Farmington: Midge Flies

TL;DR: Midge flies, #24 and smaller.

I hit the same area where I went last week and had some good success. With flows back to normal, I wanted to see whether the fishing would change.

I arrived at dawn. Already, fish were rising for Farmington Caddis. Now, that bug (Dolophilodes distinctus) is interesting. It does not sprout wings until after it rises and scoots to shore.

I’ve made some flies to imitate them. They don’t work!

So, I instead put on Tim Cammisa’s X-Caddis, a #20. A frisky 14.5″ brown flopped into the net.


With the skunk off, I decided my goal was not to catch the most fish. I wanted to max out on learning. I had a captive audience of rising trout and an adjacent nymphing run, and I wanted to change a few variables. So, I fished different types of flies and used different techniques:

  • Larger dries: #12 Orange Caddis, #16 Klinkhammers in various colors
  • Small dries: Tricos in #20 and #22, #24 Griffith’s Gnat, #30 CDC Midge Emerger, #20 CDC Klinkhammers
  • Various nymphs: all sorts of #20 and #22 bugs, drifted and pulsed; many anchor nymphs, from splashy to subdued
  • Wet flies: soft hackles in different sizes and colors, with and without weight
  • Streamers: big ones and little ones, both dead-drifted and swung

None worked. So, I started to tightline nymph with a Stonefly and an old reliable, a #20 Midge Pupa. Nothing.

So, I put on another reliable, the #20 CDC Soft Hackle. Nothing.


With the rises getting infrequent, I decided to stop and go back to dries. After seeing many refusals, I went with a very small fly. I threw a #24 “Big Eye” Parachute Adams.

Suddenly, a strong tug and a spirited 13.5″ stocked brown came to say hello.

Farmington: Midge Flies

Then, nothing.

Periodically, and rarely, I would see two fish rise about 15′ away. They looked good-sized, and I thought I’d go for them.

The Adams failed to dupe them, and the X-Caddis afterwards also struck out.

So, I looked at my box devoted to tiny flies. I saw a #24 Midge Emerger that is reputed to be a miracle fly but has never worked for me. I put it on. By this point, I was wondering if the fish were wary, as they were quite close to me. Plus, I was tired. So, I sat on the rock and started casting.

On the second cast, a beautiful fish rose, took the fly. I waited a second and set the hook. This 13.5″ brown flopped in to the net.  Given its intact adipose and robust pectoral fins, and lack of elastomers, it looked wild to me.

Farmington: Midge Flies

That cracked the code. More fish, browns and rainbows, came for that fly and other small ones. In the end, I caught both of the good-sized ones.

I’ll blog about that emerger pattern in a future post.


As the sun rose higher and it hit 12 noon, the rises stopped. So, I decided to grab the Euro rod one last time. I fished the same seam that this morning appeared barren. Rather than a #20 dropper, I put on a #26. Same pattern as the one used in the morning, which didn’t work, but just smaller.

Second cast. Bam!

A very strong fish pulled and pulled over and over. The other fish were strong, but this felt unusually so.

In the end, I tamed it. A 15.5″ brown. It had beautiful colors, a strikingly perfect dorsal fin that just stood up, and an intact adipose. No elastomers. I think it’s wild.

And, here’s a close-up of the fly in the fish’s jaw. Am so glad the hook held!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.


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8 thoughts on “Farmington: Midge Flies

  1. Great Post! That’s a small fly! A lot smaller that what I use on a dropper and maybe I need to rethink my setup and try a few.

    1. Thank you! A black Dorsey’s Top Secret Midge. On the smallest Tiemco 2488 hook I could find: size 26.

      The size 24 dry was the Stuck in the Shuck Midge tied Ed Engle’s way.

      Will post about those in the future.

  2. Morning! I think I remember you touching on this subject before, so I apologize if this is redundant. What is your recommendation on where to purchase flies, either online or in store. I have been searching around the internet and have found a few discount fly sites with midge patterns down to size 24, but at really cheap prices. I obviously don’t want to skimp on the quality of flies I am using, but at the same time, on a some what limited budget, I don’t want to pay $2 a fly that I may lose occasionally during an outing. Just looking for a short term suggestion, I am hoping to learn how to tie my own very soon. Thanks for the help!

    1. Hey, Nate, no worries at all.

      So, I unfortunately am not a good source of ideas for this. I’ve bought flies online and also in fly shops of all sorts. I found that regardless of the source, the flies often frayed quickly.

      So, that motivated me to start fly tying, as well as I wanted to get into tightline nymphing given the results and I was tired of working with split shot.

      Then, I found that making up my own flies and tweaks was not only fun, but, also effective; if everyone is throwing a plain ol’ Pheasant Tail, it was really worth it to throw a variant of it, the Frenchie.

      So, sorry I don’t have better ideas! Perhaps, do a search of the Reddit fly fishing sub. with a query like “cheap flies” or “buy flies online.” If nothing comes up, post a question there. Anglers there are good folks and help out each other.

      1. Thanks for getting back to me! I will check out Reddit for some further insight and work on getting the stuff needed to tie my own flies. Thanks again for the help.

  3. For those visually challenged and lacking coordination like me, I have found a couple of sites I recommend for purchasing tiny midges. The best is San Juan River Flies; micro midges down to size 28 and very reasonable prices for flies tied in the USA. The other is The Fly Shack which seems to have more commodity midges, but at great prices. Finally there is the Blue Quill Angler that has many great patterns, but is a little more pricey, and most of their flies only go down to size 22. These sites can easily be found with a Google search. – Charlie

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