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Lateral view of a Female Hexagenia limbata (Ephemeridae) (Hex) Mayfly Dun from the Namekagon River in Wisconsin
Hex Mayflies
Hexagenia limbata

The famous nocturnal Hex hatch of the Midwest (and a few other lucky locations) stirs to the surface mythically large brown trout that only touch streamers for the rest of the year.

27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

This topic is about the True Fly Family Chironomidae

Midges are the most important aquatic insects in some places, especially fertile spring creeks where they are extremely abundant and the current is so slow that it's efficient for trout to surface feed on very tiny insects.

Some midges are large, up to hook size 14, but the majority are size 22 or smaller. The number of genera and species is hopelessly huge for angler entomologists to ever learn, and the identifing characteristics often require slide-mounting tiny parts under high-powered microscopes. Even the most Latin-minded fisherman must slip back to the basics--size and color--to describe his local midge hatches.

Example specimens

Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Dec 4, 2012December 4th, 2012, 8:20 pm EST
You know guys I really can't say that I remember ever seeing the situation the fly was designed for in real life. I have seen some midges flying over newly emerging bugs, but it never turned in to the orgy they claim or looked like anything that the cluster midge or G. Gnat was supposed to cover.

I have fished single midges and had great fishing, even though I don't go quite as small as Tony. A size 26 Marinaro Midge hook may have been the smallest.

I have written here somewhere about fishing Armstrongs Spring Creek early one morning in 1995 and having a ball and the river to myself. In 2004 on Nelson's I was stopped in my tracks for a while when I spotted some tiny black midge hatching in large numbers. I bent down to look under the water and zillions of them had moved to the top of a fair sized rock and were crawling around on it and then heading to the top to hatch...Except on the top of the rock it still didn't look like a "cluster" on the top.

It has been years for me as well in terms of remembering the last time I used it...They are in the midge box still though...I used them over stockies in a put-and-take pond in the spring...There are several different midge hatching there and the evening rise is something to see...There isn't much else to feed on in the pond in terms of bugs and the stocked fish get on them pretty quickly after they have settled in to their new home and the trip over in the hatchery truck.

I pretty much only have to use a 16/18 black Klinkhammer to interest these sorry looking fish.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Falsifly
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Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Dec 4, 2012December 4th, 2012, 10:20 pm EST
In 2004 on Nelson's I was stopped in my tracks for a while when I spotted some tiny black midge hatching in large numbers. I bent down to look under the water and zillions of them had moved to the top of a fair sized rock and were crawling around on it and then heading to the top to hatch...Except on the top of the rock it still didn't look like a "cluster" on the top.

Spence, I doubt you were witnessing a hatch, I have seen this same thing many times where midges were crawling both below and above the waterline on rocks but they were adults. Check your PM I have linked to a few of my topics which you may have missed and I don't want to bore others with redundancy.
Falsifly
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Dec 4, 2012December 4th, 2012, 10:30 pm EST
Al-

Hey, to hell with redundancy... I want to read what you had to say on this topic too!:) Can you put up the links?

Spence -

What hooks do you prefer for your Klinks?
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Falsifly
Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Dec 4, 2012December 4th, 2012, 10:50 pm EST
PMed Kurt, you can take it from there.
Falsifly
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Dec 4, 2012December 4th, 2012, 11:17 pm EST
Thanks, Al.
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Dec 6, 2012December 6th, 2012, 10:07 am EST
Spence -

What hooks do you prefer for your Klinks?


Kurt,

I just use Tiemco 2487/2457 "scud" hooks...A long time ago I purchased the Partridge K12ST hooks and per Oliver Edwards' "Flytyers Masterclass" I was going to bend the front quarter of the hook...I purchased that book in 1996 and I still have the hooks. :) I never did get around to bending them because a good friend told me just to use the Tiemco hooks. I think that Partridge has actually made a hook for Hans van Klinken now especially for the Klinkhammer.

For the early season Baetis I use this fly, even though its supposed to be a caddis pattern, with natural goose biot for the body, Dun EP or Hi-Vis for the post, and dark dun hackle...Its rough to see except on good "Baetis Days" (i.e. over cast and gray), but the trout see it just fine. :)

As you know, some of the midges aren't really "small", especially on that pond I fish in the spring. The same version I use for the Baeis above works for that larger "duck-fly" midge thats rather gray...I tie it in all black as well for those spring stockies.

I like it in apple green and brownish hackle for that Cheumatopsyche or Hydropsyche caddis we get here starting in May. Thats a pretty looking fly.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Entoman
Entoman's profile picture
Northern CA & ID

Posts: 2604
Entoman on Dec 10, 2012December 10th, 2012, 4:51 pm EST
Thanks, Spence. Those sound like good choices. How about the 2488? Same lighter wire hook, only with a straight eye? Oliver Edwards is a genius! His fly designs are deadly for selective fish and will remain so. You can't buy 'em, and very few can tie 'em. The fish will never get "bored."

Allan -

Regarding your links - Some of the best midge insights I've read! Great photos too. Kudos...
"It's not that I find fishing so important, it's just that I find all other endeavors of Man equally unimportant... And not nearly as much fun!" Robert Traver, Anatomy of a Fisherman
Oldredbarn
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Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Dec 10, 2012December 10th, 2012, 8:03 pm EST
Allan -

Regarding your links - Some of the best midge insights I've read! Great photos too. Kudos...


Yes Allen...I promise to get back with you ASAP...Been a bit busy here with non-fishing related stuff. I'm heading west next summer and, as you know, they are very important out there...I think I mentioned a banner morning on Armstrongs in 95...I'll pull up your posts and get back with you.

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Ggranger
Ggranger's profile picture
Lancaster, PS

Posts: 1
Ggranger on Mar 5, 2015March 5th, 2015, 9:49 am EST
I have not seen a cluster of midges (or tiny flies) on a stream. I was startled one day while fishing a hatch of very small flies with a Griffith's Gnat (#20) The hatch was +- #26 trico which I did not have. Gnat was the only fly that fish would take.
On the last take when I removed the hook there were two small tricos on the gnat. Anyone seen or heard of that?
wearyfisher1
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Mar 5, 2015March 5th, 2015, 11:52 am EST
Yes, often when I'm fishing a Trico spinner fall when I bring my fly in to maybe change it I've caught a couple of Trico spinners on my hook. In rivers with large Trico spinner falls it is really quite common. Imagine you are casting a little tiny hook out into a river with hundreds of thousands of dead and dying Tricos floating on the surface. Your hook is going to hook onto some of them.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Oldredbarn
Oldredbarn's profile picture
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Oldredbarn on Mar 5, 2015March 5th, 2015, 6:47 pm EST
Matt. I remember fishing from an Au Sable riverboat and thought something was wrong with my tiny fly. Turned out I had hooked a dun...I just turned to the guide and told him, "My flies are so damn good, other mayflies are trying to mate with it!" :)

Spence
"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
Falsifly
Falsifly's profile picture
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 660
Falsifly on Mar 6, 2015March 6th, 2015, 4:37 am EST
I have not seen a cluster of midges (or tiny flies) on a stream.

http://www.troutnut.com/topic/1827/Small-but-mighty-in-numbers
Falsifly
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."
Wbranch
Wbranch's profile picture
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2635
Wbranch on Mar 6, 2015March 6th, 2015, 4:53 am EST
Here is a great photo of one of hundreds of Trico swarms that appear every morning on a particular western tailwater. You can imagine what happens when the mating swarm is over and they fly over the river and fall.

Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Feathers5
Posts: 287
Feathers5 on Mar 6, 2015March 6th, 2015, 5:10 am EST
This site is great! I've learned so much here. I love the photography.
Bouncing_to
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South Paris, Maine

Posts: 1
Bouncing_to on May 21, 2015May 21st, 2015, 12:41 pm EDT
About the griffiths gnat. I have seen midge clusters and even what I call a midge train. I have lived in Maine my whole life(28yrs) I was born an outdoorsman my father taught me to observe wildlife quite young. I was always finding and collecting specimens of mayflies, salamanders etc. And was bibbed the "bug guy". At our local lakes and ponds in Oxford county every summer brings with it the migration of most peculiar species. Tourist season boats buzz the middle of the lakes, jonboats and canoes and trolling the the shoals and points. With my fly rod in hand on shore watching what looked to be a cloud of dandelion seeds flying towards me. So I took a deep breath bracing for myself to be a victim of cross pollination. It gets close enough to me to focus on individual organisms clinging together in some sort of horny bug conga line. I watched the trains maneuver, rising then drop an collide with other trains. It was fun to watch the trout and white perch launch out of the water to take these trains. If I can I would like to send someone here @ troutnut a pic of these this summer. If you can find me hit me up I have a family to feed.
Bounce them toads.
Taxon
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Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1311
Taxon on May 22, 2015May 22nd, 2015, 7:38 am EDT
Hi Gregg-

If I can I would like to send someone here @ troutnut a pic of these this summer.


Nice intro, and welcome to the Troutnut forum. If cam manage to capture an individual specimen from one of your "trains", just take a macro photo of it and post the image, so it can be identified for you.

Best regards,
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com

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