The Griffith’s Gnat Emerger is another wonderful pattern from the good folks out at Blue Ribbon Flies in West Yellowstone, Montana. It may look more complex than a standard Griffith’s Gnat but I actually find it easier to tie. I really like how it can be skittered on the water’s surface to imitate a midge natural.
For a hook, a Dai-Riki #125 in a size 20 is a good choice. Start by mashing the barb and getting the hook firmly secured in your tying vise.
Here, I’ve loaded a bobbin with UTC 70 Denier in a light olive. Black, grey and dark brown also work well. Start your thread on the hook shank leaving some space behind the eye and take a few wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag.
The original recipe recommends Zelon for the trailing shuck, but I’m going to go with golden brown Antron yarn. Four inches will make numerous flies, and even this should be split in two lengthwise. Snip one end of one of the two pieces of Antron off square. Give your bobbin a quick counterclockwise spin to uncord and flatten the thread. You can then place the very butt ends of the Antron on top of the hook shank and your thread should jump ever so slightly rearward to catch them. Continue taking touching thread wraps rearward to bind down the Antron. You want to go just a little ways down into the hook bend. Then take touching wraps forward to create a nice, even body on the fly. End with your tying thread about 2 eye lengths behind the hook eye. Snip the trailing shuck off so it’s approximately a hook gap in length. Plunger style hackle pliers can be used to hold the excess Antron together as a clump so it won’t get lost on your tying bench.
To hackle the fly, midge-sized grizzly saddle hackle works great and a single feather will produce a multitude of flies. Ideally, the hackle should be slightly undersized for the hook you’re using. At the butt end of the feather, strip away fibers to leave 1/8” of bare stem. Lay the stem against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to bind it down.
One or two peacock herls are used to create the thorax of the fly. Before tie-in, snip or break off the herl’s brittle tip. Lay this end against the near side of the hook and take thread wraps to secure it. You can then begin making touching wraps forward with the herl to build up the thorax. Secure the herl with wraps of tying thread behind the hook eye. Then break or snip the excess herl off close.
Get hold of the grizzly hackle and take 2-3 wraps forward before securing the stem behind the hook eye. Then snip the excess hackle off close.
Preen the hackle fibers rearward into a slightly sweptback orientation, this will help when it comes to skittering the fly. Pick up your whip finish tool and do a 3-4 turn whip finish to hold the fibers back and build up a small head. With the knot is well seated, snip or cut your tying thread free.
Once you get rolling, you can really crank these little guys out at a rapid rate. Every midge box should have at least a few of them.