Zebra Midge Variations

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 , 14 Comments

No other fly has proven itself more effective in catching trout for me compared to the Zebra Midge. This lowly, small, unassuming fly is also perhaps one of the simplest and easiest flies to tie. But don't let this dissuade you. From the White, to the Driftless, to Lee's Ferry (where it was invented) this fly produces. As it is my most effective pattern; I have learned and employed several variations based on the original black/silver bead head design. Below are several of the variations I employ and if applicable comments on when I use that particular one. I find that sizes #20-16 seem most effective regardless of variation. 

          Often one of the first flies I try at all times of the year in all conditions, along with hares ears and pheasant tails, the zebra midge is one of those "go to" nymph patterns.  

          Given clear water and bright conditions, the addition of peacock herl provides a subtle but effective variation.

          Adding a strand of flash to the end of the midge, adds both movement and visual stimulation.

Pink Neck
            By far my most used zebra midge variation; sometimes it pays to stand out from the crowd. Overcast or sunny, this pattern will produce. Be sure to have a few of these in your box. 

           My go to midge at Taneycomo. Seems to work better when sunny. 

          According to several articles I have read and from personal experience, purple while not a color often found in nature, is a color optimized within the range of trout's natural visual spectrum. Steelheaders and bass fisherman are all to familiar with purple and long has it been a secret favorite. Again sometimes it pays to stick out. 

          Great pattern for overcast days or when subtlety is the key. 

Light Pink/Cream
          Is this a zebra midge variation or a variation of the "miracle midge", who cares, but be sure to try this at your favorite tailwater. 

Solid Black 
           Another pattern that seems most effective in overcast, or low light conditions. 


Juan said...

I know NOTHING about midges! Do you fish them under an indicator? Nice looking flies as usual!

Of all the small nymphs I have used to fly fish; the standard zebra midge has to be my all time favorite. In fact if had to choose a nymph pattern I had to use the rest of fly fishing days it would be the zebra midge. I have had some success with the brighter patterns, but the standard colored zebra always produces. You did an excellent job at the bench with all the different color patterns. Thanks for sharing

Atlas said...

Juan, the Zebra Midge is one of my all time favorites. I generally fish it under an indicator or during the summer under a hopper or larger dry.

Atlas said...

Bill, like you the standard has always been the best producer for me, but followed closely in order: standard w/pink neck, red, and purple.

Jay said...

Around the White River, they call that one with the flash in the tail the "Rim Shoals Zebra Midge"... and that's how I always tie mine. I've had it outperform the "flashless" varieties so much that I just always put it in now.

Atlas said...

Jay, thanks for the comments. While i have used the one with flash on countless other streams and rivers I have yet to use it on the White, thanks for the tip. I will have use it for sure next time.

One of my favorites is the "Super Midge" which is basically any zebra midge tied with a tuft of marabou in place of the crystal flash you like to use.
Killer on the White , try it and you'll be sold.

Atlas said...

Thanks for the suggestion Jeff, I will have to tie up a few of those for sure!

CARF said...

You just gave me some more patterns to tie! I've been working on the plain zebra midges, and getting bored tying them. I'm going to add a peacock collar to the next batch. Thanks!

Atlas said...

Glad I could provide some inspiration Justin. Be sure to check out the one with the pink as well--that is a killer variation. Thanks for the comments.

I need to pin this post somehow... very interesting descriptions on light conditions that I will take note of. I just barely tied up a black midge with a pink collar thinking that it might attract. Love the simplicity of the zebra midge. It has always been my go-to fly in a pinch.

Atlas said...

Thanks Damsel glad I could offer a few suggestions, the Zebra Midge is a producer for sure

Unknown said...

I like the standard and also the red.

Atlas said...

Randy, yep they are both go too colors. Did really well last weekend on the red at Taneycomo.