The key to success while fishing the zebra midge is to get that perfect presentation: the dreg fry drift or that slight skating sub-surface imitation. The zebra midge often proves to be very successful for novice anglers as they tend not to overthink the approach and the fly seems to work well. The zebra midge is one of the easier and quickest flies to tie in fly tying, and one can knock a few dozen out in no time. Popular colors include black, green, dark brown, and red can also work very well. An unweighted zebra midge can also be used in still waters and fished like a buzzer would be, static with the occasional twitch.
- Hook: Mouche 8471 #10-#16
- Bead: 3mm gold or copper tungsten
- Thread: 70 denier black
- Body: 70 denier black.
- Ribbing: Ultra wire, silver medium flat.
- Thorax: Peacock herl
You can also check out our Best Fly Tying Kit if you are interested.
Step-by-Step for Zebra Midge
Slide your bead onto the hook shank. If you want to add more weight, you can use lead wire. Make one or two lead wire wraps towards the bead.
Lock your hook in the vise, making sure it is secure and not too close to the tip of the jaws, as the hook may slip when you apply tension to it. I advocate using barbless hooks where possible to ease the removal and minimize the damage done to the fish.
Start with a solid level thread base to work with from. You can wrap the thread up and down the shank creating a slight body taper from behind the bead head back to the tail. You can apply a couple of extra thread wraps up and down now as this will for most of the body shape and taper. The taper in these patterns is critical. I watch a video on the life of a midge. You will see the slight taper.
Tie in the ultra wire from behind the bead down towards the hooks bend. You want to take the thread right to the place you intend on wrapping the ultra wire from. This will give a distinct right angle to start wrapping from.
Run the thread behind the bead making sure you cover the wire and build the body taper. At this point, a body filler can be used to bulk up the zebra midge near the head. Tiny rubber legs can be used, or a heavier thread works great. The most important thing to remember is to keep the body tape consistent and not make it too thick or thin in proportion to the head.
Once happy with the body size and taper, wrap the ultra wire forward, creating those very distinct abdomen segmentations. This step seems easy but takes some time to get the perfect distance and balance of space leading up towards the bead. Secure the wire with a few wraps and trim excess.
Zebra midges have very tiny gills/ legs, and the peacock herl fibers imitate these perfectly. Tie in a strand of large peacock herl and wrap it forward to form the thorax and gills/ legs. Tie off the peacock herl and whip finish.
The final stage in the fly tying zebra midge process is to epoxy the abdomen. This isn’t a must, but it does give the fly more durability and make it last longer.
- Place bead on the hook.
- Secure hook in the vice.
- Start with a thread base and give the abdomen taper.
- Wrap the thread backward to the bend and tie in the ribbing wire.
- Run thread to behind the bead and wrap wire forward to form the ribbing.
- Tie in the peacock herl and wrap forward to form the thorax.
- With the thread, tie off the peacock herl and whip fishing.
- Epoxy the abdomen and set it with UV light.
How to fish the zebra midge
This fly is fished like all other midge and buzzer imitations. The weighted versions get down deep in the moving waters while the unweighted versions hang in the columns waiting to be picked up by cruising fish. The zebra midge is to be fished in particular conditions or, better yet, when there is clear evidence of natural activity. This can be anything from sub-surface swirls to airborne aerobatics. If these circumstances start to appear, then a midge isn’t a bad choice to tie on. Single or suspended under a dry fly.