Fly of the Month: Bubble Back Midge

If midges are coming off the water pretty much all year long and trout are eating them all year long, it figures that trout anglers should be fishing midges pretty much all year long.

That’s the logic behind ETU member Jack Egender’s choice for our January fly of the month – the Bubble Back Midge. He uses it as a “go to” fly year-round on trophy trout streams throughout the region, figuring that if midges are in the air, then midge pupae are rising through the water column and the fish are eating them.

The thing that makes the Bubble Back Midge special is the bead tied to the top of the hook so that the fly appears to have the pupa air bubble that is pulling it toward the surface.

For those of us who enjoy spending some of these cold winter days building up our stock of flies, this also is a fairly easy fly to tie. And, it doesn’t require a bunch of different materials.

Jack reports catching large trout with this fly on the Colorado, the Roaring Fork and on the Dream Stream section of the South Platte. He uses it as a dropper behind a dry fly and fished deep as the second fly on a double nymph rig.

If you check out some of the different fly fishing sites, you will see that this is also a popular fly up in Montana and the Dakotas.


Hook: #18 or smaller scud hook, TMC 2547
Thread: 8/0 black
Wire: Ultra Wire, X small silver or gold
Bead: Mercury glass bead, x small

Jack’s Tying Instructions:

Start by cutting about a four-inch length of wire and take about an inch of that and double it back over to the half-way point of your wire length. You should now have a three-inch length, with the last inch being a double section of wire. Thread your bead onto the doubled-over section and set it aside.

Get your hook in the vise and crimp down the barb. Tie in your thread behind the eye of the hook and wrap back to the half-way point and then return the thread back to behind the eye. Keep your thread sparse.

Next tie in the doubled-up section of wire and bead, with the extra length of wire pointing out over the bend of the hook. Tie the wire in just behind the eye, then slide the bead forward and move your thread to behind the bead to tie it in place. Three wraps should do the job.

bubble back midge

You are going to have a little extra of the wire that you doubled over, so go ahead and break or cut off that short piece and then continue to wrap your other, longer piece of wire back just past the bend of the hook. Leave the wire hanging there. Take your thread and wrap it back over the wire to the bend and then back up to behind the bead. Again, keep your thread wraps tight and sparse.

Now you will take the wire and spiral wrap it forward in about four or five turns up to behind the bead and tie it off. This time, break off the extra wire.

At this point you can finish off your fly with just a thread head in front of the bead, a whip finish and a drop of head cement or you can build a thorax with ice dub and then finish it off.

You also can change the fly around by changing the color of thread and the color of wire. Jack has used silver wire to tie this fly, but gold wire also works great. You can experiment as well with some of the colored wires.

It is a beautiful fly and pretty easy to tie. Even this time of year, you should be able to catch fish on it. Try it and see if you can match Jack’s photo.

bubble back midge

Tied by Jack Egender. Written by John Haile. Photos by Tim Stechert