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Fly Fishing with Midges and Small Flies


Gene Macri

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© 2017 E. P. Macri Jr.

The spring creeks of South Central Pennsylvania are where small fly and midge fishing began in the US. Large trout sipping tiny flies while anglers tremble is common in these areas. However, the reason most fly anglers fail in these streams with these flies usually starts with equipment. So here are the opening secrets to the vault if you know what I mean:


  • Rods should not be too soft or too fast. I prefer 8.5 to 9 foot medium fast action for 2, 3, and 4 weights. The rod must have the backbone yet not snap fine tippets.
  • Reels should have a good drag because you are going to play the fish off the reel. I repeat you are going to play the fish off the reel!
  • Tippets are going to be 6 and 7x and may be 8x on occasion. I'm not getting into a discussion of brands but here is a little secret. Your tippet should be around 40 inches or more. You are not fishing the entire line but the tippet. The added length of the tippet will stretch and give you a greater chance to land a big fish. Under no circumstances use a short tippet.
  • You should fish upstream; do not fish down stream. The reason for this is the weight of the fish against the tippet. You'll hook more and land more fish by fishing upstream
  • Make sure your hooks have no barbs. Barbs on small flies will sometimes stop penetration.
  • Take your small flies and take the hook and offset it slightly at the curve. You'll increase your hooking chances greatly.
  • Hand strike the fish by gently tugging with your off hand and then let the line slide. This is often called a slip pull strike. The hook will slide in and the fish will not break you off.
  • Do not over play a fish on a light tippet. You'll build up lactic acid and kill him
  • Play the fish firmly; do not raise your rod high over your head like you see on TV; these guys are idiots; keep your rod lower and at an angle to give more pressure
  • You might want to use a net on these fish because it makes it easy to get them in and release them.
  • Always use the largest tippet and largest fly you can get away with.
  • You must watch the fish or his mouth. If you are fishing underneath the surface add a tiny split shot. This will increase your hooking percentage by 40 to 50% because the weight will help the fly dig deeper.

Well this should get you started in the next edition we will talk fly patterns and specific techniques.



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