- Hook: Mustad 94840, #18-22
- Thread: Danville's Prewaxed 6/0, white
- Appendages: cream beaver dubbing
- Underbody: Flashabou
- Ribbing: extra fine silver wire (Lagartun's)
- Body: tying thread
|The Silver Midge has been in my midge box for years, a permanent position reserved for those "must-have" and very successful patterns. I've often told fellow fishermen to be sure to have this, but never gone into details on how to tie it, or just what it is. Here I've outlined the pattern with instructions, as well as made a minor improvement by adding and underbody of Flashabou. This addition lets you vary the color while maintaining the translucent effect of the white thread. (See variations at the bottom of the page...all were tied with white tying thread.)|
This pattern is fashioned after the larva of the Simuliidae family, with their distinct bowling pin shape. These are the bugs like Black Flies and Gnats that swarm all over you in the warmer months... you know the ones- they get in your eyes, ears, bite at you sometimes, and in general are a pain in the (insert body part here). These guys like swift currents, and are found in most waters where trout dwell. Depending on the species and their environment, they can be light gray, white, tan, or have a tint of some color like red or yellow. Try some attractor colors like blue or purple, as well. In addition to summer, this pattern can be effective in winter months, when midges are one of the only food sources.
The Simuliidae larva ranges in size from 3-15 mm. For tying purposes, sizes 18-22 are the most practical, using a dry fly hook to keep it slim. In my own fishing waters, the trout overwhelmingly prefer a size 20, so that's what I tie most of, and that's what hook size is shown in the tying instructions.
Note: The the thread is critical here. Danville's Prewaxed 6/0 in white will flatten out and the filaments can be spread. When laid down on the shank like this, it is very translucent. The 6/0 size lets you "spread" the thread further and tends to form to itself, allowing for the proper shaping of the body. Other threads may work, but I know some will not. Experiment with what you have and study the photos below to see if you get the effect. When fished, this characteristic (which is a key feature of the natural) shows up as the fly is wet and backlit by daylight.
|1) Secure the thread to the hook just over the hook point with four turns rearward. Clip the tag end of the thread and let/help the thread untwist... it will spin counter-clockwise (looking down on it). Wrap a single layer of the flattened thread about two turns into the bend. Note in the photo the wide, flattened look of the tying thread.|
|2) Apply a very sparse amount of dubbing to the thread. Keep it somewhat loose to obtain obtain a somewhat brushed-out appearance. Slide the dubbing up to the shank, wrap it around once, then another wrap in front of that one, and a third right on top of both in the middle. If you have a lot of extra dubbing, carefully pull it off so there is just enough for one more turn. Hold the thread bobbing above the fly (maintain tension) and slide all the dubbing down to the shank. Keep a finger nail on this to hold it in place and continue around with the tying thread to immediately if front of the dubbing. This gives us a translucent, shaggy (but not too shaggy) look.|
|3) By now, the thread may have twisted tight again in the tying process. Let it hang so it can flatten back out. I will use green Flashabou here to illustrate the translucent effect of the thread. To tie in the Flashabou, hold it at an angle against the shank on the near side and take one turn of thread... the waxed thread and weight of the bobbing will hold it in place until the next step. This one turn should slightly overlap the previous one, and the excess Flashabou should be extending to the rear to be wound later.|
|4) Tie the extra fine wire on top of the shank, the first wrap directly over the wrap used to hold the Flashabou, the next wraps in front, touching but not overlapping. Keep the amount of wire lashed to the top of the hook short, barely beyond the hook gap, no more than about 1/3 of the body length. Continue to the hook eye, rocking the thread as you go to further separate the filaments and widen/thin out the thread. Take care on each turn not to overlap the previous wrap. Notice you can easily see the materials and hook shank under the thread wraps.|
I should note here that I'm being very precise because of the size of the fly. When tying tiny patterns, especially with 6/0 thread, every turn has a dramatic impact. Done right, utilizing the characteristics of the thread, we can use this to our advantage. For instance, the tie-in area is wider which is often more effective than narrow and thick.
|5) Since we tied the Flashabou in at an angle, it already naturally lies around the hook shank. Just continue it around the shank directly right up against the dubbing. Cover the rest of the shank in touching turns up to the hook eye. Hold the Flashabou up and take one turn of the flattened thread around it, then another turn just behind that one, again not overlapping the previous wrap. You can now let go of the Flashabou. |
|6) Continue wrapping the thread rearward, rocking it to further widen it. With the edges of the Flashabou to grab at the filaments, the thread can be made very wide and thin. Note the width and sparcity of the thread in this photo to the one above. End at the first turn of Flashabou... you can cover just the front edge, but leave most of it bare. This will give the finished fly a bit of attractive glint. Trim the excess Flashabou close at the hook eye.|
|7) Now to build the body. To do this, wrap the thread forward to just shy of half of the body. Then wrap back and forward again, each layer smaller than the last. Maintain the flatness of the thread. Usually, four or five layers will give you the shape, which should be slightly larger in diameter than the hook eye, or a little more than twice the thickness of the hook shank. Finish with the thread at about the half-way point. This may take some practice, but you want to end up with a symmetrical oval-like shape. Don't try to get it smooth, as small bumps over the body will help hold the ribbing in place. Flatten the thread some more if necessary and wind a very thin layer up to the hook eye.|
|8) Wind the extra fine wire forward, the first against the dubbing, over the bare Flashabou. Keep good tension on the wire and wrap tight so it digs slightly into the thread... if the wire slides, wrap tighter and rock the wire slightly as you go. Continue up to the hook eye in a tight, but open spiral. You should get nine or ten turns of ribbing. Take one turn of thread around the wire and pull down on the bobbin to apply tension as you carefully clip the excess wire. Leave a small tag as shown in the photo.|
|9) Maintain the thread tension, take another turn of thread directly over the last. As you come around the far side over the wire, carefully pull the thread toward the hook eye (this is one fluid movement). The thread should slide forward and force the tag end of the wire down and around the shank to become trapped underneath. Take no more than three overlapping wraps of thread to build up the head a little, then tie a three-turn whip-finish knot, using the wraps of the knot to finish rounding out the head. Clip the thread close.|
|10) Cement the head. Be sure to use thin cement so it soaks down through the thread wraps. You can coat the whole body if you like, but I have not found this necessary as everything seems to stay put and the fly is really rather durable.|
|* These are all tied as in the recipe above except for the noted substitutions. Be sure to experiment with your own color combinations.|
Deadly Duo: The Silver Midge is perfect as a dropper to a midge cluster pattern. Use a 6x tippet at the end of the leader, then about 18-24 inches of 7x tied to the bend of a #18 Griffith's Gnat or similar fly. The #18 shown above (with #20 Silver Midge) is a Griffith's Gnat variation using synthetic dubbing and oversize hackle clipped on the bottom. The Gnat acts as an indicator, and takes it's own share of strikes as well.
|Purple Flashabou, dark gray dubbing|
|Red Flashabou, rust dubbing, gold wire|