The Optimidge is a pattern designed by Kent Rianda around 2002.
Kent is the owner of The Troutfitter and The Trout Fly of Mammoth Lakes, CA. Kent guides
mostly on Crowley Lake and has designed these patterns after the chironomids that frequent the lake. When I first saw this pattern I thought it was a variation of the Zebra Midge but it really is not. Kent pointed out that the key to the pattern is the wire that is wrapped
around the shank prior to the threaded body. These spirol wraps give the pattern additional weight as well as the segmentation of the natural chironomid. He calls this the "opti" of the Optimidge. Kent prefers to use White Hareline dubbing for the gills. He added a threaded tail in 2008 coated in Super Glue and marked for segmentation. This created a more slender sillouette to the pattern. He also found that changing to a TMC 200R hook rather than the TMC 2487 increased the number of takes by the trout since most chironomids will have an elongated profile rising through the water column rather than the "J" that is often presented with midge patterns such as the Zebra Midge. The Black Optimidge with Red/Black ribbing uses Red Wire and Black 6/0 thread. The Red wire and Black thread is wrapped between the wire segmentations beneath the thread body. Recently, Kent added a Red bead to the Gray/Black optimidge and included a green flashback.
He found that this fly did better than others when the algae coated the surface water but the bottom was clear. Olive, Black, and Gray are excellent colors when the water is relatively clear. As the algae becomes heavier within the water column, adjust the colorations towards purple and red.
Normally, I like to use a tandem set of Optimidges, 12-18 inches apart. It had been thought that trout usually pick off the
chironomids near the bottom, thereby the dropper midge should reside about six inches off the lake bottom. However, Kent has noticed, through underwater video, that the trout will actually pick up chironomids throughout the water column when they are on the bite. An
indicator is used to indicate a hit but will also help establish depth control. Midging is particularly
effective when fishing in less than 10 feet of water, although depths up to 14-20 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 optimidge 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.