.
Hand Warmers

Frostbite is a serious matter that can result in the loss of limbs, death, or permanent nerve damage. Take it easy and don’t push yourself. Always let someone know where you are going and when you’ll be back before venturing out. Live to fish another day :)

Fly Fishing Late Fall

What to do when the mayflies are dead:

10. Cry inside, or on the outside, whatever you feel is best
9. Drink Aqua Seal, just to feel
8. Drive Angrily
7. Swear at wildlife
6. Combine Step 8 and 7
5. Combine Step 8, 7, 9
4. Keep fishing mayfly patterns
3. Buy some #24 midge patterns
2. Buy some 7X
1. Combine step 3 and 2, and some hand warmers, and get back out there!

With that being said, the fall-to-winter transition is basically a subtraction game: The weather gets colder, the days get shorter, the variety of mayflies dwindles, tippet size shrinks, and the hooks get smaller.
But none of that means you can’t catch fish!

Yesterday, I was fishing on one of our local streams and decided to take throat samples from the first six fish landed. Did you catch that? I said I caught SIX fish. …within an hour! So, yes, they’re still biting. Anyway, here is what I found in the samples:
7 adult midges #26-30
2 black fly larva #22
4 black fly pupa #24
5 black fly adults #26
3 blue wing olive nymphs #28-30
2 hydropsyches #24-30
1 little black short horned sedge larva #24
1 brown midge pupa #30
2 orange trout eggs
2 sow bugs #18-22
And a couple tiny snails and a parasitic tube worm

Also, to prove that fishing isn’t an exact science, I was fishing an orange nuclear egg, a Yong special and a top secret midge. After a couple minutes, I finally landed the first fish. He took the egg pattern. But the throat sample showed sow bugs! Well that was interesting because sow bug patterns are not a popular fly on that stretch. So I switched out the egg for a size 18 Ray Charles to match what I just witnessed. A fish took it on the next cast. And then a fat 14 inch brown hammered it on the next. When I took a sample, it showed he had been scarfing on eggs. Not sow bugs. So basically I switched out the egg for the sow bug only to find that the trout had been eaten eggs. …well, and a Ray Charles. Ha, go figure.

I think this post has gotten hopelessly off track but I’m feeling a bit lazy. Basically, what I am getting at is that even though the storybook fall is over, the fishing isn’t. You just need to switch up your tactics a bit and downsize your flies. I rant about the Yong Special (brown) all the time–how it’s a great midge pattern. But did you catch those numbers of black fly larva, pupa and adults that I found in the samples? They’re chowing down on them! I really think why the Y.Special works so well is because it mimics both midge and black fly larva and pupa to a tee. And it works any time of the year. Hell yeah.

On the bottom of this post lists a few of my go-to flies I’ve decided on this year. Typically, I’ll fish the Poison Tung, Rainbow Warrior, or Nuclear Egg as the attractor and trail another, smaller fly behind. Many fishermen use patterns that are too large compared to the naturals. Did you catch the sizes of those flies I sampled? So, in most cases, my leader will terminate to 6X for size 18 flies, 7x for sizes 20 to 24, 8x for size 26, and 10x (if you can find any) for 28′s and 30′s.

Fall Brown Trout

Don’t Forget the [nuclear] eggs

Egg patterns tend to work pretty well in the fall-to-winter transition because that’s typically when the brown trout are swimming up river to spawn. And trout love to eat trout eggs!

Though I do not suggest fishing to spawning trout, if you want to get away from the diabolically small fly situation, try tossing some gnarly streamers. Most fish this time of year are really striving to pack on the pounds before winter sets in. Capitalize on that.

Size 22-30 midges

Size 22-30 midges for fall trout


My Top 6 Fall-Winter Patterns:

7. #22 WD-50 (wine version)

WD-50 (Wine)

6. #26 Black RS2

RS2 (Black)

5. #20 Blue Poison Tung

Tak's Blue Poison Tung

Tak’s Blue Poison Tung

4. #18 Nuclear Egg

Nuclear Egg

3. #18 Rainbow Warrior

Rainbow Warroir

2. #26 Top Secret Midge (black and brown versions)

Dorsey's Top Secret Midge (Black)

1. #24 Yong Special/Bling Midge (brown)

Bling Midge




Fly fishing the Big Thompson Tailwaters in the winter

Midges! The trout love them so why wouldn’t you? In the middle of summer it can be easy to ignore these almost microscopic bugs. Well, at least until you get one stuck in the back of your throat or glued to your eyeball. But other than that, most of us can bypass the pain of threading 8x tippet through a #26 hook and fish a larger bug like a mayfly or caddis. But then the inevitable winter comes and those monster green drakes and march browns disappear like our paychecks. And if you’ve got it bad, and refuse to sit on the couch for 3 months, it would be wise to brush up on your midge-matics. The trout will thank you…sort of.

First things first, what’s a midge? If you want to sound intelligent, refer to them as chironomids. But I, for one, am not an entomologist. I’m more of the fisherman type. Many use the term ‘midge’ to describe any tiny fly, nymph, or grubby thing they see. That can be slightly misleading for obvious reasons. But not all midges are tiny. They can sometimes get so big as to be easily mistaken for a BWO (baetis) or other mayfly. Just remember that adult midge’s wings lie slightly flat against their body –Almost resembling the tent-wing shape of a caddis. Mayflies’ wings will sit upright –like a sail. And if that isn’t clear enough, if it resembles a mosquito, it’s a Midge. If it doesn’t look like a mosquito, then it’s Something Else.

The Life Cycle of a Midge

The life cycle of a midge begins with an adult female depositing its eggs on the surface of the water. From there, the eggs (up to 3,000) will sink to the bottom where the larvae will soon emerge. The larvae will then burrow themselves into the silt until they are ready to pupate. The color of the larvae is most often a deep to vivid red; a result of oxygen being stored in their body. During this stage, they are often called “blood worms”.
Not all midge larvae are red though. I have seen black, olive, grey, cream and tan midges taken from a single drainage. I have heard that their color not only depends upon the dissolved oxygen content of the water, but also from the amount and types of heavy metals present. And to further complicate things, the levels of all of these variables will often change throughout the year!

When a midge begins to pupate, their body color usually changes and a very visible thorax will begin to appear. You should be able to see the wing buds beginning to develop on either side of the thorax. In general terms, midge pupae will be shorter and stouter than that of their larval state. The thorax will usually be darker than the rest of their body. Upon emergence, gasses will become trapped in the pupae – most noticeably around the thorax. As these gasses form, the pupae will often take on a shiny-translucent appearance as they begin to wiggle towards the surface to emerge as an adult midge.

When a midge pupa rises and becomes stuck in the surface tension of the water, it will break out of the shuck and emerge as an adult midge. The newly hatched adult midges will often rest on the water for some time before it flies off into the vegetation around the shore line.
Most species of midges do not feed once they become adults. They don’t even have mouths, so their life-span in this stage is usually only a couple days. But don’t worry, that’s still ample time for them to buzz right into your eyeball or up your nose.

Midge Fishing Tips, Flies, and Techniques

Because I’m writing this in the winter time, most of what I have to say will be based on the winter. But don’t think that this isn’t relevant for any other season! Remember that midges are usually a trout’s main diet, and are the most numerous insects on the water at any given time of the year.
Midge larvae usually range in size from a #18 – #24 hook. The larvae are normally the longest and thinnest of all their forms. I highly suggest taking the time to look from them in the water you’re going to fish. That’s the only sure way to know exactly what size and color to use. The good news is that there are literally hundreds of them burrowed within the first inch of silt on the bottom in any 1 foot stretch of water. A simple aquarium net is sufficient to take a sample of the muck.
Trout will key in on the larval form from time to time; most often in the winter. These larvae are typically drifting in the bottom half of the water column. If you see trout hugging the bottom, and not moving more than an inch or two to one side or the other to catch food, there’s a good chance they’re taking midge larvae. These larvae are so numerous that it seems the trout don’t think it worthwhile to expend the energy chasing one down that’s too far away.

When midge fishing, I like to use a two fly rig composed of either a pupa and larva combo, or adult and pupa combo. Whatever the stage of midge the trout seem to be feeding on, I will tie on that stage plus the stage before it. For example, if you see trout rising with only their tails showing, that’s a good indication that they are keying on emerging midges rising to the surface to hatch as adults. But remember that they ARE NOT eating adults yet. In this instance, I would suggest some type of parachute or emerging midge pattern with a pupa pattern tied off the back about 18”-12”. A parachute pattern will effectively mimic the pupa below the surface film with the hackle acting as the adult form emerging out of it. The pupa pattern mimics a midge beginning the ascent to the surface.
As far as depth goes, a general rule of thumb could be to fish the larval stage in the bottom half of the water column; the pupae in the upper two-thirds of the water, and any non-dry emerger style pattern in the upper 6” of the water.

When fishing tailwaters during the winter, the midge hatches can become relatively predictable and usually involves a good hatch in the morning hours, and if you’re lucky, another hatch in the afternoon. Believe it or not, over the last couple weeks I’ve been using a dry hackled midge emerger (such as a vertical midge) non-stop, all day! Who says you can’t fish a dry fly in the middle of January?
In the heat of a good midge hatch, the trout will move up and into shallow water to catch the pupae rising to the surface in preparation to emerge as an adult. It’s mostly true that trout won’t move very far to grab a midge, but in some instances, that’s simply untrue. Especially when the trout are up shallow, they will sometimes move completely out of their zone to chase a pupa. This is most often seen during a bwo (baetis) hatch and can be very misleading to us simple-minded fisherman/women. I used to automatically switch over to a bwo emerger or nymph when I would see the trout chasing invisible critters down the stream. Now, I get out the screen or aquarium net and double-check!

When you start to see a few head-to-tail rises and some tailless rises, it’s a good indication that you can switch out your indicator for dry fly. If you can hear the “blup” of a trout picking a bug off the surface, it’s almost a guarantee that that they’ve transitioned to a diet of adults instead of emergers. (I prefer to skip a bright indicator all together and use some type of Hi-Vis dry fly instead. -Especially on heavily fished rivers and tailwaters. It could just be a confidence booster but I seem to spook less fish doing so).
Adult midges can, at times, be extremely small. Even a size 28 can seem monstrously out of proportion compared to the naturals. A tiny dry fly like a Matt’s Midge might work, or you can tuck the magnifier back in your pocket and use a Griffith’s Gnat or Renegade. The magic of a Griffith’s Gnat is that it mimics a midge cluster instead of a single adult. By using a cluster pattern over a single fly, you can forfeited the 10X Varivas tippet and #32 dry fly hooks for a more reasonable #22 or 24. That’s the theory at least. I’ve noticed that an adult midge’s legs are incredibly long, and encompassing the entire radius of the bug. Could it be that a Griffith’s Gnat is not so much a representation of a cluster, but of a single fly. The fully hackled body would certainly suggest so. Either way, who cares? Just as long as the trout like it!
When fishing the adults, just remember that a drag-free drift is incredibly important. Sure, the newly hatched adults might flop around a bit at first, but for the most part, they drift lock-in-step with the currents.

Playing a Trout with Tiny Flies and Tippets

Fly fishing is hard enough! And to complicate things further, landing a trout of any size with tiny flies and tippets is tricky at best.
The first problem is the hook size. They’re small. -and even a good hook-set is often only skin deep. There are a couple things that come to mind that may help increase your chances of a good hookup. The first: Bend the hook points slightly sideways so that it will lay slightly offset from the shank of the hook. This is especially helpful with scud-style hooks. This is because the gap isn’t large enough for anything to get in between gap of the “C” and the point of the hook. Offsetting the bottom half of the “C” to where the hook point isn’t parallel with the shank gives the hook infinitely more room, and better chances of a good hookup.
My other tip is to pinch the barb down on the hook. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but the theory behind that goes something like this: The barb on the hook only adds to the surface area of the hook thus increasing the pressure needed for the hook-set. When you’re dealing with tippets smaller than 7X, the strain on the line at any given time can be no larger than 2 lbs, max. So your physical hook-set should consist of only a firm lift of the rod tip to avoid snapping the line. Make sure that is indeed a FIRM set though! You’ll catch just as few fish with a sissy hook set as with a setting so hard that the line snaps. Pinching the barb on your hook decreases the surface area of the hook point, thus decreasing the amount of force needed to lock the hook into the trout’s chops.

Having a good drag system on your reel is always a good idea to have when fighting monster sized fish, but having a good drag system when using micro-sized equipment is a Necessity! Well, that’s only if you want to land the majority of the large fish you hook. Most rods do a good job handling the shock of a fighting fish. But if that fish ever makes a run for it, your reel is going to make or break that fight. Trout are quick. That’s why holding the fly line in your hand is not a good idea. You just won’t be able to give and take line fast enough to keep steady pressure on the line. Many types of reels are designed with the spool casing that extends to the outside of the reel. If you hook a fish and there’s a lot of slack line you have to reel in, just take the palm of your hand and spin that spool case backwards. All that slack line at your feet will be spooled back onto the reel in no time! In less than two seconds, you’ll be playing that monster by reel.

I hope the post has helped you gain a little insight into the wonderful world of midges. Fishing tiny flies with even tinier tippets can be severely frustrating at first, but with a little bit of practice, it’ll become like second nature. Who knows, you might even become a micro-maniac! Only you can choose your destiny 

Here are some photos of a midge in its different stages along with a couple corresponding fly patterns that I’ve found to be very effective. (I should have this posted by weeks end).


Santa was kind this year and gave me a new camera. I’m blown away by how well it works for taking pictures of tiny little flies…all the way to a size 32!
It works so great that I can see all of the flaws in the flies I’ve tied. What I thought was perfectly touching wraps of superhair on my jujubee abdomen turned out to not be so perfectly touching wraps after all!

Oh well, here’s a gallery of some more trout patterns I’ve been toying with this winter.

Just click on a photo to bring up the recipe and other info about the pattern.

Enjoy and Happy New Year!!

Winter has finally arrived. It seems it’s Mother Nature’s way of getting back at us for all of the great fishing had during the fall. But for those of us who laugh in the face of frozen popsicle fly rods and frostbitten fingers, I thought I’d share my go-to flies for this time of year. Hopefully, these will help you maintain that blistering hot winter fishing average of 1.375 fish per day. Almost worth getting off the couch for.

The predominant sources of wintertime food for trout consist largely of midges, scuds, sow bugs, smaller fish, and the occasional blue wing olives (most often in tailwaters). For many anglers, that list might only include midges. -and their entire winter fly box consists solely of that!
Though I only list the insect portion of flies in this post (for now), the winter can also be a great time to try out some streamers.

For some reason, the color blue seems to work very well in the winter. I’ll often incorporate that in the form of blue beads or wire. UV ice dubbing can also be a great choice because of it’s bluish reflective qualities. Purple is another. Apparently, there’s been research (I haven’t read) that’s concluded that purple, pinks, reds, and blues are the most visible colors for trout in deep water.
With the exception of red, Trout U’s findings indicate that trout cannot see color at all in deep water/low light conditions! Their opinion is that black would be the most visible color (not purple, blue etc.)
Until trout learn the English language, we may never know for sure. Just don’t be afraid to switch things up and bedazzle some of your flies. You never know, might knock’em dead!

I want to apologize in advance for the not-so-great pictures. I hope Santa got my letter about a new camera so I can ditch this 0.7 Megapixel digital camera that is only “digital” based on some lame technicality. Possibly the clock feature?

I’ve listed (and will continue to list) some great winter flies below. Just click on an image to view more info and recipes.