Solving the dusk chironomid hatch??

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Entomology' started by cabezon, Jun 2, 2006.

  1. cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Posts: 1,713
    Ratings: +237 / 0
    We’ve all been there. The fishing has been slow during the heat of the afternoon, but cooler temperatures and dropping light levels signal the start of the magic hour on the lake. You start to see the occasional rise and if you look carefully, you can see a few husks on the surface or even a chironomid in the act of emerging. Or you see a chironomid buzzing over the surface, making a wake like a berserk motor boat as the females drop their eggs. What starts as a few sporadic risers builds to lots of trout active at the suface, some dippling and others lunging explosively across the lake. While some of the surface action appears at random, you can see some fish sipping bug after bug as they cruise just under the surface. The action continues to build until the evening becomes almost completely dark and then it dies away.

    I’ve run into this scenario at both Cady Lake and Dry Falls over the last month or so. I’ve put on midge emergers and Lady McConnells and cast them in the direction that I anticipate the risers will go next. I’ve put nymph pupae as trailers off the surface fly. I’ve caught a few fish, but I feel that I should be attracting more attention given the amount of surface activity and the dropping light levels. How do you handle this situation? What flies / fly combos are effective for you? Do you just leave the flies at the surface or impact some type of action? If action, what works for you? Do you simply fish pupa under the surface, perhaps with an indicator?


  2. Sageman Member

    Posts: 609
    Ratings: +9 / 0
    That used to drive me nuts up at Lake Padden in Bellingham. I caught a few on KMA emergers and even more just using a small styrofoam bead at the head of a standard chironimid with a trailer about 6-8" behind it. What I finally discoverd though, was to troll a black wooly bugger on a floating line right through the risers. Did better than anything else I could find. Used to love sitting out on the lake until well after dark doing this.
  3. Richard Torres Active Member

    Posts: 1,350
    Ratings: +76 / 0
    Sageman is right about the whooly buggers...
    I'd search for a trouts cruising pattern and throw a streamer before it makes it's next rise and hold on!
  4. Flyn'dutchman Member

    Posts: 459
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    I too have been involved in that hatch at Dry Falls the last two weekends. There is an "appropriate" fly to fish at these times. Black wooley bugger may do it but isn't the, how should I say it, correct mentod. I'd tell you what the fly is but the guy that came up with it would shoot me. My buddy was fishing it right next to me last Friday night and hooked about ten fish to my one. He wouldn't give me any as he was breaking them off too fast. I finally gave up. Got one other on a chironomid about one foot under an indicator.
  5. junebug41 Junior Dave Monti fan

    Posts: 371
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    He wouldn't give you one because he was breaking them off too fast? Man, you need to trade up for a new fishing buddy! That's awful.
  6. Taxon Moderator

    Posts: 952
    Ratings: +111 / 0

    Posts: 290
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    Try a skinny minny about 12-16in off a strike indicator. Pattern is nothing more than peacock herl for body and 2 wraps of pheasent rump for the thorax area. Match size to the natural hatch:thumb: Most takes will happen when you sloooooowly it just like a chironomid.
  8. jeff bandy Make my day

    Posts: 2,262
    Ratings: +290 / 1

    Sounds to me like the two of you were made for each other. Jeff
  9. Tony Tony

    Posts: 502
    Ratings: +59 / 0
    Over the years of fishing the dusk hatch at Cady which can be the most frustrating and trying time to fish the lake, I've tried many types of flies, emergers,adults,streamers,large flies, small flies,very small flies and I've yet to come up with any one pattern that will consistantly draw strikes, sure I'll get looks and refusals and just when I think I've got it figured out the next time out will be a bust or like one time I was fishing some #22 adams having some success and 2 guys show up start throwing some #8 royal humpies and just begin slamming the fish. I think when the fish start keying in on little tiny emergers at dusk and all around you fish are rising, taking some unknown just under the surface, this is when the fun begins, trying different patterns changing up after getting refusal after refusal, going home and tieing up some new creation to try the next time, remembering how a stripped #18 tdc just tore the fish up at lenice one week but the next time out did nothing for me, I just love it.
  10. g_smolt Recreational User

    Posts: 916
    Ratings: +161 / 0
    Try a loopwinged midge emerger 2 or 3 hooksizes larger than normal...say, a 14.

    Smoosh a little floatant into the loop, then put that near risers.

    If all else fails, go with the size 6 black leech.
  11. IveofIone Active Member

    Posts: 3,057
    Ratings: +1,069 / 0
    I was in just such a hatch a couple of weeks ago and did surprisingly well on a lake that had frustrated me several times. The winning pattern was tied on a #16 down eye scud hook. The body was just brown thread with a rib of very tiny gold holographic tinsel. The wing was a very small clump of deer hair tied forward in comparadun style. It took several nice fish in the failing light and missed several others. When it finally became too dark to have any idea where the fly was on the water I changed to a #10 brown wooly bugger with a few strands of crystal flash in the tail. This took 3 more fish before the last fish broke it off.

    Next time out chances are neither one of those flys will hook a fish but for a few minutes I looked like I knew what I was doing. Those hatches are either boom or bust but I always look forward to them. With summer approaching many of those dusk hatches will consist of micro caddis and we need to be ready for those also. Small soft hackles-16-18-fished right in the film do well on streams. I seldom screw around with dries under those conditions as the fish seem to be aggressively feeding just below the surface. Just get the fly in the feeding lane, keep a tight line and hold on.Takes are decisive.
  12. cabezon Sculpin Enterprises

    Posts: 1,713
    Ratings: +237 / 0
    Hi folks,

    Thanks to everyone for their input on this question. I come away with two divergent thoughts. First, I take some comfort (?) that I'm not alone in my frustration with this situation. Second, thanks to your ideas and experience, I have a bunch of new options when facing this situation in the future.

    Tight lines,

  13. Steelie L Member

    Posts: 215
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    One of my most cherished stillwater tactics...

    Size 16 Parachute Adams on top, with an unweighted size 16 Chan's chironomid dropper about 8-12 inches below. (Tie dropper to hook bend of Adams.) Both flies will draw takes -- though the biggest, baddest fish usually go for the dropper. Two years ago at Dry Falls, I had a fish grab the chironomid, then suddenly come off. Turns out he straightened the hook of the Adams.
  14. James Mello Inventor of the "closed eye conjecture"

    Posts: 2,787
    Ratings: +88 / 0
    Oddly enough that's pretty similar to what I do (when I have the discipline), except I use 2 "wet" flies. In general if I see fish "porposing", I'll usually throw on a couple of tiny unweighted chrono imitations and let it sit subsurface on a greased line. I also "pump" the flies a bit with a shake of the rod tip every now and again to keep 'em moving.

    But more often than not, I fall to the luster of "fools gold" known as the dry fly and waste most of the dusk hours throwing cripple imitations for naught!

    -- Cheers
    -- James