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Fishing Midges Beyond the Tailwaters

When we think about fishing midges, many of us default to tailwaters and winter fishing. But that pigeonhole doesn’t do this little fly justice. Midges are a critical year-round food source for trout in rivers, creeks and lakes alike. This summer and fall, show your midge box a little more love.

Last summer I was fishing with friends on a high alpine lake above timberline. We knew the lake held some big cutthroats. In fact, we could see the colorful fish holding deep in the water. After several hours of fishing, we’d been skunked. They wouldn’t look toward the surface at any dry fly. And they turned away from streamers. Finally, one of my friends rigged up a midge about six feet under an indicator. With a slow hand-twist retrieve, he broke the shutout and landed a beautiful high-country cutthroat.


What is a midge? Midges are small, two-winged flies that belong to the order Diptera. There are a handful of families in this order and thousands of species. In some places in the west, midges are said to make up as much as 50% of a trout’s year-round diet. While small, these little flies are extremely prolific.

So, whether you fish them with a basic nymph rig, deep under an indicator, or just dangled below your dry fly on a small stream or beaver pond, midges are much more versatile than anglers often give them credit for. Let your midge patterns out of that “tailwater” or “winter fishing” niche and see what they can accomplish.

What’s more, midges are an easy fly to tie yourself. Even if you’re a beginner fly tyer, this is a great pattern to practice your skills. Check out our new video with Ben Baxter as he shows us how to tie a Zebra Midge:

Wherever you find trout and bugs, you’ll likely find midges. Tie up a bunch of these simple patterns and go fish them on your favorite creeks, rivers and still waters this summer!

If you need help or have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Stop by the fly shop in Littleton or give us a call at 303-794-1104. We’d be happy to help you with fly tying materials, midge patterns or anything else to get you out on the water. We’re offering free shipping on all orders here on the website. Curbside pick up is available as well.