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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chironomid 101 - Part l - Chironomid Facts and Tips

As they used to say in the TV show Dragnet. "Just the facts, Maam" Here's some Chironomid facts and Tips to get us started with Chironomid 101. It's an introduction to this important stillwater bug.

Chironomids are the food source eaten more often than any other. I attended Phil Rowley's Stillwater Scholl where he compared them to M&M's. You put a bowl of M&M's on a table and you just grab handfuls and keep eating. Trout do the same when they feed on chironomids. Let's look at some facts about chironomids.

Seasonal Availability

  • Larvae are available all season long, 12 months of the year
  • The emerging pupae and adults are available two times a year. They become a main food source for stillwater trout in;
(1) April through June
(2) August through October

  • With that said about the pupae, chironomid larvae or "bloodworms" are available for trout all year long and are a main food source for all stillwater trout all year long.
  • Bloodworm patterns are a good choice during low light conditions and after recent windstorms.
  • Chironomid Pupae patterns can also be used throughout the season as they have elongated emergence cycles. Trout will often take chironomid pupa patterns regardless of the season.
Fishing Tips for Chironomids
  • When trout are found in water 20 feet or less, use a floating line and slip indicator. Start with suspending the flies one to two feet off the bottom. make sure you are just above any weeds.
  • Experiment by moving the fly up one foot at a time to locate feeding fish. Sometimes 6 inches can make a difference.
  • In water 15 feet or less also try using use a floating line and a long leader. This is called the "Naked Technique". Use a fly line like the Rio Indicator Line that has a orange 18" tip which will be your indicator. Takes will be seen as a movement by the orange tip rather than felt.
  • When using the "Naked Technique", your leader should be 25% longer than the water is deep.
  • When using the "Naked Technique" you must balance 4 variables.
(1) Leader Length
(2) Retrieve Speed
(3) Pattern Weight
(4) and the time to allow the pattern to sink
  • Wind drift larva and pupa patterns by quartering across the wind and allow the ripple to swing through the water column. Watch the orange tip of the fly line for any movement.
  • When fishing for chironomids in water over 20 feet deep use a full sink line, a type VI or VII and retrieve the fly vertically through the water column. Cast only the amount of line and leader as the water is deep. Count the flies down and use a shorter leader.
  • Remember that when presenting imitations for the chironomids larva and pupa, the retrieves must be so slow that they are almost static.
  • When fishing on the surface, pay attention to whether the trout are taking skittering or stationary adults. Present your flies accordingly.
  • When trout are taking chironomids on the surface consider using a soft hackle retrieved slowly through the area of rising trout.

Chironomid Larvae Patterns

Size - 3/8" to 1" - Hook sizes #8 through #16 - A size #12 2x long is a good average size larva pattern

Shape - Slender, segmented and worm-like

Color - Many species are able to generate hemoglobin in order to survive in oxygen poor conditions.
  • As a result scarlet red or maroon coloration is common.
  • Larva can generate hemoglobin as conditions dictate which affects coloration. Candy Cane schemes of red and green are common on some lakes.
  • Olive and bright green are other common colors
Chironomid Pupae Patterns

Size - 3/8" to 1 inch, hook sizes #8 - #18
  • Chironomid tend to be larger in mud bottomed, algae type lakes. Sizes #12-#8
  • In clear water lakes, Chironomids are smaller $10 -#18
  • A #12 is a average pupa size and a good place to start.
  • If trout do not appear to be selective to size try using one size larger so your fly will stand out from the naturals.
Shape - Comma-like shape.
  • Many pupa patterns use scud pupa hooks to suggest the profile
  • Most patterns have a bulbous thorax, slender segmented, tapered abdomens
  • In clearer water or on lake with much angler pressure consider using slim realistic patterns.
Colors - Black, maroon, brown, olive, shades of green, tan.
  • On dark days, use dark patterns.
  • On bright days use bright patterns
  • Pupae use trapped air and gases to aid pupal ascent and the adult transformation. This gives pupae a distinct silver glow.
  • Pupae can change color as they absorb or replenish trapped gases
  • Chironomids pupae have prominent white gills. The Chaoborus pupae do not.
  • Use Super White beads in algae stained waters. They tend not to fouls as much as synthetic or natural materials do.
Chironomid Adults

Size - The adults are smaller than the corresponding pupa.
  • Sizes #10 - #16 covers most adults
Shape - Similar in look to adult mosquitoes.
  • Chironomid adults do not bite like mosquitoes.
Color - Colors mirror those of the pupa. recently emerged adults are bright. Their body color darkens once it hardens.

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Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.