Many days are spent cruising around the lake searching for bugs. Even a small patch of mud that is putting off a half-decent emergence can be worthy of your time. What about the other end of the spectrum? The times where there are chironomids blanketing the entire water’s surface and you feel like you are fishing a needle in a haystack?
It is disheartening to think that every chironomid you see hatching is one that made it from the bottom of the lake all the way up without getting intercepted by a fish. A chironomid hatch will turn fish on, without a doubt, but at what point does it begin to work against you? Here are three techniques I lean on during a massive chironomid hatch.
White Beads – If your timing is right, fish will be in a feeding frenzy. Picking off every pupae they can get their lips on while cruising around in a smorgasbord of hatching bugs. Imagine walking down the street and every store was handing out free tacos and cold beers? I am a firm believer that fishing a white bead, or “ice cream cone” chironomid is beneficial in these situations as the painted white bead helps the fly stand out amongst the crowd.
Naked Line – During a massive hatch is my favourite time to fish without a strike indicator. I think that fish will be suspended at various depths in the water column, and that naked lining is an excellent presentation. It is as simple as removing the indicator and swivel, adjusting your leader according to the water’s depth (5-25% longer than the depth of water you are fishing). From here, a painfully slow hand twist will sometimes be interrupted by a violent grab. Hold on tight.
Upsize – I believe in matching the hatch, but when there is too much hatch to make it worth matching then it does not hurt to do something a little different. If the natural bugs coming off are a size 18, throw on a fly that is one size larger than what is hatching. This has proven successful for me on a multitude of occasions when the going gets tough.