If you pump the stomachs of a lot of fish, you will quickly notice that trout eat midge pupa year round. These insects are available to fish all year long, but there are certain times of year when trout thrive almost exclusively on various midge life-stages. Usually during the colder months of the year, winter and spring, fish focus heavily on midges and can be taken on a variety of midge imitations. Trout will rise to midge adults during “carpet hatches”, but when there are only a few midge adults present and the trout appear to be rising, often they are sipping midge pupa just below the water’s surface. They appear to be surfacing, but if you watch closely you can see that their dorsal fins and tails are coming out of the water while their mouths stay just below the surface. This is the ideal time to fish a zebra midge. I will usually tie a zebra on as a dropper 12-16” below a midge adult pattern, such as a Hi-Vis Griffith’s Gnat, traditional Griffith’s Gnat, or any other large midge cluster dry. This way the unweighted zebra drifts below the water’s surface and trout go bonkers for it! When trout do not appear to be feeding at the surface I will fish a tungsten zebra midge on a tandem nymph rig as the second fly behind a larger heavier fly (depending on the water depth and velocity). This gets the fly deeper and closer to the fish. The great thing about a zebra midge is that by changing the thread color, wire color, or bead color many variations can be tied. They are simple yet effective patterns that catch fish year round. Some of my favorite color variations include silver or black bead, silver wire, and black thread (like in the video); copper bead, copper wire, and black thread; two tone zebra: black thread at the back of the fly, olive, red, or tan thread closer to the bead, silver wire and silver or black bead; and the list goes on from there. I carry them in sizes 18 through 22 (size 18 is my favorite), and I know a lot of guys that fish them in even smaller sizes. There is always a decent selection of zebra in my box, and realistically they are one of my favorite spring-time patters that I fish heavily until things warm up and trout change their focus to larger food items. They are easy, durable, inexpensive flies to tie that flat out catch fish. Trust me on this one, trout love them!Recipe: Hook: Tiemco 2457, 2488, or any equivalent scud hook Bead: Silver (brass or tungsten) Wire: Silver BR Thread: Black 8/0
Note: Simply change the thread, wire, or bead colors for other useful variations.