Chironomids!!

Admunky

New Member
So I’ve put in time on chironomids for the first time this year. At first it was hard to put faith in such a small offering, but after I consistently put the flies in front of the fish I started seeing results.
I’d like to hear your opinion on how often you use them, through the progression of the open water season. I’m sure it’s specific to the water you’re fishing, but do you move onto other hatches as they appear? Just an example, I started fishing chironomids this spring knowing it was the most abundant food source but as the water warmed mayflies became the focus for the trout. Then damsels, dragons..... I followed those hatches and had success but are some of you fishing chironomids while those other food sources are available with success?
I’d like to know about colors and sizes you fish as well. Do you even fish a size 18 or should I get some in my box just in case? I’m sure different people will approach the Stillwater they are fishing differently, and each water is different with different variables like fishing pressure, available food sources, ect, but that’s what I love about Stillwaters.
Hope everyone had a great Christmas and a great season and I’m looking forward to hearing the different opinions
 

Buzzy

Active Member
I'm surprised no one has responded to this yet. Oh - that's right. Christmas. Merry Christmas.

Chironomids are in your lakes year round, just not in the density as summer/fall. Trout are opportunistic. I fish a Central WA stillwater into late July and often find fish with midge patterns. How small? That varies. Size 18 - not so much on this particular lake (thank goodness as when the flies are that small I have to put on my 5X cheaters to get the leader through the hook eye and tie the knot). I do fish midges to size 20 - spring in local and BC lakes.

I've fished with a couple guys who follow the hatches north. They like the early season, ice off midge fishing in BC and spend weeks to more than a month following hatches. They're secretive as all get out so that's about all I can share. I get up to the Kamloops area every June. One year we went up mid-May because of a timing conflict. I've been bugging my friends to "let's do that again". The chironomid fishing was by far better for us in mid May than early June. But that one year is a pretty small sample to base it as fact.
P1010157.JPG


A size 16 - I do prefer 16's and up....
 

onefish

Active Member
I think chironomids are to trout as potato chips are to humans. Put some potato chips out and even if you are not hungry you will grab a few to munch on. I find that even when they are not on chronies they will take them to some extent just because they eat thousands of them every year.
I am currently tying some up on #18 and #20 scud hooks. I only had a dozen or so of these tied up last year and on 2 outings the microscopic chronies are what the fish wanted. Guys around me had nothing that small and the fish just wouldn't take their larger offerings.
I was skeptical that the fish would find such tiny flys but I was wrong and pretty happy I had taken the time to tie these little buggars up.
 

jwg

Active Member
There is definitely a progression of different chironomid species as the spring progresses. A friend of mine figured it on for basin lakes, for himself.

I mostly fish size 12 to 16, but have no doubt I would benefit from fishing smaller sometimes.

A gross generalization would be that smaller patterns become increasingly important as the season progresses.

But a good size 12 pattern may be taken opportunistically any time.

An interesting life cycle fact is that the worms are bigger than the pupa.

J
 

dbk

Active Member
Fishing chironomids in stillwaters can produce some epic days when it all comes together and the timing is right.. there can be a lot of variables to consider although in any given situation some variables will matter more than others.. the best chironomid fishers seem to hone in on those that matter while eliminating those that don't with an ongoing willingness to adjust as things change within an emergence as they often do.. A book could be written on this subject and systematically address the technical aspects of fishing chironomids in lakes.. that being said an important variable is size as you could encounter "bomber" type 'mids that are a 6 or 8 down to the micro midges size 20 or smaller and everything in between.. although in most lakes size 12-16 patterns will imitate the naturals trout are feeding on a lot of the time.. but not all. It pays to have some of the bigger and smaller imitations in your box and if you can do some homework ahead of time as some lakes can have prolific hatches of bombers and micro mids..

Color is also an important variable as throat sampling will often reveal but given the sheer volume of different chironomid species the color variations are not infinite but could seem like it.. that being said some colors are standard and should be in every fly fisherman's box who fishes chironomids. Black, olive, brown, tan, "gunmetal" grey, red, and the ubiquitous "chromie" color are all commonly present in most stillwaters. There are many variations on those standard colors that can be addressed by "thread blending" to create a subtle transition from one color to another in the same pattern.. or patterns that incorporate a different color at the "butt" section to initiate the naturals which display this characteristic.. using anti static bag or window film wrapped over different colored underbodies can create some cool looking bugs with non uniform color schemes that also reflect the non uniform appearance at times of the naturals.
Keep it simple to start and expand it from there bases on the lakes you fish and your experiences on them.. The fish will tell you a lot
 

IveofIone

Active Member
WFF Supporter
I find that mids are really effective early in the season before other hatches get going and again in fall once the main hatches taper off. But I fish them all season nevertheless. The chironomid below a level leech seems to work much of the time. Some of us old guys fish them just to take a break from the rigors of casting and stripping or kicking around looking for fish. When you are on a lake from early morning to last light it is nice to just stop moving for awhile, sling out a bobber and start snacking. But sure as hell-that bobber will go down once you get comfortable...
 

sea2stream

New Member
I seem to have the most trouble trying to find at what depth the fish are at in stillwater. The lake I usually fish is over 30ft deep at times. There are a couple of really good midge fishermen that are often in the deepest part of the lake and always seem to be very successful. I try and use the count down method with a full sinking line, but consistency is fleeting. I usually count by sips off beer, so maybe not the most accurate.
 

Buzzy

Active Member
I seem to have the most trouble trying to find at what depth the fish are at in stillwater. The lake I usually fish is over 30ft deep at times. There are a couple of really good midge fishermen that are often in the deepest part of the lake and always seem to be very successful. I try and use the count down method with a full sinking line, but consistency is fleeting. I usually count by sips off beer, so maybe not the most accurate.
By using the search function on this site you can find enough information on midge fishing methods/techniques to write a series of books. With that full sinker you have, I'd recommend measuring depth to bottom and adjusting your cast length so that when your line is vertical, the fly is a foot or so off bottom. Inch it up, slowly. Cover the water from bottom to top. Repeat. Change bugs, move. Different color, size. @dbk mentions the big buzzers. Lake Lenore can, sometimes, have a hatch of midges that are an inch long. At my age I don't need 5X cheaters to tie that big thing on! ;-)

Welcome to the forum
 

Steve Kokita

FISHON206
I seem to have the most trouble trying to find at what depth the fish are at in stillwater. The lake I usually fish is over 30ft deep at times. There are a couple of really good midge fishermen that are often in the deepest part of the lake and always seem to be very successful. I try and use the count down method with a full sinking line, but consistency is fleeting. I usually count by sips off beer, so maybe not the most accurate.

I like your beer count down....if you’re not catching fish at least you’re catching a buzz!! Try putting some hemostats on your fly like indicator fishing, then just cast out, sip some beer and wait until your line is vertical.....
 

sea2stream

New Member
By using the search function on this site you can find enough information on midge fishing methods/techniques to write a series of books. With that full sinker you have, I'd recommend measuring depth to bottom and adjusting your cast length so that when your line is vertical, the fly is a foot or so off bottom. Inch it up, slowly. Cover the water from bottom to top. Repeat. Change bugs, move. Different color, size. @dbk mentions the big buzzers. Lake Lenore can, sometimes, have a hatch of midges that are an inch long. At my age I don't need 5X cheaters to tie that big thing on! ;-)

Welcome to the forum
Thank you for the tips. I'm probably not letting the fly get deep enough before starting the retrieve.
 

sea2stream

New Member
I like your beer count down....if you’re not catching fish at least you’re catching a buzz!! Try putting some hemostats on your fly like indicator fishing, then just cast out, sip some beer and wait until your line is vertical.....
Might have to try that.
 

troutpocket

Active Member
In the spring I look for a combination of water temp over 45, fresh chironomid shucks on the surface, swallows skimming the surface, and “happy fish” - bulges on the surface caused by feeding trout in the upper water column. If all of those are happening there is a very good chance of putting together a great chironomid bite. It can still be good without all the giveaways but if you pay attention, the fish will tell you what to do. I don’t usually try a chironomid until the signs are there or I find them in a throat sample. If I rig two patterns, the bottom one is a blood worm.

the summer can still be great if trout key on your chironomid in the midst of all the other food available. Sometimes a #12 or 14 ‘mid gets eaten when a callibaetis nymph, damsel, caddis, dragon, scud, boatman, leech, etc doesn’t. Other times, not so much.

Fall isn’t a time when I plan on chironomids but sometimes it’s what they want. Later season is when I often size down, 14 and 16’s, maybe 18. Sometimes hanging the bugs in the middle of the water column makes a big difference in the fall.

Winter is when I usually try a blood worm unless I see shucks.

Mixing up a chironomid rig with a leech, damsel nymph, callibaetis, etc often works well.
 

Admunky

New Member
Man I wanna go fishing right now! Definitely seems like certain lakes are better suited for chironomids than others. I fished crane prairie this spring a couple times, ( I live in Oregon but this is the only Stillwater forum spot I’ve found) those fish would eat a leech but definitely packed full of chironomids when throat sampled. Tied on chironomid and it was game on! I put a lot of time in at East lake and they seem to go through phases pending on what’s available. This fall I didn’t throat sample a single pupa, just a few tiny tiny larva with a variety of other food sources. Can’t wait to do it all over again with my new boat!
 

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