FLY OF THE MONTH – MAY 2023
FLY OF THE MONTH – MAY 2023
THE SIMPLE BLACK MIDGE PUPA
HOOK: Size 14 – 16 Black Nickel Grub.
THREAD: Black 8/0.
BODY: Black thread.
RIB: Fine silver wire.
THORAX: Built up with tying thread.
FINISH: Coat the entire fly with a thin layer of ‘Bug Bond’ or similar
UV–cured resin. If the fly feels tacky after coating, cover with a
layer of ‘Hard as Nails’ varnish or similar. Alternatively, give it three
coats of normal fly-tying varnish. For the first coat, add as much as
the thread will soak up and allow plenty of time to dry between
This will probably be the simplest fly in your box but it surprisingly
effective in a buzzer hatch. Here at Hallington, the size 16 is a good
copy of the small black midges that hatch early in the season.
Midge pupae are usually referred to as ‘buzzers’ by most anglers.
However, the term buzzer really refers to the adult midge as it
emits a buzzing noise while in flight. You may hear this high-pitched
whine when one flies into your ear while you’re fishing! The midge
larva is known as the bloodworm and generally lives in the mud at
the bottom of the lake. When the larva pupates and heads for the
surface to hatch into the adult fly, it is at its most vulnerable and
easiest to imitate. When the pupa reaches the surface the transition
to the adult can be very rapid. Once out of the pupal shuck, the
adult usually takes flight within a few seconds.
There are hundreds of midge pupa patterns and there are
thousands of species of midge in all colours and sizes. Most patterns
will be more complicated than the one featured above. They could
have wing cases, breathers, extra ribs, shell backs etc. etc. For
fishing at Hallington and around the north-east of England I
generally stick to patterns tied on hooks 12 – 16 and in colours
black, olive, green, and brown. These sizes and colours will cover
most eventualities around here. As you go further south the midges
tend get larger and the colours brighter with red patterns popular
on the midlands reservoirs.
Methods of fishing are numerous, but the main ones are:
1. The Bung. Like it or not, bung fishing has become hugely
popular and is extremely effective. The flies hanging below
the bung can be fished static or retrieved very slowly. This is
exactly how a fish would expect to find natural midge pupae
behaving and this accounts for its success.
2. The Washing Line. With a floating or midge-tip line, fish a 12 –
16 foot leader with a buoyant fly on the point. This can be a
small booby, a greased-up muddler minnow or similar. Tie
your pupae onto the droppers. Fish with a slow to steady
figure-of-eight to keep the flies up near the surface. This is
very effective when fish are rising and buzzers are coming off
3. The Long Leader. With a floating or midge-tip line, fish a 12 –
16 foot leader with 2 or 3 pupa patterns. The point fly can be
weighted to help get the flies down especially on a cold day
when there may be few fish near the surface. With a floating
line, a wool or floss indicator can be used at the line/leader
junction to aid take detection.
Above: Midge pupa, empty shucks and an adult spooned from a fish
Below: A selection of midge pupa types
Below: The simple midge pupa strikes again!
Apart from midges and their pupae, the other main flies to watch
out for during May are black gnats and hawthorn flies. When these
terrestrials are blown onto the water, they can cause a good rise of
trout and this can result in some of the best fishing of the year.
Other flies to watch out for are beetles, alder flies and the first
hatches of Sedges towards the end of the month. There may also
be Aphids and Dung flies falling onto the water.
Now the warmer weather has arrived, fish will be at or near the
surface most days and flies fished in this zone will have a good
chance of catching.