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All about Midges, with Rick Hafele

Description: I get a lot of questions about midges and their life cycle, so I thought I would invite a professional entomologist to give us an overview of these insects and how to imitate them. Rick Hafele [3816] has not only been an entomologist all his working life, he's also a superb angler and fly-fishing author and perhaps one of the best authorities on aquatic entomology we have. Learn about what color midges to imitate, which part of their life cycle is most important to trout, and how to effectively fish these imitations.
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Podcast Transcript:

Tom: Hi, and welcome to the Orvis Fly fishing pod guest. This is your host, Tom Rosenbauer, and my guest this week is Rick Hafele . Rick is is an angler entomologist. And by that I mean he's a real professional entomologist. Rick actually worked as an entomologist for his for his career, and he's also a great angler and a writer. And I get a lot of requests for more information on midges, and since we're going into the the winter season at the time I'm recording this pod cast, and midges are probably the most important, or one of the most important food sources for trout during the winter. I thought that we could all benefit from an education on the midlife cycle and how to imitate them and how to fish them. So I think you'll enjoy this. I know I've learned a lot from from talking to Rick in this pod cast, and I'm sure you're gonna look at Midges and Midge fishing in entirely different ways after after listening to this. But first, the flybox.
The flybox is where you ask questions, and I try to answer And if you have a question for the flybox, you can send it to me at podcast at orvis dot com. You can either just type your question your email, or you can attach a voice file and maybe I'll read it on the air. So let's start this week with an email from Peggy from Oberlin, Ohio. Hi Tom. I'm a 60 year old Ohio mom who started fly fishing this year for the first time. My son moved out to Montana for college, where he's studying fish conservation, and he works summers on the Gallatin River teaching fly fishing. Thought the best way to keep our relationship strong with him 2000 miles away, was for me to enter his world, which is fish 24-7. He set me up with his old basic rod and reel, filled a fly box for me, and I used his old waiters. I've caught some nice cut throats, rainbows and browns under his tutelage. My problem and question is about the boots, basically, how can I move safely up and down the river without losing my balance and falling? I'm in pretty decent shape, competitive equestrian, so I have great balance. I have nubby I have rubber nubby boots, and I've used felt boots in Ohio, where it's legal, neither boot prevents me from slipping and sometimes falling. I did a beautiful face plant in on the Madison. Can you recommend a boot that will keep me moving safely in my new favorite hobby? Thanks. Well, peggy, there's a couple things to things to unpack here. One is, if you have good balance, you shouldn't be having trouble awaiting slippery rocks with with felts all waiting boots. Now, I can understand just nubby rubber, plain rubber waiting boots, because on slippery rocks, they are not as good as felt. You really need to put some metal studs into those rubber boots, because, you know, the rubber these days is much better than the rubber used to be used in felt souls. And it's great for walking up and down muddy banks, and it's great for walking a trail, and it's great on snow and ice. But slippery rocks, not so much. So, you know, personally, I use felt where it's legal when they are slippery rocks. And I use rubber, but with studs on When I'm when I'm hiking a long way, the only time I don't have studs of my rubber boots is if I'm fishing from a rafter, a drift boat. So I-I think there's, I think there's some other things to think about here. One is, so first of all, you need to stud those those rubber boots if you're gonna use those. And the Madison is a really tricky river. I've taken, I've taken a few falls in the Madison myself over the years, so it's not an easy river to wade. There's a lot of round rocks and and they're, they can be quite slippery at at various times year, especially later in the season, when algae builds up. So don't feel bad about falling in the Madison. Everybody does it. But there's a couple things to think about. So first, stud your rubber boots if you're gonna use them there. The other thing is, make sure those boots fit. You know, they shouldn't be, they shouldn't be super tight, but they also shouldn't be super loose. They should, they should feel comfortable. And sometimes sometimes you have to go a size up or down to to get the right size up or down. From your street, you to get the right fit, usually a size up because you've off, you often have, you got a neoprene booty in there, and you also have usually A-A thick wool sock inside there. And sometimes waiting boots just don't fit quite like they're supposed to. I mean, you're general, they're generally supposed to be sized with the idea that there's gonna be a heavy sock and a neoprene booty inside there. But, but sometimes I know myself, I I'd have to go to two shoe sizes up from my normal street shoe size to get a to get a good fit in waiting boots. The other thing is, I think you really need to invest in a waiting staff. You have good balance, but still a waiting staff is gonna make all the difference in the world for you. It's it's that third leg. It's that it forms that tripod, and you can lean on it, and you can use it to feel around among the rocks. And waiting staff is really gonna help you with your balance and and with waiting. And the other thing is, the other thing is, it's a couple of things to think about. One is that the best thing to do with your when you're waiting is to use your toe to kind of inch forward and find a good grip, and then put your weight down so that you kind of feel forward with your toe. And you want to be shuffling a little bit. You don't want to be making wide strides. The other thing is, you gotta be very careful that you don't cross your feet. You don't, you don't put, you don't put your feet over the center line of your body, because that can really throw you off balance. So, you know, feeling your way along, using that toe to feel your way around, and then and then put your foot down, using a waiting staff. And and just moving slowly, you may have to move slower than, you than you're used to moving in the outdoors, because particularly in a river like the Madison, you really have to be careful. So I don't think it's, I don't think it's your boots. I have a feeling it's probably what's on the bottom of your boots. And also, I think waiting staff is well advised. Alright, let's do another email. This one's from war On, from Tucson. I recently had the luck of experiencing a magnificent hatch at dusk on a river I was fishing. While I'm not sure the species, there must have been hundreds of thousands of flies up and down this section of river. I saw fish rising in some shallow water, around a foot deep, and didn't didn't hesitate to switch to my parachute atoms. I was able to land one of these risers, which turned out to be a five to six inch large mouth bass. Never thought I would manage to catch a bass on a dry fly. Determined to catch some larger fish, I decided to focus on a deeper channel on the far bank, which appeared to be about four to 5 ft. Deep. So I drifted my fly through this run. I didn't see any rising fish in this deeper water, however, and after a dozen drifts with no luck, I decided to switch back to my woolly bugger and landed some more bass on off the bottom. This may be wonder Is there a threshold in terms of water depth on a river and current speed, where fishing a dry fly becomes futile despite a big hatch going on. Hope this gives you an up context. Thanks for everything you do for the fly fishing community. So Warren, first of all, it it sounds like you might have been trying to fish for trout in in this area. I I'm not sure if you were, you were just talking about bass, or you're talking about trout. If you, if you are catching large mouth bass, and particularly if you're catching large mouth bass in the faster water in a river, then probably it's not gonna be a good place for trout, because large mouth bass prefer a lot warmer water, and actually generally slower water than trout do. So if you were looking for trout, I would go somewhere else. I would, I would move upstream until you find some cooler water, quite a bit cooler water, or or try a different river, because I, you know, if I'm catching large mouth pass in a stream, I'm, I'm not gonna be looking for trout. There's that. And then as far as water depth in current speed, where fishing a dry fly becomes futile, yeah, there is. Actually, there isn't. There isn't really A-A minimum depth, other than, you know, enough enough water to to cover the top of a trout. Trout will trout prefer to feed in about two to 4 ft. Of water, and water that's moving between one and 2 ft/s. And that's particularly important when fishing on the surface. So yeah, I wouldn't expect, I wouldn't expect to during a big hatch, to find trout in that heavier, deeper, faster water. And and trout, even though even trout that might live in that heavier, deeper, faster water, if there's a big hatch on, they're gonna move into slower, shallower water, where it's easier for them to feed on on the surface. So they might be in there at certain times, but probably they're gonna they're gonna slide shallower and slower when there's a really heavy hatch like that. So hope that hope that answers your question. Hey Tom, it's Mexican from some real mass. I have a quick question about fighting striped bass on fly rod. I've been fishing closer to home lately, and there's A-A nice spot that's an inlet about 15 min from my house, So I've been going there pretty consistently and learning a lot about, you know, salt water fishing in that environment. But, you know, I got, I was fishing on a full moon tide, and there was a big current coming down the low tide, and I hooked a pretty big striper on the first one I've ever had on my end of my line. but I lost it, unfortunately, as I was bringing it in. And that brings me to my question. When you have a big fish that's kind of just thrashing, shaking its head, not really running though, you know, how do you get the fish in on the reel? Cause I was trying to just strip it in, but it was too heavy for me to hold it, and kept thrashing and wanting to take a little bit of line, but I had enough line in my basket where I couldn't just let it, like take all my line, it would have gone slack. So I was keeping tight and trying to strip it in. And at one point it was taking a little bit of line, and then I think it shook its head and got off a hook. Also officially barbarous. So maybe I just got unlucky there. But if you have any tips for, like, do you just like, try and keep types of fish and re all the line from your basket in and then fight it on the reel? Or you kind of just let it run a bit more, and then, you know, reel in line and then get on the reel? Or do you just try and strip these fish in? I mean, I guess I was having a hard time holding the line. I was slipping through my hands. So yeah, any advice would be really helpful, since I know you're really experienced in that area. So Max, it's almost never a good idea to tighten up on a fish and reel in your slack. When when the fish is hooked, especially a big fish, I-I my advice would be to keep tight, keep the line tight, and and just strip the line through your hands. And you can actually, you know, you can actually, if you keep that, if you keep that line in your hand, you can, you can actually tighten down on it a little bit with with your hand, if you want to add a little drag to the fish running. but if the fish doesn't take that line that's in your basket or at your feet, when you stop to what happens is, when you stop and kind of hold the fish and reel in all that slack, what happens is you're bouncing the rod tip up and down. And that can that can shake the hook loose, shake a barbles hook loose. And it can also while you're while you're paying attention to putting a line on your reel, that fish could, all of a sudden make a run. And if you're not paying attention, you might get that line wrapped around the the reel or your hand, or something like that. So it's almost never a good idea. If you if you can say, if you can play a fish by hand without using the reel, you're better off doing that. Now, the only time I will stop in reel and slack line is if I'm stripping in a fish, and it's maybe a medium sized fish or a large fish, I'm stripping it in, and let's say I have all kinds of slack line piled around my my feet, because I've been stripping in all that slack line to to play the fish. You know, sometimes what can happen is the fish can get tangled in that line at your feet. So if I, if I run into that situation, I will take chance and stop and reel that line, put that line on my real just just so things don't get tangled if a fish decides to make another quick run. But in general, if a fish, the fish is gonna tell you when to put the line on the reel, because the fish is going to put the line on the reel. Is an email from Brian Most of my fly fishing is limited to trout streams here in Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania. Primarily a fish nymphs. But I want to develop my streamer and wet flight techniques. I'm curious about the use of polyliers for trout, particularly with streamers and wet flies. If I'm fishing for trout with a five way forward floating line, when would I consider using a poli leader for streamer fishing? What type of poli leader would you suggest? Intermediate or sinking? What about for swinging wet fly? Should I consider a polyleader to get a wet fly? Down a bit deeper. Finally, with respect to rigging, how much tippet do you typically attach to the end of a polylider to the fly? All right, brian, so you know it, it's really gonna depend the type of poly leader that you use for either streamer fishing or what fly fishing is really gonna depend on how fast and deep the water is. If you're, you know, fishing a streamer in water that's couple feet deep, but you wanna retrieve that fly, you know, closer to the bottom, or more in the middle of the water column, than an intermediate way might work out. But generally, I find I can get by with a floating line in a situation like that. But I do carry, I do carry two poly leaders. I carry the the sinking and the extra fast sinking, because again, you don't know ahead of time. You don't know what depth and what current speed you're gonna be encountering. So there's no, there's no right or wrong answer for that. It It really, it really depends. And I-I would just carry both of them and and try the fast sinking first, and if that doesn't work, try the extra fast sinking. Personally, I-I don't use an intermediate polyleer that much. However, if you are swinging a wet fly, and it's, it's riding too close to the surface, you know, the maybe the currents pretty fast, and you're trying to swing that wet fly, and it's, it's, it's riding up toward the surface and skimming across the top. Then an intermediate line for swinging a wet fly might be a good idea. But again, if you're, if you're swinging a wet fly in really deep or really fast water, then you may wanna go to the fast sinking or the extra fast sinking Poli Leader. So I'd carry all of them. They're not that expensive. And I think you're gonna find a use for for each type, depending on the water type you encounter when you decide to switch over to the polylider. Now, as far as as far as tippet is concerned, what most people do is just use between three and five or even 6 ft. Of of just level tippet. You don't need a tapered liter on the end of there. You can just attach it, put a loop in your tippet, and attach it to the end of your poli leader, and and then just go from there. So you don't need, you don't need a full litter, just anywhere from three to three to 6 ft. I generally go about 4 ft. For my for my tippet, from a polyliter. Hope that helps. Here's an email from Bob. We first met back in the mid eighties and Manchester Center at my first Orvis fly fishing school. I am 80 years old now, and I have fond memories of the nearby baton kill. Well, hello, bob. Good to good to touch base with you again. Today. I try to fool fish in the Shenandoes, the blue ridge and the smokeys. Since I live in central North Carolina, all these places require at least a few hours drive. Since age and post cancer have zapped a lot of my strength and mobility, I now must plan my trips like a military campaign. How far, what access can I manage? And most of all, what is the current like? And can I wait it? Roaring rivers never stop me in my youth. But now I need to drill deep into what kind of water I will be in, and what cfs is there today? 300 CFS seems to be by limit, but will still tempt faster water. Pursuing that big brown trout I know lives there. My question is, what cfs do you limit yourself to, or consider safe? Thanks to you and orders for the resource. It has been special to see the growth of you both through the years. Also, I miss staying at the Equinox, sipping brandy on the porch after day of fishing. Well, bob, there's a there's something you need to understand about cfs. CFS is is the the number of cubic feet per second that is passing a particular point on a river. And the problem is that you can't tell how fast a river is going to be running just by the cfs itself, because 300 cfs in a in a great, big, wide river is gonna be a very slow current. 300 cfs in a river that's 30 or 40 ft. Wide, is gonna be a raging torrent. So you have to know the river. You have to know the river because you need to know the size of the river channel. And so CFS by itself is not gonna give you that much indication of velocity unless you know the particular river. So you're gonna have, you're gonna have to go to to to the rivers that you fish, and either and either check in with with a flyshop or a guide in the area, or you're gonna have to go to a river and say, okay, it's running at 400 cfs. That's a little bit fast for me. I think I need to be down more at at 200 or 300 cfs. But you gotta know the river, and you gotta know what that particular cfs on that particular river looks like, because it it, you know it. It really depends on the size of the river channel and and the width of the river channel, and and not just the the volume of water passing any given point. Air is an email from Leam. The first question I have is about finding wild fish in native fish territory. To give more context, I have been lucky enough to travel north into Michigan several times this year, and have fished a couple of small creeks full of native brook trough These creeks are full of waterfalls and other natural barriers that help isolate these fish from the wild trout in the main rivers. My question is, if I catch a wild trout, rainbow or brown in the headwaters of these creeks, what is the most ethical thing to do? Do I release it exactly where I caught it? Do I release it downstream below the waterfall? What would you do in that situation? My next question is about an unrelated topic. What is the purpose of hatcheries releasing large brood stock trout in the river system? Is it just for angler enjoyment so they can catch trophy fish? And do these large, aggressive fish pose any danger to the environment and the rest of the trout population? So regarding your first question, leam, I think that I think that that taking a wild rainbow or brown and and walking it down to a waterfall and releasing it there is for it may not, may not do any good, because at higher water levels, fish may be able to jump that waterfall. And, you know, fish trout can jump about seven times their body length, so they can jump a vertical, vertical They can make a vertical jump about seven times their body length. So they can get over some obstructions that you would, you would not believe they could get over. So that fish may get back upstream anyway. It's really a question of, you know, how how abundant are those are those browns and rainbows in the wild brook trout stream? If if they're not many of those wild browns and rainbows, and it's mostly brick trout, and you catch the occasional brown Well, if you wanna get rid of them, you may, if it's legal, you may want to keep them for dinner to get them out of there. Or if the river is already already has a lot of browns and rainbows in it, mixed in with the brook trout, then just just removing one isn't gonna isn't gonna make that much difference. So it's really, really a judgment call on that. But you know, I if you move that fish, you're probably gonna have to keep it out of the water longer. You're gonna have to handle it more. And so it depends on if you want to risk risk releasing that fish and have it die, or just leave it in place and and hope the brook trout can can compete against them. Regarding your second question Releasing large brooks brewed stock in the river system is really just for people to catch them and take them home, or catch them and release them. Those those large fish are sometimes fun to catch, but it it's really in unnatural situation. A lot of people don't care that much for it. I there's some streams in Vermont where they release large brood stock fish, and much personally try to avoid them. And yeah, they can. They can pose a danger to the to A-A wild trout population. It's not a good idea to put those large brood stock fish in in a wild trap, wild trout population. The wild trout are generally going to be smaller, and the large broodstock fish will sometimes eat them. And also, those large broodstock fish really don't know what they're doing in they kind of, they kind of bumble around and and push trout out of their established lies, or their their established territories. And they can really raise hell with the wild drop out trout population. I know that some biologists that have have observed streams that were stocked the had wild trout, and and were stocked with hatchery fish, the hatchery fish would push the brown trout, or the wild brown trout around, to the point where the the wild trout would get exhausted just defending their territory. So not a good thing. It's done, you know, in in my opinion, and in a lot of other people's opinion, those large brood stock fish should be put into rivers that just can't support wild trout, or maybe even get too warm during the summertime. And they so they hope that people catch those fish out of there before the water gets too warm. Not a good idea to put him in a nice, healthy, wild trout stream. Here's an email from I didn't get the name. Living in South Jersey provides copious opportunities for saltwater, fly fishing. Our closest trout stream is an hour north, but is a real challenge. Not a typical straightforward or class extreme. The sand pine and cedar of the Pine barons create the tannin stained water of tom's River. And he included a photo. The bottom is muck and or sand and gravel, with few rifles. It's mostly small pools and undercuts with the prevalence, prevalence of snags tight to the bank, submerged and overhead. I use a short rod with through eight line, five x liter, with NYMPH streamers, etc. How would you suggest I fish this atypical water? Just know that fish. So, yeah, based on, based on the picture that I saw, of course, I-I do some observing. First of all, see what kind of bug life is in there. I look for rising fish, and I kind of read the water, stand on the bank and read the water. But, you know, in a in a river like that, where you don't have a lot of structure on the bottom, if it's mainly muck or sand and gravel, there isn't a lot of structure on the bottom. So the fish are going to be in in fewer places. They're not gonna probably not gonna be out in the middle of the river that much. They're gonna be tight to that cover. They're gonna be any place that provides a little protection from the current. So that's gonna be either either near near the banks, particularly if the banks have a lot of, a lot of logs and and things like that, or they're gonna be in the deeper slots, you know, where the waters just looks a little bit darker, the fish maybe in those, in those deeper slots. And so I wouldn't, I wouldn't recommend, I wouldn't really recommend any particular method of fishing in that water. I would, I would fish it the same as I would fish any other, any other river. But it's, it's a matter of where you fish it. And it sounds like, you know, nim fishing could be is can be pretty tough in that kind of water, where it's mostly slow and you have to get really tight to structure. So I would generally think a dry dropper fish close to cover, or or a streamer, or a swung wet fly would probably how I probably be, how I would start out in water like that, anyways, and then I'd go from there. I'd see, I'd see what what interest the fish, and if it doesn't, then I'd try something else. But, yeah, I we it's tough. It's tough to know just from just from looking at a picture, but that's what I would try first. And here's an e mail from Ken from Buffalo, new York. Question one you always say you have no favorite fly, but the one that is working at the time, and that you change flies often. So my question is this If you're fishing a favorite run and are not being successful, when do you change flies? Do you fish the entire run and move back, fish it again with a different fly, maybe several times? Or do you change flies and keep moving either up or downstream? I guess another way to ask this is, how long do you stay in one section? Number two. The other day, I was watching a youtube video, and the host suggested that you match the butt section of your liter diameter to diameter of the flyline you're using for the fly line you're using for a better transfer of energy. Any thoughts on this? Thanks for all your help. Is a reenter the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful world of fly fishing. Well, ken, that's the your first question is really tough to answer, because first of all, I don't change flies that often. I'm not a big fly changer. I generally start with a fly, and I'll work a run. And if I feel like I'm working it carefully enough, if I'm fishing a dry dropper, if I don't get any, you know, rises to my dry fly and my nymph is ticking bottom, once in a while, I will, generally, I will generally fish through it. And I won't go back and fish that same run, at least not not right away, because I've already kind of disturbed the run. And I-I think that that moving back into a run with another fly often you you've already have spooked the fish, and so you really don't know if that other fly is gonna work that well at all. So I generally will move. Once I once I work over, once I work over a stretch of water, and I'm not successful, then I'll generally move. And I will often, I will often keep the same fly pattern on, because I have confidence in it. Now, if I know there's fish in a particular run and I don't think they're spooked, maybe the river's wide enough or fast enough that I can that I can fish it and not spook all the fish, then I might change flies. But honestly, I I'm more likely to, I'm more likely to move and try another section a river before I before I change flies. So how long you stay in one section? Really? It's really gonna vary. Really gonna vary, based on how dense the trout population is. Do you think there are you sure there trout there? Is the water temperature optimal? You know, if the water temperatures 38 degrees, then then, you know, I'm not gonna make any judgment calls based on the fly pattern I use, because the water's so cold that the fish may not be feeding that much at all, and I may have to get it right in their face, and I might not have gotten it right in their face. So if the water temperature is between 50 and 65 degrees and I'll catch anything, then I'll move. I'll move in a hurry, because I know that the the fish are feeding somewhere. Regarding your second question, it's not so much the diameter of the butt section of your leader as it is the stiffness. So so what you need to do is you need to need to bend your fly line over and see how stiff that is, and then bend the butt section of your leader over. And various types of liter material vary in stiffness, but you wanna try to match the the stiffness or the deflection amount of of your of your the butt section of your leader, to your fly line it? It's honestly not that critical. And I don't, I don't pay any attention to that. You might try it and see. But generally, I-I trust the the leader bought sections on the, I use, you know, the orvis not as tapered leaders most of the time. And I-I just trust that it's gonna be about the right diameter. And I-I don't, I think it's something that you don't need to worry about that much, but you certainly should not be matching the diameter of the fly line to the diameter of the butt section of your leader, because there's a great difference in stiffness. If you match the butt section of your leader diameter to the diameter of your fly line, you're gonna end up with A-A liter. But that's way too stiff for what you're doing. And finally, here's a voice made. Here's a voice file from Merrick from South Dakota. Now, this is, this is a longer voice file than I generally like to use on the pod cast, but this is a really good one, and Merrick gives some really good information on on on on finding fish with a fly rod in in South Dakota. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna play this longer than usual voice file, because I think it's got some really great information in it. Hey, Tom Merrick here. Long time listener, first time caller, as they say, love the podcast. Was inspired to reach out for the first time. In response to the most recent fly box, devon was looking for advice. As a beginner flyfisher living in eastern South Dakota, with limited access to trout fishing opportunities, your advice was all great, but as an Eastern South Dakota native, I figured I could share some additional, more specific knowledge that I've picked up over the years. Your suggestion to target local species is excellent. I started targeting local species with my flyrod because, like Dave and I didn't have access to trout, as you mentioned, carp bass and sunfish like blue gill, are readily available. I did also want to mention perhaps her most popular targeted species, a wall I-I haven't seen much info on wall I outside of conventional angling, but I've had a lot of fun chasing them with my fly tackle. Also available are other panfish, like croppy and perch, as well as pike, catfish, gar and probably some others. I'm forgetting your suggestion of a sunfish or bass pond may be the easiest way to just get out there and fish, but depending on where Devon lives, he may have easy access to some great lakes and slews with thriving populations of a variety of species. These fishing spots are often more exposed, deeper and required longer cast than you might see at a local city pond. The reason I bring this up is, in my opinion, the typically recommended nine foot five with fly fishing outfit is limiting for much of Eastern South Dakota fishing. And I foot five weight is a great all around trout rod. And thus is the most common suggestion for beginners. Because fly fishing is so trout centric. However, I'm usually fishing lakes and slews with some sort of streamer that I wanna cast far and get deep like a woolly bugger. Either heavily weighted or with a sinking fly line, these patterns are almost always too heavy and air resistant for irresistant for my nine foot fiveweight outfit to deliver where I want, especially when trying to cast in the wind. The wind here is persistent, irritating at its best and brutal at its worst. I tried to power through it for a while with my fiveweight when I started out, and had to make significant sacrifices to fish with it. Shorter cast, lighter, smaller flies. And I fish less than I'd like to to stay out of the wind point. Being if Devon or others like him haven't bought a rod in line yet, I highly recommend they start out with a heavierweight option. That way they can still easily fish with more sheltered city ponds, but they give themselves the option to fish or other great waters in the adverse conditions we often find out there. Once I figured this out, I bought a six weight rod, six weight scientific Anglers, bass bug floating fly line and a six weight orvis clear water type sinking line for deeper water. This setup still struggles in the wind at times, and with some of my particularly heavy flies. So I've been looking at even heavier options. I can eight weight, but the six weight is certainly an improvement from the five weight. You could probably have more success than I do than I did with a nine foot fiveweight with better casting technique. And if you switched out the standard trout fishing fly line for a five weight line designed to cast these heavier, irresistant flies, but I think the proper line on a heavier rod is an even better option and will save a lot of time and frustration. This leads me to a question I have for you Tom, do you have a recommendation for a line, weight and type of line or tapers suited for my situation? I like the look of the bank shot line you've recommended before, but I also use full floating and sinking lines, so I'll take any suggestions you have regarding fly lines. I'm asking because my six way Scientific angler's bass bug line is specified as overweighted with an aggressive front taper that I expected to work very well, and was surprised to find it still struggles in the wind. Another line type of encounter is gadget lines, which seems to be extreme versions of wait forward sink tip lines. Perhaps a six wait schedule line could be a good solution that would allow me to avoid buying yet another rod. Or is my suspicion correct that I probably just need to suck it up and get a heavier lion rod? That's all I got. Thanks for all you do. Tom, keep up the great work. America's As far as your your question is concerned. I agree a bigger fly ride would be better, you know, a six or seven, or even an eight. And for that situation, I would recommend a depth charge line. I think the depth charge line is what I use when I need to get a fly down in salt water, and and can and continue to retrieve it at at a, at A-A depth. And, you know, I-I use it. I use it in salt water. And it's very, it's often very windy there. So I would, I would try a depth charge line. I do use them in fresh water. Sometimes. I use them for streamer fishing, for trout in really fast deep rivers. So I would try that line. I think that line will work out pretty well for you. All right, that is the flybox for this week. Let's go talk to Rick Hafele about all about midges.
Tom: My guest today is Rick Hayley. Rick has actually been writing in the fly fishing world longer than me, which is unusual. I see your first book, the one you did with Dave Hughes, which is still one of my my go to books, the complete Book of Western Hatches, was in 1981. My first book was 84. So you've been, you've been around even longer than me, and you have, you have, I don't know how many books in print, rick, I think six. Six, yeah, six books in trade. A lot of lot of and and the cool thing about Rick is Rick is not only A-A-A lifelong experience angler, but Rick is a professional entomologist. And, you know, we have lots of amateur entomologists out there. Rick, what? What? How did what was your work as an entomologist? Where did where did you? Where did you work? Yeah, well, I-I got a degree in aquatic entomology at Oregon State University, and right after that, I-I ended up working quite a bit in Alaska, doing stream assessments for mining permits, actually looking at water quality issues related to mining, and looking at the aquatic insects as indicators. And and after that, I then got a job with the organ Department of Environmental Quality, which is where I worked for 90 % of my my professional career was with the State of Oregon, the the Q, and again, the the work was focused on using aquatic inverts as there's, you know, water quality problems. And, yeah, the aquatic insects are a very useful tool in those kinds of assessments for a number of reasons. Yeah. So that, that's was my focus. Professionally. Spent a lot of times in rivers all around Oregon, working and then around the West fishing. And I was always had a net in my hand, looking at looking at bugs, basically. Haha. So I got the right person here, cause, because I've had, I've had a number of questions about about the midlife cycle. You know, we, we, most of us, most of us know a fair amount about the may fly life cycles. Don't fly, and cat is fly. We've studied those. But midges are are a little bit more, I think, of a mystery to people. So I thought maybe we could explore the life cycle of of midges, because they're so important in many streams, and then and then in their importance, And then talk about some fishing techniques. How does that sound? That's that's perfect. Yeah. All right. So let's so tell us about the life cycle first. Yeah, let's dive into that. Well, into that I and it's related to life cycles, is we we can't ignore the diversity of of midges and and it's interesting, because some people call midges midges. Other people call them corona mids. It have this it's the same critter. They're all in the family chirenomity. So whether you're saying midges or cronmits, we're really talking about the same thing. And and the diversity of that group is kind of off the charts. It's, it's by far the most diverse aquatic insect group out there. And and the reason that's important with when you're talking life cycles is that there's such a variety of species that saying, just a general life cycle, here it is isn't gonna be right, probably 60 % of the time. So there's a wide range of possibilities because of such diversity. In fact, I was just reading a little this morning, trying to get up on the latest they They estimate there's over 20000 species of images worldwide. Wow, most of which are unidentified yet. So, yeah, so it it's, it's a really interesting group. From the ecological standpoint, but specifically on on the life cycle, it's the The simplest way to describe it is that it's a complete metamorphosis. So they have the egg stage, the larval stage, the pupil stage, and then the adult stage. And so those those four stages, they're all gonna have that no matter what species we're talking about. Okay? And that's similar to what a catasly would have, which, you know, a love a people at all the the The interesting thing with with midges is these life cycles can be the incomplete life cycle can be quite short. So they can go through a generation in a matter of weeks. Really? Yeah. So, you know, when you're talking about cattis or stone flies, you know, it's often a year, some stone flies, three or four years, probably the majority of hatches that anglers are familiar with. The entire life cycle is about a year. But with midges and chronics, you're gonna have maybe couple of weeks as a larva. It can go through, if, if it's in the summer, when the conditions are warm and favorable, that larvae can finish its growth in in a matter of a few weeks, and then the pupa stage, maybe just a few days it hatches, adults may lay their eggs, those eggs hatch pretty quickly, and you're off into another generation, and it might be a six week time period, wow, during during the winter. So then that species would go through multiple generations in in the course of a year, and then in in the winter, the life cycle, and I'm sorry I lost you there. I lost you there after you said the life cycle. And then the the flipped out the the life cycle in the winter time will take longer. So, you know, if they lay eggs in, say, october, november, then those larva will take much longer to develop. And people stay to last longer. Maybe they don't hatch until February, you know, or March. But in in the pupil, the behavior of pupils pretty interesting. And and of course, people are familiar with the law called blood worms. And not all species are gonna fall into that category. The ones that do are called blood worms because they actually have hemoglobin, which turns them red. It's the oxygen carrying chemical that we have in our blood that makes our blood red. Most insects do not use hemoglobin. They have a different process for oxygen uptake. But those few species, acronaments, have it, and they're gonna be red. And those larva are really an important food source. Whether they're the blood worms or the other larva, they're really important food source for trout, both in lakes and streams. So because we have such a diversity of species, and they're always going through this process of their life cycle, there's a lot of them drifting in a stream. There's a lot of koran Is drifting in the water column. Whether they're in the larval stage or the pupa stage, probably just about every day, there's some larva in there. Water. How, you know, the they the the larvae live in in a kind of silt, right? They usually live in the in the deposits on the bottom. Not necessarily true. Okay? They live everywhere. Aha. They live in every kind of habitat you can think of. When you pick up a rock in a fast rifle and you see what looks like little, kind of skinny, little lines on the rock, it's like little lines, and you don't really see anything on it. And and you go, and it just looks like a little line of silk. That's a cronomy larva in a in a little silk, in a little silken cover. So the cronomies are on the rocks. They're in the silk as well. For sure. They're in silk. They'll be in the pools where it's quiet water. They'll be in the sun edges, where it's real quiet and a lot of aquatic plants. And they'll be out there in the rifles, in the fastest water there is, on on boulders and rocks. Okay, so they're, they're literally everywhere, yeah? And they don't swim, right? The the larvae don't swim. They're, they're pretty pretty help helpless. When they when they break loose, or when they get knocked off a rock or something, they are, yes, they're not, they're not gonna swim at all, so they're just drifting, like, you say, helplessly in the current. And and they have a pretty good, you know, silk cover, some sort of little silken all that they live in, so they're fairly safe in the larable stage. But they do drift. You know, one of the things entomologists do, quatic entomologists, I've done, do drift studies, where you put a net out that's just stationary in the water for several hours and see what's drifting. And and chronic is always show up as one of the most abundant creatures in the drift. Okay, so so they're prevalent and and readily available to trout. Okay? And and so the lava down there feeding, they feed. Again, you've got such a diversity of species. There are predaceous kronaments, not not very many, but they exist. Most are feeding on the paraffite and algae, the little diatoms and algae that grow on the surface of rocks or on the surface of plants. And so they're down there munching away. And then when they become a pupa, the puba is also going to develop inside a little silk and cover in the substrate, or in a little silk case on the rocks. So there's sort of, when that pupils, rick, rick, I just lost what you said. So, so and then, and then it did, I don't know. I so when the pupil, then it's on the rocks, it's gotta get to the surface, just like a cat is. People, yeah, the adult to to emerge. And when that happens, they're really vulnerable. They they come swimming up to the surface quite slowly. We're cat as. People are good swimmers. Chronic people. Are not a lot of folks listening and have seen videos of prominent pupil wiggling in water, and they just have kind of a little wiggle to them, but they can't swim very well, so it takes them, takes them some effort and time to get to the surface. And and that means they're really vulnerable to to travel and things with the puba is when they first is probably more critical and important in lakes, but when they first leave the bottom in the lake, they're not always ready to charge up to the surface and and it might take several hours or or multiple hours for them to sort of just hang out near the bottom. And and then little gases start forming under their exoskeleton that helps move them up to the surface. And that's why, you know, you see them in the water, and they have that real, shiny, kind of translucent almost under the exoskeleton. And it's the the gases that are there that's already separating the exoskeleton of the pupa from the new exo skeleton of the adult. And it's that layer between those two exo skeletons is filled with gases and and so once they've got that gas filled area ready, then they come up to the surface. But they may be hanging out 6 " or a foot off the bottom for hours and hours until that's ready. So for a lake fisherman, you know, that's key and why so many people fish their people right near the bottom. It's a it's a great place, that trouter hanging out, feeding on it, in in in rivers, because you have current, they can't really just hang out for hours. They're gonna be swept away. So, you know, it's not as a long period, but they're still drifting for some distance to get up to the surface in the street, yeah? And, and when they, when they hit the surface, the the meniscus must provide, I mean, they're not very big, the the meniscus must provide a pretty hard barrier, doesn't it, for them to get through? Yeah, that's a, that's a good question. And that's a barrier for, you know, any of the insects trying to get up. And because niches are so small, it is a significant one. People will have, you know, small hairs and and little structures on on the top of their heads, or their their back, and those little hairs and and structures will pierce that surface tension, and and that's, that's kind of the key, key structure really, that helps them do that. And and so even something small, if you've got a little pointy object up there, you know, hairs, even it can be sufficient to sort of poke through that surface tension and help help that adult pop out. Okay, yeah. And then of course, the adults come off on the surface. And, hell again, you've got such a variety of species. Some are called buzzers, because they stay on the surface and kind of buzz around the surface and skate, you know, across the water. Others are gonna fly off fairly quickly, so it's kind of all over the map in terms of how that adult behaves on the surface of the water. And and they are gonna obviously get off and fly away, they don't get eaten by a trout or swallows or other birds, and they're out there feeding on them. I've seen hummingbirds eating midges, which is always fascinating. That's awesome. Yes, awesome. And, and I think that's one of the things that, well, people, I'm sure, think about it, but maybe not enough, is that the aquatic adult insects are really, really important food source for so many terrestrial animals, particularly birds. And when streams are suffering from whatever reason, and the inverts are depleted, it's it's affecting much more than just the trout and and the stream life. It's affecting terrestrial organisms. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And some bitches are pollinate as right? Yeah, right. And, you know, they don't eat much. They do have mouth parts, unlike they fly adults, which lose their mouth parts as adults, they just have their mouth parts. But they, they don't bite. If you're getting bit, like by a bug when you're out there fishing, it's not a midge that's biting you. None of them are blood suckers or anything, but they, they, they do take pollen off of flowers and maybe some nectar, so they'll end up on flowers and and can contribute to pollination that way. Yeah, I know that. I'm I'm a chocolate maker. And and studying the the biology of the Cacao planet, I've learned that that they're all, they're pollinated by midges. In in tropical regions, without midges, they don't, they don't get pollinated. So found that fair. That's fascinating. Yeah. Well, and, and remember, midges live in just pools of water out in the forest. They don't need a lake or stream there. In any kind of wet habitat, you'll have, you, you'll have midges. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So they, they're extremely common. Yeah, aren't they? Aren't they typically the last aquatic insect to to to die in polluted waters, aren't they? Aren't they kind of an indicator if you have, if you have a huge amount of midges, and nothing else, isn't that often an indicator of poor water quality? It it is. And and the challenge is really in in the taxonomy, because there are species that are pretty sensitive, and then there are species, species that are quite tolerant overall. Overall, though, as conditions degrade, you'll see the abundance of chronic is relative to other insects increase, because they're, they're more tolerant to a lot of the conditions out there than other insects would be. Yeah, yeah. So as a general guide, that's absolutely true. I've noticed that entail waters, often the very close to the dam, the only, the only quiet insect of any consequence, at least from what I see, are, are midges. And it takes, it takes a little bit of oxygen exchange blow the dam before you start seeing may flies and catasphalize. And I-I suspect that's because midges can tolerate a lower oxygen concentration, because sometimes the water that comes out of a dam is pretty low in oxygen. Is that? Is that correct? Yeah, yeah. You know, the bottom releases from large reservoirs can be pretty low in oxygen. So it does take a little bit of turbulence in the river to get that re oxygenated water. And images are obviously species out there that are tolerant of low, lower B-O, so they they would be the dominant. Okay, yeah, yeah. And and they have species that are adapted to just about any temperature range you can think of. So, you know, they're up in the Arctic cold streams you could find, and they're also found in thermal hot springs. So, so there are species out there that can tolerate just any temperature range, you know, you might find. Yeah. Now, once the adults hatch, how long, how long do they hang around before they come back in form mating flights or or mate? I don't know if they, I know sometimes they form mating flights, because I've seen them. But how, how long? How long do they hang around in a as a terrestrial insect? Well, again, it's gonna vary, but typically not long. And and I-I don't have good figures on most of them, but, you know, it's in the range of days, okay that they they're gonna live in mate and lay their eggs, and maybe, you know, a week. They'd be rare to be more than a couple of weeks for most of the species. There may be some and some habitats that live longer than that, but it's a short time as adults that they're gonna mate and lay their eggs. And some will be in swarms in the air, certainly we see that. And they may in those swarms. And then the females will land on the water to lay their eggs. They kind of skate across the water to lay their eggs. Others will crawl down grass stems and stuff along the bank and lay their eggs that way, but the majority of them are gonna be laying their eggs on the surface and and be available to trout. A lot of them will do that, did I? Yeah, so, and and again, with the range of variety of species, you're gonna see something. You know, generalizing about midges is always fraught with a little bit of trouble. You'll say something the next day that is a little different than the the normal. And then And then as far as as colors and and size range, I know, I know that, like in the UK, they have midges are as big as a size 14. And I've seen them that must have been like a size 64, right? Right? Right. Well, the size range is all over the map. In lakes, of course, they can get quite big. They could be, they can be, you know, half an inch, three quarter, It's long the size eight three x long hooks. Have some of them in lakes, at least out here in the West, there's some of those big crowns, and the vast majority, and in general, lakes are gonna have larger size edges than streams. Okay? Fishing sixteens and eighteens is really quite common in lakes, and 14, fourteens and twelves as well, very common. So in streams, I think that's the biggest challenge I've run into in stream fishing, is that they're so dark on small I mean, a 20 is a good size bitch, right? Yeah. Most of those stream yeah, situation, yeah. And it's can be really frustrating. And so, you know, using cluster Midge patterns or something, you know, try give you a little help that way. But I'd say in streams, why 18 is a pretty good sized village is usually smaller, usually smaller. Do you want to explain, like, I'm sorry, do you want to explain cluster midges and what that is, and how people can take advantage of that? Well, you know what happens sometimes during a good size urgencies, there will be lots of adults kind of on the surface, and they'll form little cluster, and and that little cluster won't be very big, but it's still good size compared to any of the individuals. And so you can tie a pattern. Boy. I don't have a specific name on my head other than cluster Mitch, but, well, griffith, griffith Snad, I think, was developed as a cluster Mitch. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it gives the impression of a group of images, rather than just one and and the fish like to feed on that, because they're gonna get a gulp of, you know, 15 or 20 midges instead of one midge, or ten midges instead of one page. Yeah. And so pattern, pattern that sort of represents that characteristic is an advantage to us. So we don't have to have such a tiny fly and and and the fish are gonna be interested in it too. So it it can help to be honest. In in stream fishing, I've, I run into situations where, and the bitches are just so small, you know, you're just kind of, I-I didn't have patterns that that could get that small, you know, just kind of watching the fish rise, scratching your head, trying some, trying something else that that that you hope they aren't just gonna take midges. Yeah, yeah. And then color colors of larvae. I remember on the stretch of the South plat the midges, the mid larvae were like a sharp truce color. And and that was the, that was the killer pattern, like a size 24 sharp truce thread on a hook. What do they come in? All kinds of colors they they do. They call any color you can think of. There's probably a niche out there. Yellow, like you said. Bright Check through screen. Orange, black is real common. Olive, gray is real common. And I think that's where a knowledge of an individual stream or lake and time of year. And if you have the knowledge that at this time, there tend to be, you know, bright green, that's what you wanna use, yeah, then you're, you're gonna be kind of plugged into that. I know people that, I know that fish chronomids and lakes a lot have boxes and boxes of patterns that are all different colors and sizes. Yeah, yeah. Hundreds hundreds of flies, just to cover possible color and size range in in Most of the time, when you're fishing, we kind of getting into the fishing. Your bit is you're, you're gonna be imitating the pupa most of the time. Your time about fishing that shark. Truce Larva That sound like having really good success with it? Moderately good. I wouldn't say Moderately. Yeah. Okay. Size 24, yeah. Size 24 thread egg is not never gonna be easy, that's for sure. That's for sure. But most of the time you're, you're gonna be imitating the PUBA, yeah, in my experience, yeah. And so the PUBA, PUBA are, generally, is it PUBA, PUPA or puba's? You're the inner mode. Well, yeah. So you pubie is plural and and PUPA is singular, and that's how I usually So puby is the plural like larvae versus larvae, right? Okay, so sort of the same say thing. And aren't the puby generally a little more drab than the larvae, aren't they just the ones I've seen, are all kind of like a brownish, you know, greyish, brownish, drab color? Or or are they different colors too? No, I've, I've seen many different colors. Ah, of Pew puby. Bright green. I've seen many bright green green. Okay, in stream streams and and lights. Okay, boy. Yellow, golden brown kind of color? Or straw colored orange? Seen orange ones? Yeah, you know, black. And that silvery gray color is a common one, because it kind of captures that bubble of air underneath. The patterns tied with the kind of the translucence materials over can be very effective for that reason. But the under color, the dominant color, could be quite a range, I I'd say, in streams, especially some of the small ones, like the real tiny ones. I've seen a lot of green ones. Okay, aha, yeah, yeah. You just, you just made me have to go back to the vice and rethink my magic paper invitations. Man, yeah. Well, you know, it's a good, a good point. And you made this a good point, is that if you're, if you're fishing a river or or a lake with midges, you really need to need to find out, if, if you think color is important, you need to find out, you know, what the predominant color is, and that you get from a fly shop or from the Internet, or whatever. But you probably best to do your research if you know there's gonna be midges around. Yeah, yeah. And, you know, it's never necessarily easy collecting edges, but it's not terribly difficult if you're out there doing a good hatch. One thing, one thing I do, this doesn't help so much with color, but it can really help with size, is if you're on a lake, go to the downwind side of the lake and try to find some little foamers and scum along the bank. And they'll be the mid shocks of the pupil in in that scum, sure. And that'll tell you the size range that that's coming off. And you'll see if it's a crowd of it, or you'll see if it's a cat as pupil or a may fly shock. But if it's crown a its, which often is, you'll you'll get dialed in on the size right away. And that's, that's, I think, probably as are more important than colors size, right? Okay? And on streams, you can do the same thing. Just go to an eddie, and if you see a little foam along the bank, along an eddie, look in that foam, and any of the scum that's piled up on the shoreline, the shocks of what's been hatching, is gonna be stuck in that stuff. And and it's a real simple way to sort of see what what the size ranges. That's a great tip. That's a really great tip. Yeah. And the other thing I do is look in spider webs too. Along the shore. You know, the bridges are gonna be often the dominant thing in the spider webs. Now, granted, if they've been there a while, they'll be a little dried up from the spiders, but the fresh ones will be in there, and they'll tell you, you know, what the bitches look like. As adults, I'll give you a pretty good size for the pupil, I would say, if you're seeing adults, you could probably go one size bigger for the puba, you can tend to be about about a size bigger than the adult in in general. So, you know, if you see adults in A-A spider web, kind of take a close look, and if you if they're fresh, and you see the color, yeah, I'd go kind of with the similar color with the pupil. You know, it's a, you know, green adult. Go with a green pupil. It's a brown or black adult. Go with a brown or black people. So, you know, it's not always gonna be exact, but it'll be close, yeah, yeah. So, you know, observing as much as you can out there. And I know people use stomach pumps. I don't, I don't promote that. I think it's and I don't do it myself, because I think it's just too hard on fish. If you're gonna release a fish, using a stomach pump on them is is pretty rough. So I know it's, it's useful, and it'll certainly give you, you know, an answer to some stuff about what they've been eating. But anyway, that's, that's kind of my little take on stomach pumps. Okay, I I'm a stomach bumper. I-I don't do it often, but, yeah, I-I am it it. If if people are really, you know, good at handling fish and and know what they're doing, you can do it quickly and, but, you know, a lot of people just don't have that experience handling fish. So, yep. But that's a great way to see what's what the color and size ranges we have that eating. Okay, yeah, so let's talk about a little bit about, maybe about techniques from the from the larva to the adult. Obviously, larva people, you want it to be dead drift. You don't want any You don't want any drag. These things aren't swimming. It sounds like you could fish a larva almost anywhere in the water column, because they're kind of drift, or a pupic, right? Because they're kind of drifting around. You know, when it comes to the depth, I think that's one of the more challenging aspects of dialing in. What you're gonna do for crime? It's obviously in lakes anywhere from the bottom to the surface. Could be where trout or feeding on them. And I think the trout are going to have a certain depth they're, they're zeroing in on because of where the concentration of the food is, or it's a real preferred temperature range for, okay, in a lake, and they're, they're hanging out in that temperature. And I know I was at a at a conference with Brian Chan, who's kind of the the guru of like, fishing up in British Columbia, right? And he said he'd rather forget his fly rods than his fish finder when he goes lake fishing. Wow, because he uses relies on it so much to know what depth the fish are at and where they're at. And and I know from tying with people that fish the lakes up there much more often than I do, that when the a good chronic hatch can occur in a very isolated, small area of the lake, and that area will move around over the course of a week. You know, it might be in the northwest, northwest Bay. On one day, it'll be in the South Bay, and the next day. And where that concentration of puba or emergence is occurring, the trouter just really feeding. And if you're 50 ft, a hundred feet outside of that area, you're not catching fish, and if you're in it, you're catching fish consistently. So the the hatches can be very in lakes, can be very localize. And and having A-A fish finder, some way of, you know, finding those areas can be really important. Okay, yeah. Stream fishing, yeah. Well, and then getting to the depth, so then springing up to be able to fish, you know, at the the right depth, I guess, when I'm in a lake, and I don't know what depth, and I know there's a midge hatch coming off, the two things I do is I'm looking at the adults on the surface, and there's a good number of adults on the surface, and there are no fish rising to them. I'm gonna fish near the bottom. Okay? Just just as might go to if I don't have a fish finder, and I don't, you know, have any, you know, knowledge about anything else, I'm gonna fish it close to the bottom. So I'm gonna find out the depth I'm in. You know, regular leader that'll reach the bottom and kind of set your indicator, just so your fly is hanging up off the bottom, 6 " or so. And and then if I see fish, though, coming up and feeding, then I'm going to fish a people close to the surface, or maybe, but or two below the surface, or I'm gonna fish something right in the film. Ideally, if you see fish beating near the surface, around the surface, you know, I love fishing dry flies, and there's no reason not to. I mean, I think people get so focused on fishing the pupil, that even when there's fish around on the surface, they don't, they don't transition over to fish the surface, cause they aren't sure it's gonna work. I guess yeah. But, but you can do really well with A-A dry flyer pew by hanging in the film. And it's, it's a lot of fun, of course. Lot more fun than a long indicator. Yes, yes, exactly. So, you know, floor carbon is is a real, I think, a valuable tool we have now for leaders, especially fishing. You know, at depth with corros a, it's a lot less visible, it sinks better, it's strong. So floor carbon for your leader, I think, is a really, really useful tool. Okay, yeah. Now, how about And how about, let's talk about depth and streams. If you suspect fish are eating midges sub surface, you know, depends so much on the water. You're fishing a lot of the water, and fishing out here in the West, and fishing, you know, kind of the runs below rifles say, and the depth is gonna not be that deep. It might be to the 4 ft. Deep, to be pretty typical depth. So in those situations, I typically go to a dry fly with a dropper and just hang a pupa down below dry floor. You could hang it below an indicator too, but I'll often hang it below a dry fly. Sense the flies you're using are gonna be small, and you can suspend a drive fly. Can suspend that easily. So I'll usually put the A pupil pattern on a well just below the drugs light that way, on a dropper. Do you have a favorite pupil pattern? Do you have a go to pupil pattern? Or oil the ice cream cone? Type of Yeah, the ice cream cone is probably one of the most common I have in my fly box. Yeah, that's a real, real common one. Do you Zebra bridge? Do you zebra me? Yeah. Zebra Mitch is another. Another great pattern I'm, I'm kind of like most fly tires, is that you sit down, and you you tie a few zebra midges, and you go, I'm gonna change that. I'm getting bored tie in this. And you tie your own little version, yeah? And you, you, you mix it up with any number of different options and just try them. And they don't have a specific name, but there, you know, a spin off of a zebra midge, or an ice cream cone, and you're trying a little different color and this, or a little different beat color or something. And so there's all sorts of a little variations that's just, you know, kind of brainstorming the flight time vice. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But those two are excellent. And, and again, I'd say, you know, if you're in a specific area, go to the fly shop and ask them, because they're, they're gonna have, you know, the patterns that are working for that specific river or lake for that time of year. Yeah. And and with midges, because they vary so much, it's really helpful to have that local information. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Unless, unless you've got a fly box that looks like Pat dorsey's, and then right then you have thousands of different midges in your box, you still have to decide which one to put on. Yeah, you do. That's true. You do, unless you wanna go through all of them. So how how about dry flies? Because you know that you do see fish taking adult midges. And and often it's surprising, because it's a, it's sometimes a, you know, often, sometimes it's a sipping rise, particularly if it's an emerging pupil. But but then when the adults get buzzing around, you often see these really slashing rises for a fish taking a little tiny bug. Yes. Well, I think we've all stood out there watching this, trying to catch those fish, scratching our heads, going, what the heck do I put on next? Yes, they are taking what I've got on. But I've got a couple of flies that I like to use. I-I really like a little CDC and merger. It's very simple and I-I kind of works for a blue wing. All of the merger too. It's just small, like 2022, and just a little bit of nothing on the body. And then you just have a little CDC for the the wing case, and it'll, it'll look enough like a little pupa hanging in the film of little CDC fibers are hanging off. All the better, because it kind of looks like the legs popping out or something, and you just just floated up there in the film, and it'll float fine, something like that. For drive fly, I've got a fly I've used for quite a long time. It's, it doesn't always work by any means. I wish it did, but it does work sometimes. I had some good luck with it this year in a couple of Midge situations. It's just A-A little down link catus, really, but it's, I type, quite small. The peacock curl, body, very thin peacock curl. And then you can use wood duck or or ballard flank or some just a few fibers over the back for the wing, and then just a couple of turns of brown hackle and and that's it. And it it's a good little Midge pattern. And where there are times where it works quite well. Do you, do you skate it? Do you skate it? Sometimes? What I'll do with that in streams is usually presented with an up and across cast. Let it float and skate a little bit. If you if you're in water where that, you know, looks usable. If you're not in fast water, you can skate it. I tend not to dress it with dry flight floating or anything. And it's light enough you can skate it. And then on the down swing, I'll, I'll actually get a little tug and let it go under, and I'll just swing it like a little wet fly. And a lot of times the takes are after it's gone underwater, and I'll just kind of let it do a dead drift swing. But then, of course, as it gets below you, you're swinging it up, and it's got some motion to it. And, and it's interesting how trout often really like that swung fly, even when the midges really aren't behaving that way. Interesting, yeah. And, and that can work quite nicely, actually. Okay, so you're kind of getting both the dry action in the little soft, hackle web fly action. Same cat. Yeah, yeah, that's a nice that's a nice way to go. Yeah. But in faster water, you know, where it's bouncing along and stuff, course, you're typically in streams, you're fishing in, you know, the calmer surface time of water when the midges are out. The other thing to keep in mind in in streams is look for the foam lines too, because there's a lot of dead images on the surface after they've laid eggs, or they just died, trying to emerge. And if you see, like, a nice phone line going down A-A runner in a pool, that's where the food is getting concentrated. And they'll be trout, you know, feeding around those phone lines on edges that are struggling or that have already died. Okay, yeah. It's a great place to find where the spinners are too. If there's a may fly hat, the spinners will be, you know, in those phone in those phone lines, yeah. So if you see, if you see fish kind of sipping in a phone line and you can't figure out what they're taking, could be could be drowned midges, could be drown bridges, could be ants, could be some trestrials, small trestrials, could be spinners, you know, just depending on what you've seen going on on the river that day. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. But stream fishing, again, most of the time I'm imitating the puba, Yeah, okay. Good. Good tip. And then And then, of course, you know, we're getting into winter here now, and and often midges are the only insect that are active, and they become so important in the in the winter time, in a lot of streams, or fish are active at all, they're probably eating some midges, absolutely. And and one of the things I'll do is with just men fishing, I typically fish a couple of them. So I'll have say airs ear, you know, is the bigger fly, and then a little mid coupon, or midge larva, or mid larva is the second fly. Yep. And and that can be quite effective in in the winter, or anytime, anytime year. But definitely, like you say, in the winter midges, can be one of the more traveling critters out there. Yeah? By fishing, by fishing a bigger fly, you have to get that little, tiny fly down there, somehow close to the bottom, and it's either split shot or a big fly, right? Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And I-I found over the years of why nymphing is that two nymphs seem to be more effective than one nymph, even if you're getting the the single nymph to the same depth. I think there's just more that they sort of site. They see the group of flies, see a couple of them, and they get attracted to it. And then they take the fly that's, you know, the one they're really maybe being more selective to. And I've, you know, been nipping with two and doing pretty well. And I get hung up and I-I-I lose the rag, and I go, I don't wanna tie on two flies. I've been catching them all on this one, so I just tie that one on by itself. And then I'm not catching nearly as many. So, you know, I'm, and I'm getting to the same depth and everything, I'm pretty sure, because I put on a split shot or something, and I'll go back to two flies, and it starts working better. So, yeah, I-I found two nips often seem to have a little more success. I found that too. And, you know, I like fishing dry dropper a lot, and I've found myself fishing three flies more often than I like, because the tangles are nasty. But that does seem to work better. And in in British Columbia, where I fish a lot, they don't allow fishing to flies. Illegal fish. Yeah, flies. So when I go up there, I-I just go crazy. I go, man, I can't fish too flood. Yeah. You need to, you need to check your regulations, because some places it's one fly. Some places it's to some places it's three max. And I think I was just talking to somebody in New York State, you can fish, I don't know, up to like, 18 if if you wanted to. Wow, yeah. Well, the the, the, the, the general rags, you know, include travel hooks and stuff. So, you know, you could, you, you start to, you start to count up the points on the hooks, and you can get away with not that you'd wanna fish five or six flies on a liter, but it's legal if you wanted to, right? Right? Right? Interesting, yeah, yeah, yeah, very interesting. Well, well, chronics can create a lot of fun fishing, but they can also create a lot of frustration. That is for sure. Yeah, yeah, but don't don't let it bother you, folks. Don't let it bother you. Just if they're too small, try a bigger fly. Hope, hope that the fish are looking for clusters or or something, or looking for something else. But there are times when fishing midges is gonna make a big difference. Yeah. And, and don't be afraid to fish a small fly either. You know, people think, well, this, this is ridiculous. I'm not, you know, gonna have any luck with this size 24 fly. Or, you know, how can that fish even see that? But give it a try. Because when the fish are really selective on those those tiny midges, those small flies do work. Yeah, it's a, it's a real leap of faith. First time I spent much time fishing in Colorado, and and somebody told me I had to fish, you know, a 22 and a 24. Blind fishing with 22 and 24, you you it's a real leap of faith to to think that you're gonna catch any fish doing that, but it does work. It is a leap of faith, yeah? And, and, and success will sort of give you the confidence that it that it will work, yeah. And, and I found, you know, I've done a lot of fish stomach studies where, you know, trout have been caught with audio a fish department or something, and I've been there to identify what they're in their guts and and I've research some other there's a lot of papers out there on fish stomach analysis and what they've been eating. And when you look at those studies, midges come up either the dominant food item or in the top five all the time. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And and so, you know, they're just a routine and important, very important part of the diet of trout. So, you know, be thankful we have midges. Yep. And we all probably need to learn more about midges. And that's why I had down the pod cast today. Because I've learned a ton, and I'm sure other people have. Well, it's, it's a great topic, and and one that that keep going a long time about, but it is a great topic. Yeah, yeah. Well, rick, I wanna thank you for sharing, sharing your knowledge with us today. It's great to have someone who's, you know, studied these things, both personally for fun and professionally, and your great wealth and knowledge, and appreciate sharing it with us today time. It's my pleasure. I-I really appreciate that to talk to you. Okay, rick, thanks very much. Yeah, bye, bye. Thanks for listening to the Orbis Fly fishing pod cast for Tom Rosenbower. You can be a part of the show. Have a question or comment, send it to us at podcast at orbis dot com, in the body of an email or as a voice attachment. You can find more free fishing tips at How to Flyfish, dot orbis dot com.