Dennis Collier Fly Illustration - Copyright Dennis Collier 2015Articles

DC's Wet-wire Buzzer

Click here for the "DC's Wet-wire Buzzer – Fly Patterns"
By Dennis P. Collier

Having been an avid stillwater fly fisherman for most of my angling career, "Buzzers" (a.k.a. chironomid or midges) are no stranger to my fly pattern arsenal. Stillwater chironomid will run the seasonal gamete from micro-species – which are almost impossible to see let alone imitate; but, more on this later - then we have the giant chironomid from which the name "Buzzer" was originally hatched.

When this insect starts coming off your favorite lake or reservoir and seeks the sanctuary of nearby vegetation to do it's mating thing, the amplified humming sound of countless tiny beating wings reminds one of standing under high-tension power lines. These bugs are big – averaging a solid half-an-inch in length – are more than prolific, and draw the attention of fish, birds and fishermen alike.

As an aside: One dark night long ago on Wyoming's Diamond Lake, I made the mistake of opening the camper door and turning on the interior light as my partner and I stashed our gear outside. It didn't take but a minute for the white interior walls to turn black as a bazillion giant chironomid were drawn to the light. The rest of the night offered little rest as those critters crawled all over us…a lesson learned the hard way.

One way in which to effectively fish this hatch is to hang a brace of Buzzer pupae patterns under a strike indicator and let them dead drift above the bottom structure. By adjusting leader length and indicator positioning, you can orient the stack of flies in the water column to keep them moving along in the fishes feeding zone. If it's windy, wave action will add an enticing movement to the flies. If not, animate your imitations with a short stripping action.

Remember, chironomid hatches can and do coincide with the eclosion cycles of other aquatic insects, such as: Callibaetis mayflies, damselflies, and etc. If you're unsure about just which bug the fish are interested in, mix your pattern stack with representations of the likely candidates. The fish will more than likely solve the puzzle for you.

Another deadly method often employed from a float tube or pontoon boat, is to allow the flies to sink just above the bottom by using a fast-sinking fly line. Then, by quickly raising the rod tip, the ascending action of the natural is mimicked – often with arm jarring results as fish aggressively attack the rising fly.

When Buzzer hatches get going, a significant number of the insects will fall just short of actually getting the job done. These stillborn and crippled bugs present a non-moving target for the fish and another angling dimension for the fisherman. Floating a crippled midge fly pattern in, or just under, the meniscus on a long leader and floating line, can add a whoop and holler to your day. At such times, I like to tie on a couple of "DC's CDC Crippled Buzzer" patterns and hang on. This fly can be found in the Fly Archives link on this web site under the "Third Eye Enlightenment" entry.

To be sure, wade fishermen needn't be left out of the chironomid feeding event, and some of my fondest memories are of sight fishing to trout working Buzzers within easy casting distance of the shoreline. One day last year, in particular, serves as testimony to this fact. Arriving at the dam end of Colorado's North Delaney Lake, I first observed several float tubers out in the middle of the lake; but after watching them for a while I didn't see any rods bent from playing fish either.

However, from my observation point on the dam twenty-feet above the water surface, I could see some large fish cruising near shore and feeding on chironomid. Using a floating fly line, twelve-foot leader, and a cast of midge pupae patterns, I proceeded to catch some impressive specimens of the resident brown trout. Point being: why not fish where the fish are!

Giving credit where credit is due, the Wet-wire Buzzer design evolved in part to my playing with the D-midge pattern - created by good friend, Dennis Miller. I tie his D-midge in several colors in diminutive sizes; most of which are now carried in the fly pattern family of Umpqua Feather Merchants. But for me, it was the double glass beads that I found most attractive in adapting the fly to up-sized stillwater applications. The opaque white gill filaments are reminiscent of the "Bow Tie Buzzer" fly pattern. I use Polypropylene yarn since it retains its white color even when wet, but other materials which exhibit the same desirable characteristic, such as dental floss, can be used as well.

Incorporating UTC wire in contrasting colors adds durability to the fly and the prominent abdominal segmentation found in the natural. I wouldn't hesitate mixing the wire color combinations to offer variety on the menu either. I find that size "Small" wire works best for the larger hook sizes; but if you choose to tie this pattern on smaller hooks, size "X-small" wire will probably work better and provide the thin profile you're looking to achieve. For a faster sinking version, substitute a black tungsten bead in place of the gun-metal blue glass bead; however, I really like the luminescent luster of the glass beads rather than the dull tungsten version.

As stated at the beginning of this article, if you've spent much time in the stillwater environment, you've no doubt experienced the hair pulling micro-midge hatch. The water is frequently dead calm and snouts, tails, and fins, are breaking the surface all around you as the fish suck these minute morsels of protein from the meniscus. Tying a size twenty-eight Griffith's Gnat to 7X tippet and floating it around on the vast liquid dinner plate, will soon have you talking to yourself – or entertaining surrounding anglers with newly invented four-letter words. For me, trying to match this hatch is sheer folly so I don't bother.

I've also stated many times in previous literary ramblings, this is the time to switch to the predatory instinct mentality and tie on a streamer pattern. Actively feeding fish will often grab the unsuspecting bait fish which is too busy eating those little bugs to notice "jaws" closing in. If nothing else, at least you'll get some exercise stripping streamers rather than propping your chin in your motionless hand.

I would recommend tying this pattern in a variety of hook sizes to cover the various sizes of chironomid you'll likely encounter over the season – often hatching concurrently as well. Excluding the micro-midge curse just discussed, the stillwater angler can typically enjoy months of on-and-off midge fishing activity throughout the season as various species of more respectable size go through their hatch cycles. And, don't forget to carry a few in your nymph boxes for moving water as well.

Good luck!

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