Bighorn River Midge Box

Bighorn River Midge Box

February 27, 2011 4:15 pm Published by
bighorn river midge fly patterns

Midge Selection

With the air temperature finally rising above freezing this week the prime window for midge fishing is almost upon us.  We typically see the densest midge emergence’s on the Bighorn River in March and April.  While these insects are typically quite small 16 – 22, the trout respond in a big way.

There are 3 stages of the midge life cycle that are of significant importance to the fly angler:

The larva stage is best fished with a strike indicator rig fished deep in the water column.  When a midge larva breaks free from the rocks it “wiggles” and “twists” in the water column.  Larva have a very long, thin profile and are most abundant in colors olive, red, cream, brown and black.

The pupa stage is the emerging midge stage and is best fished in the upper third of the water column, a pupa pattern trailed off the back of an adult pattern works quite well.   Also a small soft hackle midge pattern slowly swung or dead drifted then abruptly stopped by the angler so it rises to the surface quickly can also be effective.  Effective pupa patterns typically incorporate a glass bead, antron yarn or cdc  to effectively represent the emerging midge.

The adult stage is represented in two ways; by a single midge pattern or  cluster.  Single midges will emerge first each day, once they are emerging in a consistent manner the trout will begin to actively feed.  As the hatch grows thicker the midges will begin to “cluster” together offering the trout a more substantial meal with each feeding motion.  Many times the midge hatch will become so dense that the midges will cluster to your dry fly as it drifts.  This clustering period can be challenging to the angler because there are so many insects on the water surface it is hard to find your imitation.

Above is a sample of a basic midge box for fly fishing the Bighorn River.

Top Row: Adams Midge Cluster – Rojo Midge – Red Larvae – Zebra Midge

Next Row Down: Griffith’s Gnat – Twilight Midge – Big Ugly – Juju Midge

Next Row Down Again: Parachute Adams – Palomino Midge – WD – 40 – Yong Midge

Bottom Row: Harrop’s Hanging Midge – Emerging Para Midge – Cream Midge – Root Beer Midge

Many effective midge patterns for the Bighorn River can be purchased from


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