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Every fly shop has a portion of their fly bins relegated to the most
seemingly useless little flies.  These flies have but one or two
materials incorporated into their design and are so tiny that many
folks assume the tedious task of attaching them to a hook must surely
be a waste of time.  In realty, these tiny flies can be surprisingly
useful and are in fact capable of hooking and landing even the largest
residents of your local trout stream.  The winter months are upon us
which means every fly angler should consider the important role midges
play in a trout’s daily dietary needs.

A midge is a general term for any two-12375402_10153211179858021_12370881_owinged aquatic insect.  There
are so many of these little insects that it would, in fact, be a waste
of time to study them all.  What the angler needs to know about midges
is that they experience a complete metamorphosis meaning they have a
larval, pupa, and adult stage and they come in a variety of colors
such as black, brown, olive, red, and cream.  Midges are prolific throughout the year in most freestone mountain streams but become
especially important during winter months because of a lack of other
food sources for trout to snack upon.

I’ll be perfectly honest and admit that midge fishing can be a pain in
the you-know-what.  The angler is typically dealing with size 6x
tippet or smaller and flies that resemble little more than a dust
speck.  This does make for some tedious rigging but remember; you’ve
already invested the time and energy to get to the river.  Why not go
all-in and fish some flies that may indeed increase your success on
the water?

A prime example of great winter midge fishery in our area is the
Davidson River.  The presence of hatchery byproduct makes for an
abundance of midge life.  As I mentioned earlier, these midges become
important sources of food during winter months when things like
mayflies, caddis flies, and terrestrials are less prolific in the stream.  I usually tie on a 703493_10153211185593021_634163047_omidge pupa of some sort, (WD-40 is a
go-to), with a midge larva dropped behind.  Midge larva patterns are
very simple, but should highlight segmentation in some way.  Zebra
midges have been around a long time for good reason.  Run through
different colors and try to identify which color the fish are keying
in on.  I often fish these flies on a tight line system but if strike
indicators are your thing think light.  It doesn’t take much to
suspend two size 18 or smaller flies with a couple micro shot; yarn or
a Palsa pinch-on should float just fine and will provide a more subtle
presentation.  If rigging seems overwhelmingly daunting, you can save
yourself some time and frustration on the water by tying up some two
fly combos ahead of time.

Although fishing tiny subsurface flies may not provide the excitement
of watching a trout sip a dry fly or inhale an articulated streamer it
may be the key to success in some fishing situations.  So go ahead and
show those seemingly useless fly bins some love.  Whether it’s a size
2, or 22, any fly that brings a trout to the net is worth fishing.

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