|Fly Fishing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Midges are probably the most overlooked aquatic insect that trout feed on in the
park. One reason is that most anglers hate fooling with the tiny imitations. They
are forced to do it in many of the nearby tailwaters, but some anglers, refuse to
fish them even there. There are some tricks to fishing the tiny little flies both from
a tying them on the tippet to presenting them to the trout.
Most anglers dislike midge imitations simply because they are small. Almost
invisible flies, ultra-light tippets and fish you can't see drive anglers crazy.
Because they can't see them well, they tend to think the trout can't either. When
they do fish them, they also think the particular fly pattern is not important.
Compared to many types of streams such as tailwaters and spring creeks,
midges are not as plentiful in the park's freestone streams. Chironomidae midge
larvae stay down in their burrows in soft soil and much of the substrate of the
streams in the Smokies is rock. That said, there is still a tremendous amount of
midges in the streams. They are mostly in the tailouts of pools and back eddies.
Midges come in as many sizes and colors as any other aquatic insect. The best
way to determine what color and sizes the midge larvae, pupae and adults are is
to catch and observe them. That is not permitted in the Smokies, so you need to
be prepared with several colors and sizes of them. The most important stage of
the midge is the pupa. For most of their life the larvae stay hidden down in their
burrows. When they change to the pupa stage of life, they are completely
helpless and can easily be eaten by trout.
Usually, the trout will just remain in one place and eat all they want to eat while
the helpless midge pupae are trying to get to the surface to hatch. It is rare they
will eat the full grown adults from the surface because there is no reason to do
so. Occasionally, during huge hatches, clusters of midges will congregate and
the trout will eat them several at a time. That is what the Griffith Knat was
designed for. It may occur in the park but we have not seen it. For that reason, I
suggest you only use a midge larva or pupa imitation.
You may prefer to drop the pupa or larva down from a dry fly and you may even
prefer to use a Griffin Knat or some other adult midge pattern for that. Others may
prefer to use a strike indicator.
Copyright 2011 James Marsh
This midge larva came from the
Little River. It is a weird color,
almost clear with dark brown