Flyfishing the Sierras

Zebra Midge

spacer Zebra Midge
Tying Instructions
Materials:
  • Hook: TMC 2457, sizes 14-22
  • Thread: Black Uni-thread 8/0
  • Head: Tungsten Bead
  • Rib: Fine Silver Wire
  • Body: Black Uni-thread 8/0
  • Attractor: Pearl Krystal Flash

Notes:
This midge pattern is acclaimed to have orginated around the Lee's Ferry area of Northern Arizona along the Colorado River. It is very common throughout the Eastern Sierras and up into British Columbia as a Chironomid pupa pattern for Stillwater Lakes. Larvae patterns can be created by omitting the beadhead or by using a black microbead. The emerger patterns will have a small tuft of Antron protruding from the bead and a herl or dubbed collar. The Zebra Midge is usually a thread body of Black, Red, Olive, Brown, and Gray color. It can have a beadhead of Nickel, Copper, Gold, Black, or a Glass Bead. Sometimes, there is no beadhead and a head of rabbit or beaver dubbing is created instead. Generally, it is ribbed with Silver Wire. Sometimes, if a Copper Wire is used, the midge might be referred to as a Tiger Midge, as in the Eastern Sierra. The Olive Zebra is often used on the Lower Owens for a caddis larvae pattern.
Colorado Guide, Pat Dorsey, created a very similar midge pattern using black thread, copper wire, and black beaver dubbing, naming it Black Beauty.
Local Guide, Tom Loe of Sierra Drifters, often refers to the Crystal Zebra and the Crystal Tiger. These are basically variations of the Zebra and Tiger Midge using Krystal Flash as a trailing shuck.
Mike Mercer came up with another variation, his Zebra Midgeling utilizing microtubing for the body with an underbody of Pearl Krystal Flash. He also incorporates a Krystal Flash wingcase. The microtubing gives a nice translucency to the body. Mike ties it in Black, Brown and Olive colorations.
Fly Anglers Online has a good tutorial on the Zebra Midge at: Lee's Ferry Midge

Normally, I like to use a tandem set of zebra midges, 12-18 inches apart. Since trout usually pick off the chironomids near the bottom, the dropper midge should reside about six inches off the lake bottom. An indicator is used to indicate a hit but also to help establish depth control. Midging is particularly effective when fishing in less than 10 feet of water, although depths up to 14 feet might be necessary. Chironomids prefer muddy lake bottoms. They burrow into the mud but are often above the bottom surface during migration and hatching. The larvae are known to migrate during the Spring seeking warmer water. During the Summer, the larvae will do the reverse and seek deeper, cooler water. Often the hatches will follow this temperature flow by hatching in the shallower waters during the morning hours and hatching within the deeper waters during the late morning or early afternoon. Try imitating the Chironomid stages by using a larva pattern as the dropper below a bead-head pupa. Through the middle of the hatch, try using the bead-head pupa as the dropper below a bead-head emerger. A small split shot between the two flies will help keep tension on the leader and will result in improved hook-ups. A sight twitching action with pauses will give the zebra midge slight action and is often very effective. A slow retrieve using a hand twist is popular. When fishing these rigs, always maintain a straight flyline. Strikes may be subtle and you need direct line control to set the hook. The depth upon which the fish are feeding can range from the bottom to the surface. If there are rises showing, try an emerger pattern without any weight, to keep the midge just below the surface. Keep an eye out for hatches, they can happen at any time.

Variations:



Zebra Midge Larvae
Zebra Midge, Larvae


Materials:
  • Hook: TMC 2457 , #16-18
  • Thread: Black 6/0
  • Head: Black Thread
  • Shuck: White Antron
  • Body: Black Floss
  • Rib: Silver Wire


Zebra Midge Emerger
Zebra Midge Emerger


Materials:
  • Hook: TMC 2457 , #14-18
  • Thread: Black 6/0
  • Head: Pearlescent Glass Bead
  • Collar: Scud Grey Olive Ostrich Herl
  • Shuck: White Antron
  • Gills: White Antron
  • Body: Black Thread
  • Rib: Silver Wire


Black/Copper "Tiger" Midge Pupa
Tiger Midge Pupa


Materials:
  • Hook: TMC 2457 , #14-18
  • Thread: Black 6/0
  • Head: Copper Bead
  • Attractor: Lite Brite Flash
  • Body: Black Thread
  • Rib: Copper Wire


Red/Silver Zebra Midge Pupa
Red/Silver Zebra Midge Pupa


Materials:
  • Hook: TMC 2457 , #14-18
  • Thread: Black 6/0
  • Head: Nickel Bead
  • Thorax: Red Midge Superfine
  • Body: Red Floss
  • Rib: Silver Wire


Olive/Copper Crystal Tiger
Olive/Copper Zebra Midge Pupa


Materials:
  • Hook: TMC 2457 , #14-18
  • Thread: Olive Unithread 8/0
  • Head: Gold Bead
  • Shuck: Olive Krystal Flash
  • Body: Olive Thread
  • Rib: Copper Wire


Pearl Beaded Black Beauty
Pearl Bead Black Beauty


Materials:
  • Hook: TMC 2487BL , #14-18
  • Thread: Black Unithread 6/0
  • Head: Pearl Bead
  • Thorax: Black Beaver Dubbing
  • Body: Black Thread
  • Rib: Small Copper Wire


Mercer's Zebra Midgling
Zebra Midgling


Materials:
  • Hook: TMC 2457BL , #14-18
  • Thread: Black Unithread 8/0
  • Head: Tungsten Bead
  • Thorax: Black Ostrich Herl
  • Wingcase: Pearl Krystal Flash
  • Tail: Pearl Angel Hair
  • Underbody: Pearl Krystal Flash
  • Body: Olive BrownMidge Tubing
  • Rib: Small Silver Wire
© 2005 Steve Schalla
This page is not to be copied without my explicit permission.

Valid XHTML 1.0!