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)
The pupa stage of life of the midge is the most important stage for anglers to imitate.
It's during the time the pupae accent to the surface that they are most susceptible to
feeding trout. Air sacks within the midge's wings provide the buoyancy necessary for
them assent. Especially in water lit by sunlight, the air provides a mirror like, silvery
flash that trout sometimes key on.
This accent may take some time and the larvae may even become stationary at times.
The papa looks almost like the larva with a thick thorax that contains the wings of the
developing midge. The hardened case, or puparium which is a capsule-like case,
contains the wings and legs. When they begin to emerge, the wings become much
Some species that dwell in streams crawl out of their pupa cases while they are still on
the bottom and swim to the surface as adults. Trout can easily feed on them during
the time this is occurring; however, this is much less common than surface emergence.
Especially in water that is calm where there is a heavy surface film, midges can have a
very difficult time penetrating the surface film and consequently, there may be a large
number of midges that die trying. Often the feeding trout don’t give them time to get
through it. These pupae are easy takings for the trout, and along with the cripples
that just don';t emerge right for one reason or other, can cause them to concentrate
only on this phase of the hatch.
You should pay attention to details when you are fishing a midge hatch. Like many
other things to do with fishing, it's often the little details that makes the big difference
in success. Often, there is more than one species of midges, sometimes several,
hatching at the same time. This isn't so true of the freestone streams of the Smokies
as it is spring creeks and tailwaters but it does happen. I know that not because I have
studied the various species, but rather from catching various sizes of adults and
emerging pupae. You should try to key in on the size, color and stage of a hatch to
be most successful.
Midge larva patterns are generally effective early in the mornings and between
hatches. They should be worked on or near the bottom. The pupae can be a little
different in color from the larvae and the adults quite different in color from the pupae
and larvae. We have found that over 90 percent of midges in cold water trout streams
are near the same color and shade as our three main selections of larvae, pupae and
the adults - light green, red and cream. There are differences in the segmentation
and some look like multiple colors but those are usually close to the same color and
show up only because they are contrasted side by side.
Trout really focus on the pupae suspended in the surface film trying to hatch and that
is the fly I prefer to use most of the time if they are hatching. That's because the water
is usually cold or below 48 degrees or so when I fish them. They will certainly eat the
adult midges on the surface but it happens mostly when the water temperature is
above 50 degrees.
Here is another one of my favorite rigs for fishing midge imitations. Use a nine-foot 5X
tippet and add about twelve to fourteen inches of 5X tippet using a surgeons knot. Tie
on an attractor type nymph pattern to the end of the added tippet. I use a hook size
18 and as large as a 16 with a bead head depending on the current. Using an
improved clinch knot, tie on an additional 18 inches of 5 X or 6X tippet to the bend of
the hook in the attractor fly. Add the midge larva imitation to the extended tippet. If
added weight is needed, place it on the leader just above the first knot you tied to add
the extra tippet to keep in from sliding down the leader. If you are using a strike
indicator, attach it approximately one and one-half times the depth of the water from
the bottom fly.
In especially clear water, you may want to use a 6X for the upper tippet and 7X for the
extended portion. This rig can also be cast without weight for trout feeding on
emergers. Change the larva imitation to a pupa imitation. Remember, when trout begin
to feed on the emerging midge pupae, you will sometimes see the fins of the fish
break the water. They will normally leave a rise ring but they aren't easy to see at a
Often it works well to fish the midge pupa in conjunction with a mayfly emerger or
caddis pupa. It is common for the trout to take the midge emerger and ignore the
mayfly or caddis. This sometimes works when you see fish rising but do not see any
flies in the air.
This is our Perfect Fly Cream Midge Pupa imitation. The antron tail imitates the shuck
that sheds from the larva. These come in hook sizes 20 and 22. It also adds that slight
flash I mentioned that comes from the air bubble.
Our New DVD Release "Stalking Appalachian Trout".
Copyright 2011 James Marsh