Dishwashers and Top Secret Midges by Joseph Lloyd

I really hate emptying the dishwasher. Especially when it comes to sorting the silverware. It’s mindless, repetitive work but in order to have an effective and well-organized kitchen (and a happier wife), the work has to be done. Conversely, I don’t mind sitting for a couple of hours and tying flies.


Some might consider the two to be similar.


The dishwasher had to be emptied, as tomorrow is my first day on a new job and my favorite 7-year-old ball cap had to be washed. And the dishwasher is the best way I have found to clean a ratty, sweat stained, sun-bleached, and river mud tinged, old ball cap. I’ve heard that you’re supposed to look nice on your first day of work—so it is being washed. I wouldn’t think of leaving it at home.


Pat Dorsey, famed Colorado river guide, accomplished author and all around genuinely nice guy, has written several books on the South Platte river system and how to replicate the entomology that he has become so familiar to over his 30 year career. They’ve been an inspiration for my fly tying education and have lent themselves to not only a spot on my workstation but on the bedside nightstand, as well. Shoot, I read them whenever the mood strikes me (which is often) and his ideas, fly recipes, and knowledge of the Colorado rivers have given me more pleasant daydreams than should be allowed.


His book, Tying & Fishing Tailwater Flies, has become a bit torn in some spots because I will bookmark, dog-ear, and constantly flip through it. The tying instructions are easy to replicate with even my ham fisted and fumbling fly tying techniques due to the easy to follow instructions and high quality photographs.

I’ve tied many a fly out of this book (Churchill’s Sparkle Wing RS2, Dorsey’s mercury flashback, Bread crust, etc.…) and to tell you the truth—they simply catch fish. There’s a range of tying skills incorporated and the diversity is astounding but he has also thought to include different philosophies of how to fish different flies;discussions on how to rig it, where to put it in the water column, etc. is certainly expansive but not so technical that a beginner wouldn’t understand.


Dorsey’s most recent work, Colorado Guide Flies, assembles several hundred patterns that were collected using his vast resources across the state and years, and offers up a singularly exhaustive collection of the favorite flies from Colorado river guides. This guy, a world renowned trout guide/author/public speaker, is able to educate while not coming off as arrogant or exclusive, rather his style and personality is inclusive as it seems that he genuinely wants to let people know what he has found that works. It’s this sense of enjoyment that is pervasive through his work and if you have ever met him, will recognize this in his personality, too.


My plan is to work through these books and tie every single fly recorded in them over the course of the next year. Shoot, better make that 5 years because I would like some time in there to fish.


In the recent past, I used his recipe for what he calls the “Top Secret Midge”, a tie that was developed in the late 1990’s that seems absolutely irresistible to fish that are keying on microscopic midge/pupae. It has a two color thread body that looks like a quill but is much more durable and by changing the color combinations, provides what might be an essentially unimaginable number of color combinations that could be tailored to almost any stream or any geographic location. These flies are meant to be tied in as the 2nd in a tandem application.


Here is his recipe:

Hook: tiemco 24-88 #18-26

Thread: olive, brown, orange Uni-thread in 8/0

Abdomen: olive, brown, orange Uni-thread in 8/0

Rib: White 6/0 Uni-thread

Wing: Glamour Madera (#2400) (I personally used a Z-lon product because that is what I had at the time)

Thorax: rust brown superfine dubbing. (but I’ve used a bunch of subdued earth tones that have all met with success)



Thank you, Pat Dorsey, for your love of fishing, your local rivers, and your friendship. But I can’t thank you enough for sharing what you know…


Sure, the fly seems small and these aging eyes have to resort to both glasses and a magnifier to get them done but it hardly seems to be as repetitious as unloading the silverware from the dishwasher. I would rather spend 4 hours tying up a bunch of these (and have handed them out to friends and family) than spend 3.5 minutes separating the silverware. I guess it is all about perspective. My old ball cap should be drying out now and presentable (enough) to take with me tomorrow. And I can guarantee that I’m going to find some water this weekend when I get home to throw one of these flies.