A friend of mine recently told me about this great little pattern called “Peg’s Midge”. It’s not too difficult to tie, even in the smallest of sizes and can be used to cover a variety of midge hatches. In the late fall and winter, patterns like this are essential when you need to get that dry fly fix.
nOn a side note, at this time of year, often what appear to be emerger rises are actually trout taking adult midges on the water’s surface. Trout get their top jaw just barely out of the water for only a split second to take the adult midge. It can be very difficult to see this with the naked eye.
nFor Peg’s Midge, I start with a TMC 100 dry fly hook in a size 26. Plunger-style hackle pliers do make handling hooks this small much easier. Fine needle nosed pliers work especially well for mashing the barb. You can usually hear a click when its either been bent down or broken off. Get the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise and, yes, midge jaws like these are a treat to work with.
nFor thread, I’m going to go small with Veevus 16/0 in a dark brown. Start your thread on the hook shank leaving a little space behind the eye and take a few wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag.
nCream or white dry fly hackle fibers are used to form the tail of the fly. The feathers out by the edge of the neck usually have nice, stiff, straight fibers. After plucking a single feather free from the skin, preen down and strip off the lower fibers that are fuzzy and webby. Then get hold of 3 or 4 straight fibers, pull them down perpendicular to the stem and, while keeping their tips aligned, strip them free. Measure to form a tail about a full hook in length and transfer that measurement rearward to the start of the hook bend. Using a pinch wrap, begin securing the hackle fibers to the top of the hook shank with wraps of tying thread. After 3 or 4 wraps, check and make micro adjustments to the tail length if necessary. Continue taking thread wraps rearward all the way to the start of the hook bend. Lift the excess butt ends of the hackle fibers up to vertical and snip them off close.
nThe body of the fly is formed using peacock herl. If you can, select one that has relatively small but uniform flues. Orient the herl so the slightly longer, more iridescent flues are pointing down and forward. Then snip about an inch of the brittle tip off square. Maintain the herl orientation as you lay it against the near side of the hook shank and take wraps of tying thread forward to secure it. Go all the way up to about an eye-length space behind the hook eye. Lift the excess herl up to vertical and snip it off close. Begin making touching wraps with the herl up the hook shank to build a fluffy, shimmery little body. Ideally, the flues of the herl should curve slightly rearward as you see here. This isn’t absolutely essential but does create a more uniform body on the fly. When you reach your tying thread, take 2 or 3 wraps to secure the herl to the hook. Once you have it locked down really well, break or snip the excess off close.
nOn the same hackle neck as before, locate the area with the very smallest of feathers. Measuring these accurately for size is difficult and I’ve found that, believe it or not, eyeballing it is often the best bet. While trying to keep the shiny side of the feather facing you preen some of the lower fibers down perpendicular to the stem. Place the intersection of the fibers at the location of your tying thread and take a wrap or two to secure it. Keep taking wraps of tying thread forward to make sure there’s no way the feather will pull free. Then, lift the butt end of the feather up and back to snip it off close. If there are any stray fibers, make sure to snip them out now. With flies this small, even a mildly blocked hook eye can render them unusable.
nGet hold of the feather with hackle pliers and start making touching wraps forward. If you’ve maintained the correct feather orientation, the shiny side should face forward and cause the fibers to cant slightly rearward as opposed to forward over the hook eye. This is important as it prevents hackle fibers from being trapped as you take thread wraps to secure the tip. Once you’ve got it locked down really well, reach in with your scissors and snip the excess tip off as close as possible. You can then pick up your whip finish tool and do a 3 or 4 turn whip finish and seat the knot firmly. Finally, snip or cut your tying thread free.
nWhen you get yourself adjusted to tying this small, you’ll be able to crank out Peg’s Midges in no time. There’s a whole lot of tasty goodness in one very little package and, as a bonus, the white or cream colored hackle really does help a bit with visibility.
nSo, the next time trout are looking up and appear to be taking something near or on the water’s surface, break out the 6 or 7x and tie on a Peg’s Midge. No, it’s not quite as enjoyable as fishing the Hendrickson hatch with a size 14, but if you’ve gotta scratch that dry fly itch late in the year, it’s a great way to go.