When it comes to midge fly patterns, you have to know the right ones for the area you are in. This is the reason it is best to either make your own or learn from a local pro or guide to learn what is the best.
You also need to know how to properly fish a midge fly when you are fly fishing your local body of water.
Nowhere is midge fishing more popular than in Alaska, as midges are the food source for fish like trout and char. The midge season usually runs from mid-Spring to mid-Summer, so you can catch them at their best time of year.
These tiny flies (which are midges) are not necessarily picky when it comes to what they eat - even other midges! You will need some careful tying skills or buy a bunch of midge fly patterns if you want to match exactly what the fish want.
How Do You Fish A Midge Fly Pattern?
Midge fly fishing, it is important to avoid overcrowding the area you are midge fly fishing. This typically means a 30-60 minute window in which to midge fish. When midge fishing, it is always best to approach stealthily and slowly when midge fishing if possible. To do this, you may want to wade into midstream where there will be less vegetation and less likely for your presence to be detected by local trout and other midges.
When nearing the water's edge, try casting as close as possible with precision casts so that your midge does not get snagged on nearby foliage or litter on the bottom of the river bed. You should aim at one side of a known feeding lane or holding the midge mid-current where trout are likely to be held in ambush. If you find a midge pattern that is working for you, try to determine if there are any visible indicators of feeding activity such as a small number of midges or midge droppings on the water's surface.
The best midges are normally fished during a time when the air temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and the water temperature is between 46 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Otherwise, midge fishing can be effective with higher temperatures up to 86 degrees but will require more action since they tend to move faster due to their accelerated metabolism. Higher temperatures also mean that your midge fly patterns better match the real midge flies otherwise you will not be as successful.
Level midge fishing occurs at a depth of between one and four feet deep which is the midges' natural resting spot for midge flies in moving water. Overhanging midge flies need to be fished on top of the midges, as the name implies because they are either resting or mating over these areas while having no objection to being disturbed by an angler.
Hatches take place when the nymphs rapidly emerge from their water where they have been pupating for several weeks and then fly to locations where they will rest until emerging again- possibly weeks later depending on the species of midge- into adult midges. The first visible sign that you will see before a hatch takes place is swarms of midges flying "on the surface" while midge flies mating midge flies in midair.
Hatching may be observed as midge flies moving or migrating on the surface, floating down a river in mid-current where they are extremely vulnerable to fisherman's midge fly imitations. Such activity is called midge flies hatch when this happens and this is when an angler will want to use a midge pattern that replicates these insects in their emerging or active state.
If you are fishing dry fly patterns for trout, then you should definitely fish some midge patterns at the same time because there is almost always going to be rising trout taking these insects at such times. Midges do not have long lifespans once they leave the midge hatches and this is why you should not expect midge fly patterns to often last for more than a few hours following midge hatch.
The midges that trout feed on including Blue-winged Olives, Little Black Caddis, or Green Sedges. Knowing what type of midge hatch has begun will save you time by allowing you to target the right midge flies. Above are some examples of midge hatches.
What Is The Difference Between A Midge and A Nymph?
Many fly fishermen may not know the difference between midges and nymphs. Midge fly patterns are actually tied to imitate this midge lifecycle, which is what anglers target when they are trying to catch trout during a midge hatch. If you are not aware that midges come in different forms, then you might end up using one type of midge pattern for another midge species because you do not know any better.
A nymph fly pattern is different from midge fly patterns. A midge is a type of insect, while nymphs are actually aquatic worms that come in many shapes and sizes. Nymphs generally stay on the bottom of the water or within the mid to deep layers of sediment. Midge fly patterns are also different from caddis fly patterns because midges do not have an aquatic stage before they become adults as caddisflies do.
The term midge is associated with two different species among trout anglers: one being called "red midges" and the other being known as "blood midges". It may seem confusing at first for any trout fisherman to identify what are blood midges and red midges because the names given to these types of insects are not related to their blood color. Blood midges are named that way because of the red spots on them, while "red midges" get their name from the reddish-orange color they sport.
The good news is both midge fly patterns have similar characteristics in terms of what they look like and how trout target them when they're available for trout to feed upon. Both midge species also share common names among fishermen: midge larvae and midge pupae.
What Does A Midge Fly Imitate?
The midge fly imitates midge larva and midge pupae, which are found in midge habitats. Midge larvae appear in creek bottoms while midge pupae prefer the edges of lakes and ponds.
In terms of trout food sources, midges make up their own category because they're a much smaller type of insect than mayflies, caddisflies, or stoneflies. Trout typically target midges as food sources when there aren't other types of bugs available to them for eating. When that situation occurs, expect to find trout feeding aggressively upon midges until another food source appears.
What Does A Zebra Midge Imitate?
From the name Zebra midge, you can probably guess that this midge fly pattern imitates a midge larva. In fact, midges are classified into groups of three based on their appearance as larvae: the first group being the Zebra midge.
A zebra midge has a tan-colored body with black stripes running down its side. This is how the Zebra midge gets its name. Once they become pupae, midges lose some of those distinguishing characteristics and become more of brown color in hue and lighter in weight than when they were larvae.
As adults (midge flies), zebra midges have no wings; therefore, these tiny insects don't travel far from their habitat or feeding areas once they mature to the midge stage.
These midges are found in slow-moving or still waters where they can easily find food. Even though midge flies have a short lifespan, the fact that midges stay close to their home makes them susceptible to trout fishermen who know exactly how to replicate midges for catching these plentiful insects… and into your net!
There is more than one way to catch midges; however, the most used technique by anglers is midge fishing dry fly. This method of midge fishing involves using a dry-fly setup:
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Thread midge flies on regular hooks with leaders made from lighter lines (3X) than what you would normally use for other kinds of flies. The reason why midges work so well under these conditions is that midge larvae are the most prevalent stage of midges in trout waters, thus midges are easier to catch. To fish dry-flies effectively, midge fishermen use drift fishing techniques:
The midge fisherman imitates a midge traveling with the current, moving the fly up and down until it hits its mark. After you get this technique mastered, like any other kind of fishing setup, then you can try more advanced methods.
By using heavy flies or having your line sink faster by tying on a leader made from heavier material, midges can be fished against a strong headwind (or upstream) as well as into a fast current that would normally kill lighter flies. You will have even better results when sinking midge patterns.