Fly of the Month: Black Beauty Midge

Blue Quill Angler fishing guide Pat Dorsey is credited with turning the Black Beauty into one of the most popular flies in the mountain West. It is a very basic, easy-to-tie pattern that has many variations, all of which are effective on many of Colorado’s rivers.

The fly was created to imitate a midge pupa, and if you’ve ever seen the food pumped from a fish’s stomach, you know that midge pupae make up a huge portion of the diet of most trout.

Significant, too, is that midges are found in the water all year long, especially tailwaters, so that makes fishing midges all the more important. They are small in size (#18 - #24 hooks), but trout eat large numbers of them.

Remember, you can catch really big fish on very small flies. Try one of these in Cheesman Canyon or on the Blue River through Silverthorne to see just how effective they can be.

When it came to choosing the “must have” flies for fishing Colorado rivers and streams, our members picked the Black Beauty as #10 on their list. You can bet that every guide around here will be carrying the Black Beauty, especially in sizes 22 and 20.


Hook: TMC 2487, 2488 or 101 in sizes 18- 24
Thread: 8/0 Uni-Thread, Black (Black UTC 70 Deneir for flies size 22 or larger)
Abdomen: 8/0 Uni-Thread, Black
Ribbing: Fine copper wire
Thorax: Black beaver, rabbit, or Fine and Dry dubbing

Tying Instructions

Step 1: Attach the thread to the hook just behind the eye, cut off the tag end.

Step 2: Attach the copper wire just past where you stopped the thread.

Step 3: Wrap the thread over the wire all the way back to the bend of the hook. Keep the wire on the top of the hook as you wrap. Your thread should be smooth and even with no wire showing.

Step 4: Return the thread toward the eye of the hook, leaving room for the thorax, with smooth wraps.

Step 5: Wrap the wire ribbing forward, making 5 -7 spiral turns. Tie down the wire with three or four wraps of your thread. Break or cut the remaining wire off. I keep an old pair of fingernail clippers on my tying desk for this kind of task.

Step 6: Put a small amount of dubbing material on the thread. Then wrap this at the front of the hook to create a round thorax. Whip finish, cut off the thread and cement.

Black Beauty Midge

Variations: Put a clear glass bead at the front for a Mercury Black Beauty. A TMC 2488 hook or a TMC 101 hook works well with beads. Put a brass bead (or silver) at the eye and use a silver wire for the ribbing and you have a Zebra Midge. Tie the fly with a white thread body, copper wire and a black thread head to get a Miracle Nymph.

Black Beauty Midge

Final Version (Above); Mercury Black Beauty (Below)

By Jim Wilborn.