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Winter Time Is Midge Time When Fly Fishing For Trout

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Let's face it, we dream in Technicolor of size 10 green drake hatches or Hexagenia Limbata as big as beavers - but the reality is Winter Time Is Midge Time. Often the only bugs on the frigid water are so small; they challenge most anglers to consider LASIK. And as you already know, much of the eating is under the surface.

At a fly-tying class, I once heard a locally famous fly tier named Pops quip something along the line of "my second best fly tying material supplier is Hobby Lobby". This, of course, assumes that Blue Heron Fly Shop where we were sitting is his "first best". This guy is also well known for the quote "it ain't no use, if it ain't chartreuse" but that, as they say, is another story.

Armed with this nugget of wisdom, I scoured every section of Hobby Lobby. Eureka! Great little wires for tying "ribs" of nymphs, wonderful foam sheets for terrestrials, assorted yarn varieties for 'buggers, and beads, beads, beads! All this is available at a fraction of the cost of their fly-shop counterparts. Bingo!

From this magnificent Wall-O'-Beads, I found some fine little metal ones in a small pinky-sized cylinder. They came in a variety of colors like olive, purple, copper, and brown. Many had fancy names like Brown Iris Metallic Beads (the one I took home) and numerous others. Perfect. We ARE talking tiny here. Just the right size to barely squeeze on to barb-less size 20 hooks and be proportionate.

Armed with these at my fly tying station, I began to experiment. If you have ever collected and looked at tiny water bugs, you will note their appendages and segmentations are not distinct unless under a microscope. So, I combined the little bead heads with many simple body materials trying to find a simple-to-tie solution. I wanted to approximately match the hatch from recent trips to the stream. I finally boiled it down to dyed goose biots. I had originally experimented with biots to tie Prince Nymphs at a much larger scale and certainly a different application. My favorite biot color is olive, and man, what a great subtle segmented body biots make. Ultimately, I designed Duff's Bead/Biot Midge - perfect for fishing Winter's cold waters. More than just this emerger, I developed a powerful One-Two Punch combination that has proven itself over and over in many tailraces throughout Texas and Oklahoma.

Though the tiny bead/biot midge is a killer as a dropper below a larger nymph, the One-Two Punch consists of a dropper below a similar looking dry. Before I give you the recipe, let me describe the simplicity of these two flies. The dry fly is: olive thread, olive biot, and olive/gray hackle on a size twenty barb-less hook. The dropper, often fished just 6 inches below the dry, is: olive thread, olive biot, and metallic bead on a size twenty barb-less hook. Simple, right? It's really easy to tie too. But don't let that make you feel guilty when you when you catch numerous trout with it.

Duff's Dry Midge - Olive
Materials -
* Hook: Size 20 dry
* Thread: Olive 8/0
* Body: Goose Biot dyed olive
* Hackle: Olive/Gray sized to match hook gap
* Head: Olive Thread

Technique - Crush barb, put hook in vise, jamb knot thread and wrap back to bend, tie in point of biot, wrap thread forward, spiral biot forward leaving segmentation and tie down with half hitch, tie in single hackle, trim base, wrap hackle and tie off, whip finish forming head, add cement.

Duff's Bead/Biot Midge - Olive
Materials -
* Hook: Size 20 dry or scud/nymph
* Thread: Olive 8/0
* Body: Goose Biot dyed olive
* Head: Brown Iris Bead

Technique - Crush barb, place bead head on hook, put hook in vise, jamb knot thread and wrap back to bend, tie in point of biot, wrap thread forward, spiral biot forward leaving segmentation and tie down with half hitch (optional - tie in a few strands of crystal flash as a wing and clip close), whip finish behind bead head, add cement.

For those who are not into fly tying but are into fly fishing Scott has put together an assortment of dry flies and nymphs that no fly fisherman should be with out. See Duff's Ultimate Midge Pack.

Scott is a lead editor and contributor to SouthwestSportsman.com, a website dedicated to the enjoyment of the great American outdoors.

About the Author

Scott McDuffee is a lead editor and contributor to SouthwestSportsman.com, a website dedicated to the enjoyment of the great American outdoors.


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