Last week we discussed ways to improve your success when fishing for tailwater trout during the winter. This week we wanted to follow up with some “Go-To” flies that should be found in every tailwater angler’s fly box from November-March. You will notice a theme on all of these flies, they are small and sparse to imitate midges which are the main food source for winter trout. All photo thanks to our friends at Umpqua Fly Fishing.
Black Beauty – A classic midge larva imitation. Can be tied in a range of colors but black with sparse dubbing seems to be the fish’s favorite. If I had only one midge pattern to fish it would be this one. You can also easily add a tungsten or mercury bead on this pattern for a little variation.
Barrs Emerger – Technically a blue winged olive imitation but when tying in #22 or smaller, I feel it does a great job of looking like a buggy midge imitation. When tying it this small I use thread for the body as opposed dubbing but will still dub the thorax. Also never a bad idea to throw a #18 as a point fly as BWO’s will still occasionally hatch throughout the winter. You can add flash or a bead to this pattern but a simple, non flashy variant is my personal favorite.
Medallion Midge – Colorado Front Range Guide Pat Dorsey is a master at tailwater trout and fooling some of the most educated fish on the planet with tiny flies. This is one of his patterns designed for the technical trout of the South Platte but should have a place in any winter trout anglers box. An extremely accurate midge pupa imitation.
Mercury Midge – Another Dorsey pattern here. It is amazing how productive simple thread on a hook can be. One of the most effective midge patterns there is. You can mix it up with thread colors or just add a black head on the white body. The simplicity of this fly allows it to be tied in #24 which is often my favorite size for the pickiest of winter trout.
JuJu – Charlie Craven is one of the most innovative tiers in the sport. This fly offers endless color combination options and an accurate profile. Similar to the Barrs Emerger, it is designed to be a small mayfly but in the right size does a great job at imitating midges. A red Juju should have a full row in your winter fly box. Purple Juju’s are another personal favorite.
Pure Midge – Following up on previous flies, simple often results in the most accurate midge imitations. Another Colorado fly designer here, the famous John Barr with an easy to tie pattern that can catch tailwater trout year around. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different colors! I’ll often run two on a rig, one in a more natural black or grey and one in a brighter red or orange.
Rojo Midge – Yet another Colorado fly tier here. Let’s face it, not many trout fisheries have a major metropolitan city like Denver nearby which means there are some educated fish in the rivers. This pattern is designed by Greg Garcia and is a great emerging midge imitation. Ostrich plumes can add a fun, buggy variation as opposed to the peacock thorax.
Do you have any favorite midge patterns that we should include on our list?
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