Midge Clusters

The Griffith’s Gnat has been the most productive midge cluster ever invented.  I use it in sizes #12-20 on rivers throughout the West.  George Griffith tied this simple pattern, it’s durable and productive which are characteristics of all quality fly patterns.  Peacock and grizzly hackle….simple shit….thanks George for inventing this fly.

So, last Spring, before a trip to the Big Horn with several buddies, I sat down at the bench to tie these up.  After cranking out a half dozen, I looked at the fly and a thought occurred to me –  why not add a wing, for visibility?  Lots of folks have done this in the past using CDC or tying this fly with a post and hackle, but I never really thought it looked quite right.  Since I had just finished up tying a couple dozen BWO Comparaduns, the idea of using a comparadun wing (for you died in the woollies – a haystack wing) sounded cool.  So, I tried it and also added a sparkle tail as well…why not….right?  I also clipped the fly, top and bottom, to give it a cleaner look – much like the buzzball.  On over cast days, I use a black comparadun wing as this shows up nicely in silver water.

We fished this pattern on the Big Horn with a ton of success, but since the trout were taking damn near everything we floated to them, the test was not really a test.  The entire season went by and finally a chance to test out this pattern arrived while guiding on the Missouri River in late October.   Tim (pictured above) had never thrown a dry fly.  He wanted to up his game and was tired of chasing the bobber from ramp to ramp.  We launched at Wolf Creek bridge and floated down a short ways.  I dropped the hook and started in on the instruction – measuring distance, reach cast, slack line, feeding line and of course the concept of first drift/best drift as the best course of action for him to take.  Tim, being the scientist that he is, caught on fast.  Rising trout on the Missouri can be some of the most picky sonsabitches anywhere, especially by late Fall.  We set up fishing to our first pod of the day, above the Railroad Trussles, and had seven or eight nice fish taking midges and spent BWOs.   With just one fly and some 5x, Tim went to work and managed to catch his first trout on dry fly in about two minutes.  His first fish moved a foot and half off it’s line to eat the fly.  He hooked and jumped a few more, then we moved on.  Well done Tim.  We spent the rest of day fishing streamers in between pods of trout.  The only fly we used for the pods, was my new twist on George Griffith’s Gnat.   Just after Christmas, I sent this pattern, and several others to Montana Fly Company for submission.  With any luck, they will add this my collection of patterns at MFC.

My twist on the Griffith’s Gnat – the Gnat King Cripple…..this was named after several beers while floating the Big Horn.

Mallard

We ventured downstream again today, this time to Mallard.  Most of us had never been below 13, and honestly, after fishing this lower stretch, I wouldn’t float anywhere else on the Big Horn.  Quality streamer water mixed with dry fly flats, almost alternating with each other was quite fun.   One could have nymphed up trout along the way, if you wanted.  We did not.   There was minimal wind displacement, maybe the occasional north breeze, which made for stacks of midges rolling down the river…..all day long.   They ate clusters and at times we had to find a smaller fly to fool a larger fish in the slow water.   On one particular island chain, all six of us were out wade fishing to rising fish.   Once the light was off the water, the river was alive with trout and fishing 3x with a #14 midge cluster was too much fun.

Tomorrow we are out of here and headed for Livingston.  They back to West Yellowstone for a couple of days on the Madison.   This spring has seen some great fishing thus far, are you coming out?