Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Deciphering a Midge Hatch

When I fish the Sipsey Tailrace I usually notice a midge hatch. The best hatches usually occur in the afternoon. Seeing a hatch on the Sipsey doesn’t always mean one will be successful landing trout fishing the hatch. As most of us know landing trout during a hatch depends on matching the hatch and how you present the pattern to the trout, and sometimes that doesn’t work. I know all of us have been there; where you are watching trout feeding heavy on a midge hatch and we cast everything in the fly box at the feeding frenzy and come up empty.

As most you know I just can’t let this hatch mystery go without doing a little research that hopefully will help all of us out on our next hatch adventure. The following image and explanation below are some of the best examples of hatch feeding I found. Keep in mind the bugs mentioned here are mayflies, caddis flies, emergers and a midge, but the surface action trout image below could be the same regardless of the insects.
Watching trout rise from a vantage point at the water's edge will tell you where to cast. But by taking an even closer look and noting how those trout are rising, you can also see exactly what type of fly to throw at them—especially when there are different insects flying in the air. Here’s what to look for.
1 - The Sip
What you see: A very subtle dimple in the water, and only the nose of the trout appear.
What that means: The fish are either sipping midges or eating spent mayfly spinners.
What to fish: A Rusty Spinner—but no bigger than a size 18.
2 - The Slurp
What you see: More pronounced “beaks,” eating on the surface.
What that means: The fish are dialed in on a hatch—likely mayfly duns.
What to fish: A size 18 Parachute Adams. When the fish are really chopping, try a cripple variation.
3 - The Splash
What you see: A sudden, explosive pop with some splash.
What that means: Trout are on moving targets, like skittering caddisflies.
What to fish: Tie on a caddis pattern, such as a size 16 Lawson’s Caddis, and don’t be afraid to give it a twitch.
4 - The Boil
What you see: Disturbed water but no faces—only a dorsal fin and maybe a tail.
What that means: They’re eating emergers before they reach the surface.
What to fish: A size 20 Flashback Barr Emerger just beneath the film.

The following illustration came from a Field and Stream publication

I stocked up on some hatch patterns on my recent visit to the new Cabala’s in Huntsville Alabama this past Thursday. This store had the largest selection of flies I have seen in any fly shop ever!!! I would also say that Cabala’s has a leg up on the Bass Pro fly shops when it comes to quality fly fishing equipment and accessories.

I’m curious what fly size and pattern would you select to get a hit using images 1, 2, 3 or 4?

Hope all you guys have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends!!!


Lester Kish said...

Hi Bill, nice simple graphic on rise forms. I usually use a small midge cluster type pattern for a lead fly and run a pupa as a dropper. That usually covers the sippers and tailers. The cluster is the indicator. Sometimes I'll dab a bit of floatant on the pupa too. I like the biot/cdc patterns as tied by Rene Harrop.

It's getting harder to see the small lead fly. I may have to go to something bigger, like a parachute, even though its not in season.

Unknown said...

Bill, midges are an absolute must to fish and learn if you are fishing most trout waters. Both stream fishing and lake fishing this is key. Now, with that said, I don't get the pleasure of fishing Midge hatches anymore. I simply cant see well enough to find my fly and I react always a little late. That gets frustrating!

In my younger days, I liked to fish the Midge cluster patterns as Lester commented. A Griffith's Gnat had to be my go to pattern for surface midge fishing. Yes, I did use a pinch on strike indicator to help me follow the fly even then...............

rivertoprambles said...

Thanks for posting a handy visual guide to common rise forms. It's a useful presentation with an eye to rising trout. I could probably come up with a favorite pattern in size and color for each form, but in actuality, when on the stream, I'd go with a more whimsical choice determined by what I have in front of me. As for midges, I'd select a Griffith's Gnat in size 20 or 22 before going to a Black Midge in the same sizes or down to a 24 or smaller. In dry flies, the Gnat is easier to stay sane with.
Happy Thanksgiving, Bill.

cofisher said...

Happy Thanksgiving Bill! I recently started fishing a small Zebra Midge with fantastic success. I stopped using midges a long time ago until I broke down and started fishing with a bobber. I'm not proud and the fish love it.

Bill Trussell said...

I too have trouble seeing the lead fly especially if it is smaller than a size 22. I haven't had a lot of success with dropper patterns on the Sipsey, but I will give it a try. Thanks for the comment

Bill Trussell said...

I like to fish a pattern that hasn't had the guts fished out of on the Sipsey, such as the Zebra Midge---so I will go with another pattern and yes the Gnat is excellent as a lead fly. I too have trouble seeing the dry at times, so I think I will go with something that has some white mixed in. Thanks for the comment

Bill Trussell said...

I have used the Gant and been successful with it during a midge hatch, but haven't had a lot success with the drop pattern. Time to fish a dry and dropper my next trip there; I purchased some interesting flies the other day in Cabalas and anxious to give them a try next time I see a midge hatch on the Sip. Thanks for the comment

Bill Trussell said...

The Zebra use to be a hot pattern on the Sipsey, but the bigger trout has got accustomed to this fly now, reason for me to look for something new. Thanks for the comment

Brk Trt said...

Bill wish I could help....any fly smaller than 16 is not in my box.
Happy Thanksgiving

Josh said...

Great to read about midge hatches. I've never fasted dries during a midge hatch. Just stuck to midges. Thank you for the suggestions.

CARF said...

I am not a good trout fisherman, and have never caught one on a midge. I tie midges for others, but haven't been able to get out for trout the past 2 years. I'm hoping I will this winter, and next year. I'll keep this post and others comments in mind when I'm looking for advice.

Bill Trussell said...

I hope you get a chance to try the midge, it can be a productive pattern. My only problem with this type fishing is seeing the fly. Thanks for the comment

Bill Trussell said...

The midge is my last go to pattern if all else fails. Thanks for the comment

Bill Trussell said...

Tiny dries used with a size 20 to 22 midge work during midge hatches, especially if the trout are sipping or just feeding under the surface. As I have said, it takes keen eyes to detect the hit. Thanks for sharing