Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1. Blue-winged Olives
2. Little Yellow Quills (Heptagenia Group)
3. Needle Stoneflies
4 Slate Drakes
5 Great Brown Autumn Sedge
7. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Fly Fishing Strategies - What Fly To Use Series:
This is normally the day I do our Fly Fishing Strategies, What Fly To Use, Series
article but I'm delaying it until tomorrow so that I can get a little time on the water
checking the current conditions and status of the insects. I expect little change from
the previous strategy but I do want to verify a few things on the water. I didn't have a
chance to fish any yesterday or over the weekend but I should have some time to
There's the normal weekly cold front moving through tomorrow night. It will be very
warm today again and tonight, with a chance of rain starting tomorrow. When the front
passes tomorrow night the nightly temps will drop back down to around freezing. That
will lower the water temps back down into the high forties and low fifties during the
day. That will increase the BWO hatches and increase your odds of catching trout
provided you use the right strategies and aren't just relying one-hundred percent on
Midges, Part 2
I have been working on a new video on fishing midges now for several years. About
the time I think I have what I want to finish it, I learn something new. I've learned that
although my own Perfect Flies are much better than anything else, at times they do
fall short in crystal clear spring creeks. I've have watched trout reject them and turn
away from the fly. In tailwaters with stocked trout, it makes little or no difference. This
isn't true fishing for wild trout in clear water freestone streams or spring creeks or
tailwaters with wild trout populations. It isn't true of the larger holdover trout if the
water isn't slightly stained.
I have a book on Midges written by a man from Pennsylvania, Midge Magic, I believe
is the title. I thought he was nuts when he showed many fly patterns with little tiny
differences, especially on his multi-color patterns. The more I fish the spring creeks,
the more I realize he hasn't lost his mind. We are working on some more realistic
imitations of the multi-color midges especially for spring creeks.
Catching trout consistently on imitations of these tiny insects isn't as easy as it is for
many other aquatic insects for several reasons. One easily noticed is the very small
size of the naturals your trying to imitate and the other is the tiny size of the flies you
must actually use. To put it bluntly, these little things are not easy to see or tie on.
One problem with learning how to imitate them is the many, many different species of
them that behave differently and the different types of water they exist in. Basically, if
there's water anywhere on earth, there probably midges in it. In warm water, there's
huge numbers. In cold water, there's huge numbers. In a mud puddle it seems there's
huge numbers of them.
Here's some info taken from our Perfect Fly website:
You will find that most anglers carry very few, usually just one or two, midge patterns
in their fly boxes, yet midges are available and eaten by trout throughout the year in
all the trout streams and lakes in the United States. The main reason for this lack of
attention for the midge is simply that many anglers just do not believe in the fly’s
effectiveness. After all, why would a large trout want to eat such a tiny morsel of food?
Why would any angler want to fish with such a small fly when a larger one is easier to
see, and would seem to be much more attractive to fish, especially the larger ones.
Midges are small, usually very small. So small that most of us have a very difficult
time tying them on our tippet. It's such a problem that it led to the development of a
“midge threader”, a very handy device we might add. But make no mistake about it,
the little midges are very effective on all trout streams and lakes and yes, they in fact,
will catch large trout.
It is thought that midges represent about one-half of the insects in streams and
lakes. Although streams and lakes with soft bottoms and weed beds usually have
more than other types of water, if the water supports trout it has midges. This includes
fast flowing freestone mountain streams. It doesn’t matter whether the bottom is
muddy, rocky, or sandy. Midge species of one type or another can survive as long as
algae exist for them to feed on. Lakes, pond and sloughs are usually loaded with
midge activity. Another important consideration is that midges normally hatch
periodically just about year round and are available as food for trout in the larvae,
pupae or adult stages throughout the year.
Midges are small two winged flies that resemble mosquitoes. They begin life from an
egg deposited by swarming adults as they mate and skim over the surface of the
water. Some species deposit their eggs underwater on structure and plants. Some of
the species are free-swimming larvae and others form tubes from the bottom materials
that they live in.
The bloodworm and glassworm species are free- swimming larvae. These larvae
develop into the pupae stage of life and emerge by assenting to the surface of the
water where they hatch into the full, grown adults. This emerging process usually
takes anywhere from several seconds to a minute or two. Depending upon the
species, the adults live for an hour or two, up to a couple of months.
One commonly known fact about the midge is that it provides fishing action during the
cold, winter months when nothing else may be hatching. From late fall until early
spring, in many locations they are the only thing hatching. This is certainly one great
reason to fish midge patterns but it may also tend to cause some anglers to think that
the only time midges are effective for trout is during the cold months of the year when
nothing else works well. This is a very false belief. Midges may be the best approach
to use on any given day during the year, even days when major mayfly or caddisfly
hatches are occurring. In many streams and lakes where midges are a major part of
the trout’s diet, fish may take midges selectively over other much larger flies. Don’t
make the mistake of assuming that if the weather is nice and warm, you don’t need
your midge box. That may be a big mistake. It is not easy to detect that trout are
feeding on midges even when they are doing it selectively at the exclusion of
everything else. Angler may spot midges on the water and simply not be able to see
trout taking them. It is even more difficult to spot trout taking the emerging midges and
almost impossible to see them taking the larvae.
Trout feeding on adult midges tend to hold just beneath the surface where they can
easily sip the midges. They make very subtle rise forms and are usually fairly easily
spooked since they are holding so shallow. Bad presentations can easily spook them
and well as your presence and motions made casting. Wakes made from wading will
spook trout holding very shallow also.
Midges seem to never hatch when you expect them. They can hatch anytime of the
day from early in the morning to late in the evening. Snow, wind and rain seem to
have little effect on the hatch times. They can hatch on the hottest day in July or
coldest day of January. There are some clues that may, keep in mind we are saying
may, help you select the best fishing times however.Like many other aquatic insects,
midge emergence is greatest during periods of low atmospheric pressure, or cloudy,
overcast day. This is when the hatches seem to be the most concentrated and
the heaviest; however, you may find midges hatching on the brightest days of the
year. It also seems that the calmer the water, the heavier the hatch, but this may just
be a factor in how well you can see them. Dark, overcast, days, also aid you in getting
closer to the fish feeding on midges and makes it easier for you to fool them with an
It takes a lot of midges to supply the necessary energy trout expend even in cold
water during the winter season when their metabolism is the lowest. That means trout
usually feed on midges for a long period of time, even hours, in order to get enough
of them. Bad weather conditions, especially cold air temperatures, can slow down the
emerging process considerably. The freshly hatched midges will remain on the
surface much longer drying and exercising their wings.
Fishing Dry Flies:
In slow moving water, such as you may find in pools, midges will often be drifting in the
surface film in scum lines or current seams with bubbles present. The emerging midge
pupae are not visible and your only clues are the slight bulges made by a sipping trout
A good dead drift is always required to keep from spooking the fish under these
conditions. You should get as close to a rising fish, or the spot you expect trout to be
sipping midge pupae, as possible. It is necessary that your fly be presented right in
front of a trout’s mouth because they are simply not going to expend much energy
moving about chasing down a single minute size midge pupa. Another reason your
presentation must be in the immediate area of feeding is that the trout are usually
holding just under the surface and the area they can spot drifting midges is very
small. When trout are holding close to the surface of the water, they will not see your
fly drifting several feet away.
A long leader is usually required, Start with at least a ten feet long leader and
preferable twelve. Six or seven X tippets are usually required. Slow action rods are
generally preferred over fast action because they allow the flex to protect the light
tippets needed when you set the hook and fight the fish.
It is of course, very difficult to see the adult midges on the water, real or fake. One
way to help determine exactly where your fly is, is to cast far above where you suspect
the trout are and when you think your fly is approaching the area, pull the fly to create
a slight v wake. This will let you know where the fly is. Align it above the fish as best
you can before it gets close enough for the trout to notice what is going on. This way
your fly will be in line to drift over the fish and you can just about time when it will
be there. You may have to make several cast to determine exactly what effect the
current is having on the fly and to get the cast and subsequent v drag in line to drift
the fly right over the fish.
Our New DVD Release "Stalking Appalachian Trout".
Copyright 2011 James Marsh