5 Chironomid Fishing Tips

In this article Jordan Oelrich, guide and owner of  Interior Fly Fishing Company who is based in Kamloops, British Columbia goes over “5 Chironomid Fishing Tips”, a look at stillwater fly fishing’s most meticulous method. Read more below to step up your stillwater fishing game. This is article is brought to us by folks over at Scientific Anglers, the leaders in fly lines and terminal tackle.

Chironomid fishing is a very particular game.  One fly size too large, a few shades too dark or a foot too far from bottom are small imperfections that can impact results.  The draw of fishing chironomids are the days where everything lines up.

When you are overtop of the fish, you’ve tied on the right bug, and there’s a feeding frenzy below as large schools of rainbows inhale one ascending chironomid pupa after the other.

1. The Fifteen Minute Rule

Each fly deserves at least fifteen minutes to prove its validation.  Unless you are backed by a powerful hunch or have significant reason to switch out, fifteen minutes seems to be the magic window before making a change is worthy.  The reason that we develop flies that we consider our standbys is because they have been fished well time and again.

Desperately swapping chironomids out every few minutes will impede your chances of catching far worse than giving each fly at least a quarter of an hour. Have confidence in your patterns and at least give them fifteen minutes. 


2. Shiny Bugs Means Fishing Shallower

As you pull a throat sample before releasing a fish in order to determine what is on the menu, it is valid to spend an extra minute examining exactly what you’re seeing.  Once your throat sample is taken and transferred to a small, clear glass vial or jar, pay attention to the colour of the body on chironomid pupa.

Chironomids build gas in their abdomen to assist them in ascending the water column, the higher they go the shinier they tend to be.  If you are seeing an abundance of what we call chromies, chironomids with a shiny silver or gunmetal body, fish are likely suspended in the water column.  Experiment with moving your fly shallower, it is not uncommon to catch fish in twenty feet of water fishing twelve feet down.


3. When Strike Indicators are Crucial

Chironomid fishing can be done with or without the use of a strike indicator.  Fishing with a strike indicator is not always necessary, but in certain scenarios, they prove highly effective.  Strike indicators are useful in the early parts of the season when fish are feeding in water less than ten feet deep.


Often the case in periods of the season when water is cold, fish will not be taking the fly with much vengeance. Strike indicators allow you to not only keep your fly at the desired depth for as long as you want without touching bottom, they allow you to detect subtle takes.


4. Develop a List of Winners

With such a vast variety of chironomid species in North America, it is no wonder the die-hard chironomid anglers come equipped with a heavy arsenal of flies.  It is great to have selection, but it is equally important to have a few flies that you can fall back on.


Flies that are fished with greater confidence will spend more time fishing properly at depth, yielding greater chances of something shiny climbing on.


5. Stained Water = White Beads

In order to imitate the gills on a chironomid pupa, flies are typically tied with a small tuft of white yarn at the head of the fly or a painted white bead.  While the yarn is a more natural presentation, there are times when fish will hone in on white beads. White beads come into their own when fish are feeding heavily in lakes with darker, off-colored water.  The visibility of the painted white bead allows fish to seek it out from a distance.

This article and photos are from Jordan Oelrich, guide and owner of  Interior Fly Fishing Company.  Give him a follow at @jordan.oelrich or shoot him an email at info@interiorflyfishingco.com.

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