At this point in the year, winter is starting to give way to spring, and for me, that means a change of the flies. Here are the three late winter dry flies that get me through an afternoon on the waters. There are times when the best method is to “match the hatch”. I’ve learned that when it comes to winter fishing on Utah small streams, close enough is good enough. Imagine the life of a fish, every year when it drops below freezing, the fish enter the great depression. Suddenly there isn’t enough water to house them, there isn’t enough food to feed them, and the cold is downright miserable. Imagine the female fish sending out their starving fry to sell eggs on the corner. “Get your eggs!” “Fresh eggs, just laid this morning.” “Buy these ones…me mums part German.” “Ah mom, do we have to have water for dinner again?” Sad, isn’t it?
During the winter, the floating buffet table may only come around once every few days. Fish need to take the opportunity when it presents itself. So, as I said, close enough is good enough. What would a winter stream be without midges? These tiny flies love to be out in the slow pocket water and eddies on a sunny winter day and make up a good portion of the winter diet. The ones normally seen in central Utah are black with white wings. They will sit right on the surface or hover and inch or two above it. Many times they can be seen in small clusters. My point is, these midges, for the fish at least, are dinner. I use three patterns with regular success.
The Griffiths gnat I use when I’m seeing a lot of midges clustered together. I see more clusters in the slower eddies and around the foam edges. It’s a little bulkier than a single fly, but bulk is what we’re after. The splayed hackle front to back helps it float high in the water and gives the appearance of several pairs of wings, legs and tails. Generally I tie them 18-20.
A Mosquito is a good all around pattern for any time of the year. In the winter I use them size 16-18 when I’m wanting to imitate a single midge. Don’t let the size fool you. Midges sit with their back legs lagging to the rear, with a set of antennae poking out the front. These factors make them appear larger than they are. Midges have a slim body, same as a mosquito. I fish these where the current moves a little faster forcing the midges to land and hover repeatedly to maintain their place in the water.
And third, I just call it a midge pattern. There’s probably a proper name. I don’t know it. It’s just something I started tying one day. Tied in size 20-24, the idea was to have a smaller fly, but maintain visibility. This midge pattern is designed to look like a drowned bug. As you can see in the picture, I think it’s “close enough”. Fished low in the water, it’s almost to the point of being a wet fly. The poly yarn for the wings is tied with a figure 8 allowing the yarn to spread like water logged wings. It is also buoyant enough to keep above the surface while the body sits just below.
Now if i can just get out to use them, life will really be good.