The Trout & the Midge

by Fly Fisherman

You will notice, or have seen, fish taking midges on the surface. Duplicating the midge, even vaguely, in a fly is a
highly ambitious endeavor that, to my knowledge, has never been done to any degree of effectiveness. The midge is a tiny insect that, were it simulated correctly would have to be on a size 50 or 60 hook and neither of those sizes are, at the moment, available. If they were and it would be possible to affix a semblance of a fly on them, which isn’t likely (there are not more than five or six fly tiers in the country that could satisfactorily dress sizes tinier than size 40 which is the smallest I’ve heard of being tied), the bite in the hook could barely snag the slime in the mouth of a fish, let alone getting hold of a skin layer. Anglers, being what they are, will generally try anyway with the smallest flies they have, which are giants compared to the natural, or they tie on spider flies which are as good as any, usually better, for this effort. When the trout continue with their midge snack, paying little attention to the fisherman’s tempter, the fisherman, usually reluctantly, gives up.

If you will notice carefully, the midges, being gregarious, fly in groups or perhaps clouds would be a better description. The trout rarely rise to take ONE from the surface but will slash with his tail into a cloud splashing a number of them under where he leisurely sucks them in. Here’s a game you can play, too. Affix the smallest dark fly you have in your box. Cast into these clouds of midges and draw the fly under the surface, if you can, so that it floats just submerged. If your fly should pass through the area where midges had been slapped down, your trout probably wonders how he ever missed gulping that nice big one and the likelihood of its being taken is good.

In the rougher sections of the stream you are fishing, regardless of how turbulent the water is, you’ll spot smooth glides that are almost glassy in appearance. False cast for distance and drop your fly at the head of these glides. The fly ordinarily will give you a drag-free presentation for a foot or two and these spots are dynamite to feeding fish. You’ll see glides, too, at the head of pools just ahead of rough stretches. These are excellent feeding grounds as a rule, particularly the spots just before the turbulent water starts.

Do not be hesitant about permitting your fly to hit the rough areas also. They may not stay on top long and supposing they do go under, they’re certainly no worse off than a high wet fly and may develop some unexpected slashing action for you.
Where the water is heavy and mostly rough and turbulent I would advise the use, entirely, of the variant high floating patterns, if you’re sticking to the dry flies. Although not too close a resemblance to the natural insects they will withstand considerable tossing about by rougher water and will stay on top. The character of the water precludes the necessity of delicate simulations of natural flies which are needed when trout are choosy.

 One nice feature of this type of fly is that they are, by far, the easiest of the dry flies to present. Even the most inexpert amateur has little difficulty in securing satisfying action with their use. But where trout are extremely particular, or as some say, “educated,” these heavily hackled flies are just excess baggage except late in the day or at night.

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