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Midge Fly Patterns – Best Choices

When it comes to midge fly patterns, you can really get creative. There are so many good patterns that work well, and you can even make your own patterns. Crazy colors, different wires, and different beads can all make a good midge pattern.

There are some old standbys that always work well, and there are also some lesser known patterns. Since midges are such a huge part of a trouts diet, it is good to have a collection of midge patterns in your fly box. Ranging from sizes #16-#26, having a variety of midge sizes will help you catch more fish. Often in the dead of winter, we are fishing small #24’s. However, when the spring time rolls around, a #16 or #18 midge can work better.

Zebra Midges, Top Secret Midges, Mercury Midges, Bling Midges and Brassies are some of the best midge patterns available.

This guide will cover my favorite midge patterns for here in Colorado. Hopefully it will give you some guidance on which patterns to buy or tie yourself. These patterns will work for most trout streams across America, not just Colorado.

#1 – Zebra Midge Fly

This is probably the most popular midge pattern of all time. Zebras work well in all trout streams, and they can be tied in several different colors. Black, red and brown are the most common colors – but you can really get creative with them.

The ultra wire ribbing usually comes in silver or copper, but you can use different colors. I will often use red or blue wire just to mix things up.

The zebra fishes great with a tungsten bead, since it sinks faster. You can also use brass beads if you are trying to save some money, as brass beads are cheaper.

Since this fly is so simple, beginners can learn to tie it very quickly. You can whip out a bunch of zebras in a short tying session, which can really save some cash.

Zebras fish well in sizes #16-#24, and are tied on a curved hook. I like to tie them on a Tiemco 2488H. The “H” stands for heavy wire. This prevents the hook from bending out when you hook into a big fish. You can also tie them on a Tiemco 2457, which has lighter wire.

#2 – Top Secret Midge Fly

This Pat Dorsey pattern is probably my favorite midge. It fools trout on just about every river. There are many ways to tie the top secret, and I added some variations of my own. I like to use white wire for the ribbing instead of the white thread pictured above.

Adding a mercury glass bead really adds life to this pattern, but you can also fish them without a bead.

I find that sizes #20-#24 work very well here on our Colorado streams. You can fish them in larger sizes, but they don’t seem to work as well.

The flash wing is usually made of glamour madeira, but you can use midge braid as well. Just like an RS2 fly, there are a bunch of materials you can use for wings. Even CDC (Cul-De-Canard) feathers can work.

I highly recommend every trout angler has a few Top Secret midges in their fly box.

#3 – Mercury Midge Fly

The mercury midge is basically a zebra midge with a glass bead. These glass or “mercury” beads look like an air bubble that midges have when they’re hatching. By using a glass bead, it looks very realistic to trout since they’re used to seeing midges with air bubbles.

Just like the zebra midge, you can experiment a lot with colors and wires.

Pat Dorsey invented the Black Beauty, which is a great version of this fly. You can find the video above, which gives tying instructions.

My favorite glass beads are called “Killer Caddis” and they’re made by Wapsi. They’re good quality and also cheap. I use the midge size for #20-#24 hooks, and the small size for #16-#18 hooks. Killer Caddis beads come in many colors, but I prefer the clear diamond beads. They seem to fish better for me than the colored beads.

The Mercury Midge has been a staple in my fly box for years now. I have done really well with this fly, and I continue to fish it throughout the winter months.

#4 – Bling Midge Fly

This is a very realistic midge pattern that is easy to tie. These thin bodied Bling midges are irresistible to trout, especially during the winter months. The flashy thorax made of tinsel really gets the trouts attention.

Bling midges come in black, charcoal, and brown – but you can make your own colorways as well. Even on the most technical tailwaters such as the Fryingpan, trout will still be fooled by the bling midge.

These midges have no bead at all, so you’ll need to add some splitshot to get them down to the fish.

When trout are being super picky in the winter months, tie on a Bling midge – it works!

#5 – Thread Midge Fly


Thread midges encompass many different patterns. Basically, it is a midge tied entirely with thread. You can add wire ribbing or UV resin, but the midge is mainly just thread.

These work well because of their slim profile. They are about as slim as an actual midge larva, which trout love.

Play around with colors or just buy some from your local shop. I have been fishing a lot of reds, blacks and oranges. You may find that the trout key in on a certain color, after you experiment some.

Since they are so easy to tie, I usually recommend that fly anglers don’t buy these. By tying them yourself, you can save a lot of money.

Again, the Tiemco 2488H works well for this fly. You want them to have a curved look.

#6 – Brassie Fly

The Brassie is a super simple fly that pretty much works all the time. The body is UTC ultra wire, and the head is just peacock herl. The original copper color fishes well, but red can work great too.

Although this is a great midge imitation, it can also work during the warmer months as well. It just looks buggy and trout can’t resist it. My favorite sizes are #18-#22. You can fish the brassie with a bead head, but I like the unweighted version most of the time.

The Brassie works well even on technical tailwaters where the trout are picky.

When tying this fly, make sure to use the “Brassie” sized ultra wire. Yes, they made a wire size just for this fly! The “Brassie” size is the size between small and medium ultra wire.

#7 – Sprout Midge Fly

The Sprout Midge is a dry fly that imitates a midge very realistically. The white post allows you to see it easily, even in varying light conditions. When I see trout rising in the winter, I can usually get them to eat the sprout midge. Winter trout eat mostly midges, so it is pretty easy to “match the hatch” when you see rising fish.

I usually fish the sprout midge in a size #20, and black is my favorite color. I will also fish the cream version, but not as often.

Although it is less common to encounter rising trout in the winter, it is good to be prepared. Having some midge dries is a great way to target these rising fish.

#8 – Griffiths Gnat Fly

This is a dry fly that looks like a cluster of midges. When midges hatch, they often appear as small clusters on the waters surface.

Due to the look of the Griffiths Gnat, trout really mistake it for a cluster of midges that have just hatched. This is unlike other midge dries that imitate a single midge.

The video above by InTheRiffle shows you how to tie this fly. It is really simple.

This fly will work pretty much everywhere you see rising trout in the winter. You can fish them with a pink parachute post so they are easier to see. Without the post, keeping track of your Griffiths Gnat can be tough.

Although I like fishing size #20’s, the larger sizes can be productive as well. Larger #16 and #18 Griffiths Gnats look like a big cluster of midges. Trout often respond to this very well.

#9 – Poison Tung Fly

The Poison Tung is a Charlie Craven pattern that works wonders. Trout seem to respond well to the blue and grey color scheme on this midge.

Generally, it is tied with a tungsten bead so it can sink fast. You can also tie it with a glass bead if you want less weight. Mercury Poison Tungs can be very effective on pressured rivers. Sometimes, trout don’t like seeing shiny metal beads – they prefer the clear glass look.

This fly just works well all the time. You can fish it during the warmer months as a dropper, but the winter time is when it really shines.

Since this midge is so popular, you can find it in most western fly shops. I prefer sizes #18-#22 most of the time.

#10 – Ginny Midge Fly

The Ginny midge pattern is made entirely of pearl tinsel. It is about as simple as it gets, but it catches lots of fish. The tutorial above by Tightline gives great instruction on how to tie this fly.

This pattern is more of an online bug, so it can be hard to find in fly shops.

The tinsel glitters a lot in the sun, and trout can spot this fly very easily. I have caught some very picky trout by fishing the Ginny midge.

I like to keep this fly small, and I fish them in size #20-#24. The 2488H hook is a great choice for this fly.