Midges are an important part of a trout’s diet. In some watersheds, midges are the predominant food source, making up as much as 50 percent of a trout's diet. Unlike many other aquatic insects, midges can complete an entire life cycle during the winter months. Many species can undergo a complete life cycle—egg to adult—in just a few weeks.
Recognizing that the Little Red River is a tailwater and not subject to seasonal changes in water temperature, it does not have near the volume of insect hatches that natural streams and rivers do. Although it does have its seasonal hatches of mayflies and caddis, the opportunities to fish these hatches are few and far between.
Midges, however, thrive in the Little Red, and are hatching throughout the year. Especially in the winter months, when no other insects are available, midges are the only insect a trout feeds on. So, it stands to reason that a fly fisherman who is proficient at tying and fishing midges will catch far more fish than those who are not.
The purpose of this workshop is to teach a variety of different techniques to easily and effectively tie flies to imitate the four stages of the midge life cycle. These cycles include the larva, pupa, emerger, and adult. All midge patterns are relatively simple in nature. What makes them so difficult and frustrating to tie is their small size. When fishing midges, a size 18 fly is huge. The most effective midge flies are size 20 and below.
The way to easily tie midge patterns is to learn specific techniques that make it easy to work with tiny hooks and materials.
We’ll focus first on the larva. Since all lava patterns are a variation of the Zebra Midge, if you can tie a simple Zebra Midge, you can tie every larva pattern out there. We’ll tie three variations for the purpose of getting used to working with small hooks. We’ll tie a bead head, glass bead head, and finally a quill body midge.
Next, we’ll do four pupa/emerger patterns:
The Mole Fly is a great go-to pattern for any small mayfly or midge hatch. Its unusual CDC “advanced” wing supports the fly on the surface while the body hangs below like that of a crippled or emerging mayfly or midge.
The Foamerger is easily one of most simple and effective midge emerger patterns you’ll find. It often out fishes any midge adult pattern as well.
Mike’s Midge Pupa is a great fly for ultra-selective fish feeding on midges right below the surface film. The fly benefits from a thoughtful design where the abdomen hangs vertically in the water, similar to how a midge pupa drifts downstream. It uses a turkey biot body, foam thorax, and CDC ‘breather’ gills.
Brooks' Sprout Midge Emerger is a good emerger pattern with a parachute wing. The floatability of the foam parachute post makes it a good fly to trail a larva fly.
The adult stage will include four dry fly patterns.
Matt’s Midge is a simple, yet effective midge dry fly for targeting rising fish during midge hatches.
Charlie’s Secret Attack Midge is a great fly for selective trout that are eating adult midges. It has a simple body, wing, and parachute hackle.
The Bunny Midge is a very simple dry midge pattern that can be easily tied down to sizes 26 and smaller.
Finally, Kelly Galloup’s Goober Midge is a more difficult fly using flash, deer hair wing, and hackle. This fly almost unsinkable and very visible on the water. It’s an excellent go-to fly to run a larva dropper on a two-fly rig.
At the end of the workshop, you will have tied up to ten different midge patterns. The materials purchased will be split up among the participants, so you’ll go home having learned the techniques to basically tie any midge pattern there is, and you’ll have enough materials to practice what you’ve learned and tie dozens more!