Fly Fishing with Midges part 3
Posted: May 19 2015Over the past few weeks I have had the pleasure to fish small midge patterns to trout while others have gone home after the early morning trico hatch. It has been a lot of fun, and for the most part, very successful.
One reason for our success has been the ability to get our small midge patterns in front of fish and keep them there. Trout need to eat - even in the middle of the day during summer. It is just a matter of finding the right spots and presenting the fly to the fish. We have been targeting fish that are in streams with spring influences and spring creeks themselves. This means fishing to trout that have little to no stress from the heat of summer, and that will feed constantly throughout the day.
I have written about some of the techniques we use out here in WNY to be successful on a consistent basis, but I thought I would try and give you some photos of rigs I use and how I fish them, the use of weight, indicators, and anything else I can think of that we use to catch trout on small midge larvae. Fishing midges in the film and as a dry is a different game, and I will try and go over that some other time.
As I described before - when trout are feeding on small midge larvae, they will often take a position in the stream that will syphon food to them without expending a lot of energy. This means that your presentation needs to spot on. And once it's there in the feeding lane - it needs to stay there as long as possible! You will often see trout holding in a feeding lane move only so slightly to one side and open their mouth to take in a small midge larvae. And if I can do it, I will position myself as close to the fish as I can without spooking them. That will give me an advantage when I am drifting small flies to feeding trout. I can high stick nymph and watch both my indicator and the trout. This takes some practice, but if you can get the hang of it, it will increase your catch rate. Using this tactic allows you to track the drift of the small midge larvae with the indicator, while keeping an eye on the trout. Imagine if you will - watching the indicator as it drifts towards the trout and then as the indicator gets almost right above the trout, switch to watching the fish in the water, when you see the white of the trout's mouth or see the trout move over to take the fly....set the hook! Like I said it takes a bit of practice to get it right, but when you do, it should increase your catch rate because you become less dependent on watching the indicator and more focused on the trout.
The other key factor in catching fish consistently on midges is getting the right drift. This boils down to the right leader, weight, and line management. Using a longer piece of tippet will help in getting the fly down fast and keep it there. I try and start with at least 3 to 4 feet of 6x, going lighter only if I need to. I position my indicator to the depth of the water based on the distance from the top of the water to were I have put my weight on the leader, leaving the fly to flow up or down based on current and depth. Using light tippet will allow me to use less weight, while also providing less drag while in the water. Next I will start with a medium sized split shot about 3" inches from the fly. I will add more weight if the fly isn't staying near the bottom for most of the drift, or if I am doing a lot of mending, and the fly won't get back down fast enough after each mend. This is perhaps the most difficult part of nymph fishing. Too much weight and your fly hangs up on the bottom all the time, too little, and the fly will not stay in the trout's feeding lane. It is made even more difficult by the ever changing depth of the streams and rivers we fish. This is why the most successful nymph fishermen are always making adjustments. The last part of this whole nymphing with midges thing is line management. And it is why I try and get as close to the fish as possible when dead drifting a midge - or any nymph for that matter. Getting close to the fish means less line on the water. It will allow you to close the response time when a fish takes the fly, and allow you to set the hook sooner. This is especially important when the trout only moves a fraction of an inch to take a fly. If you can't get close, managing your line so that you have as little line on the water will improve your hook-ups. This may mean you will have to make many small mends, and strip in line when needed to keep it off the water. You may also want to keep excess line on the reel instead of by your feet while fishing. I have seen to many people miss, or lose fish because all the extra line had tangled on some part of their gear.
Sometimes I will fish a two fly rig if I think it will help me get into a few more trout. When I do this, I use a larger more flashy point fly, with a small midge larvae off the bend of the point fly as a dropper. This can be an advantage, as it sometimes will trigger a trout to focus on the attractor pattern, and then take the midge larvae. This works well when you want to make your fly stand out a little from all the naturals. If the trout are taking just the dropper fly, then I will usually take the larger point fly off and just fish the smaller midge larvae.
The color and size of midge larvae will vary on the time of the year and the place you fish. You may have great success with a #16 red worm pattern during winter on stream X, and then have to change to a #22 purple midge larvae in spring on the same stream. Or fishing a size #22 brown midge may work on your stream, but not on mine. You will have to tie up a few of each size and color and then fish them to see what would work best for your stream.
I hope this gives you a little better description on how I fish a dead drifted midge larvae. If you have any more questions let me know and I will try and get back to you as soon as possible......thanks for reading.