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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cumberland River Flies: Midge Edition

Cumberland River Flies
On Midges
From The coldest days of winter, to the low generations of summer, you should never leave home without a selection of midges to cover all 3 stages of the midge or chironomid's life cycle. Actually there are 4 stages, if you count the eggs...but they have no importance to the trouts life cycle.

We like to fish 9' 4wt rods, with a double taper floating line. Fluorocarbon leaders and tippet are a must during clear, low water conditions. We like a good 9' leader, with a 3-6' tippet section depending on water clarity.
Check out Redingtons Classic Trout Rod, and The Drift Series of Reels by Redington. It is our favorite midge/nymph rod. Lots of umph, yet subtle enough for delicate presentations. Easy to get out Over 50 Feet of line.

The Life Cycle Of a Midge, Egg, Larva, Pupa, Adult

Chironomidae Larvae
 The Larvae of the Midge, or bloodworm is a wormlike form that is actually not a true worm all, due to it's exoskeleton and small clawed legs. The chironomid larva will spend its time living at the bottom of the river in the mud or sediment feeding on decaying matter. Bloodworms often get overlooked by many anglers but quite the opposite when it comes to feeding trout. Trout will often key in on the abundance of larva available and due to its familiarity, will readily feed upon larva even when other aquatic life is plentiful. Because you can find Bloodworms on or near the bottom of the lake, anglers will do well to keep their bloodworm patterns one or two feet off any bottom structure they may be fishing. The size of fly you choose to represent a midge larva should be up to three sizes larger then the adult midges seen hatching on the surface as the midge's body length decrease in size from larva, to pupa, then to adult. To imatate the Larva stage of this important food source try the following flies. Please remember, that to properly imitate this stage of the inscects life, you must fish DEEP. I like to fish a dropper rig, when imitating the bloodworm. I will fish a larger searching pattern such as a Prince Nymph in size 14 as the dropper, with a midge larvae pattern(Or two) as the point fly.
Remember, depth, and light tippets is key. In clear water, I will fish down to a 7x. Don't be afraid to add plenty of split shot, and be patient when fishing tandem rig flies. Knots are 

Sparse Is The Key. The most effective flies Ive used, have been nothing more than thread, wrapped on a hook shank!
Brassie In Sizes 14-20 Red, Copper, Green
Zebra midge Sizes 16-22 Red, Black
Or something Simple. Red thread on 16-20 
Or Try a Deep Brassie in #14-20

Midge Pupae
Emerging Midge Pupae
Detailed Image of Midge Pupae

When midge larvae reach maturity they seclude themselves in the bottom debris and begin pupation.  Pupas develop in as little as a week.  The pupal midges then rise to the surface and hatch in the surface film.  The rise to the surface can take quite a while.  In calm water this assent to the surface is a fairly straight line with the pupa hanging vertically, sometimes suspended for hours.  In moving water the pupa is swept along, often for a long distance before it finally reaches  the surface to hatch.  Hatching can occur any time of day or night, but is most prevalent during low light hours.  Midges are so prolific and divers that there are almost always midge pupa available to trout in any body of water at any time.  This makes the midge pupa one of the most important fly types. To effectively imitate the pupa choose the following flies:
Try A Zebra Midge in Olive, Black, Tan, Or Red #16-22

Wd-40 an old favorite #16-22

Zebra Flash Midge #16-20

Disco Midge #16-20

CDC Midge Pupa #16-20
And when you see fish feeding on Emerging Pupa, I like to use a RS2 in Olive, or Black #16-22

Surface Emergers
Surface emergers are designed to imitate the adult midge just as it pulls free of the pupal shuck. Although it might sound obvious, the most important part of a surface emerger's design is the correct amount of flotation to hold it in the surface film. As with the “vertical pupa” patterns described above, various materials can be used (foam, CDC feathers, hackle, etc.). It is important for anglers and fly tiers to note that very small variations in tying technique can affect how the fly floats and how it appears to the fish. 
In laymans terms:
When you see rising fish, and no inscects, there is a good chance fish are keying in on emerging pupa/surface emergers.
Keep an assortment of the following flies:

Foam Emerger #18-20
Crystal Midge(with CDC puff) #18-20

Adult Patterns
Although adult midges are much less important (to both fish and anglers) than surface emergers, they can be effective at times. Patterns to imitate an individual adult midge are similar in appearance to a surface emerger, except that the trailing shuck is left off, and it should be tied to ride higher on the surface film. When the fish key in on clusters of mating midges, an oversized Griffith’s Gnat (as large as a #14 or 16) is an excellent pattern to imitate these groups of bugs.

Griffiths Gnat in Size 16-20
Try a Adams or Adams Parachute in #18-24

Wrapping Things Up!
I have shared with you a good working knowledge of some of the life cycle and general imitations for the Midge.
There are a million other patterns out there that are effective for pursuing midge feeding trout. That is your job, to get out on the water, and see what does and doesnt work.
In my opinion though, this is about all you REALLY need, and anything else, honestly not necessary.

To finish things up, Im going to thank you for taking the time to check out my blog, and wish you the very best out there on the water.

If youd like to book a trip with us, or perhaps you are interested in finding out more about our water,
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