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3 Flies for the Week: February 12

3 Flies for the Week: February 12

With stable conditions continuing on from last week into this week, I’d expect fishing to remain stable as well. As of late it’s been phenomenal, warm air temperatures have been able to increase water temperatures during the middle of the day which has brought thicker midge hatches. I know, we all see ‘midge’ and let out a small sigh. But it’s not all bad! In addition to the regular small midges that hatch all winter, mid to late-February offers two unique winter hatches that many people tend to overlook. One of them is another midge hatch, but these midges are a little different than their tiny cousins. The Buffalo Midge tends to hatch from mid-February through early-March, but the majority will hatch in a 9-15 day period that will begin any day now. These midges allow us to get away from the standard sz24 patterns and allow us to fish “bigger” presentations. Buffalo Midges range from a sz16 to sz20, but the vast majority will be a sz18. In addition to the Buffalo Midge hatch, a very short window that will also begin at any moment is the Small Black Winter Stonefly (yes, that’s their name). These stoneflies are babies in comparison to their summer cousins, ranging from a sz18 to sz22, but fishing a sz18 is more than enough to get the job done. Before I talk too much more about these hatches, let’s talk about the flies and why they’ll be so effective.

#1: Copper John - Black sz18 (In Store Only)

The Copper John is a timeless classic that has and always will produce fish. Even though this pattern doesn’t perfectly imitate anything, it looks like just about everything which is what makes it so deadly. With this in mind, I do believe that the small black variation actually does a fantastic job at replicating a Small Black Winter Stonefly. This hatch is just about ready to kick off, if it hasn’t already, and the fish absolutely key into this hatch. It’s the only time throughout the winter where something other than a midge is hatching. Although trout like to eat midges, I like to think they prefer to eat other options when they’re around. Additionally, even though the Small Black Winter Stoneflies are only a few sizes bigger than the midges that are hatching, they are loaded with far more calories and I think that is why the fish key in on this sporadic hatch so heavily. I’d be fishing this fly as my lead fly on a nymph rig at all times throughout this week and the remainder of February. Even if the hatch isn’t going strong the particular day you’re on the water, it doubles well as an incredibly natural and low profile attractor and will help differentiate your rig from everyone else who’s running a bright scud, egg, leech, etc. as a lead fly. 

#2: Flashy Money Midge - Brown sz18

Holy cow, am I really recommending a sz18 midge this time of the year? Yes I am. Like I mentioned before, the Buffalo Midge will begin at any moment now and if there’s ever a time to fish a big midge in the winter, this is it. To reiterate, these midges are on average three to six sizes bigger than average winter midge and the trout most certainly take notice. Much like the Small Black Winter Stonefly hatch, this is a time where trout can almost take a sigh of relief and have the opportunity to eat a surplus of larger sized, hatching bugs. Sure, they get a chance to eat the random egg, scud, leech, or worm in the winter, but these bugs hatch throughout the day and can go on like that for almost two weeks or more. I’ve mentioned the Flashy Money Midge in past 3 Flies for the Week, so I won’t go into too much detail on why we like fishing this pattern. I will say though, this is an amazing natural pupa pattern that offers the perfect amount of flash to catch a trout’s eye and differentiate your fly from the hundreds, if not thousands of naturals. Personally, I’d be fishing this fly second on my nymph rig, behind the Copper John. But, if you want to throw a midge larva on your rig, then I’d place this as my third fly. 

#3: Massacre Midge - Black sz20

The Massacre Midge is one of the best emerger patterns out there. This fly was designed on one of my former home rivers, the Uncompahgre, and was created to fool the incredibly picky trophy fish that reside in its waters. The fish in this river system are some of the hardest to catch and if a fly does well there, I trust it just about everywhere else. Although the sz20 isn’t necessarily a great size throughout the remainder of the winter, I think it has a perfect home in your fly box right now. A sz20 resembles a smaller Buffalo Midge while also imitating a larger form of the other midges. So even if the Buffalo Midges aren’t going super strong on your day out, this fly can still be fished effectively. Keep in mind, even if the Buffalo Midges aren’t hatching heavily that day, the fish have become accustomed to seeing them and will absolutely take advantage of the few that drift by them. Plus, it’s much easier to hook and land a fish on a sz20 than it is on a sz24.

Best of luck on the water this week and we hope these flies catch a fish or two for ya. Two out of the three flies are available on our website and all are available in the shop. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Xavier on email at, or call the shop at 303-330-1292. Thank you!
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