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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Universal Chironomid Pattern

The Hamburger of Chironomids

stillwater chironomid fly pattern
Universal Chironomid with goose biot wing pads
So if scuds are the skittles of the sea, then chironomids are likely the equivalent of fast food for the hungry trout. With a laser focus, when chironomids are out and about, the fish will gorge themselves on this plentiful meal ticket. Very rarely will we see stomach or throat samples from stillwater fish that DON'T contain some amount of chironomids in them.

As luck would have it, we like to fish with chironomids in our stillwater fishing and do it quite often. In fact, I have a large chunk of my stillwater nymph box dedicated to chironomids of all shapes, sizes and colors.

OCD Fly Collection

Sometimes, I have to dial in a specific size and color just depending on what the fish are focusing on that day and time. But I have found, more and more, that regardless of various sizes of bugs present, there is a pretty universal size and color that will work most any time on any stillwater -- with very few exceptions. That's why I call this the Universal Chironomid.

A collection of the ubiquitous chironomids

First off, there's nothing inherently magic about this style of pattern -- lots of people tie quill body chironomids. The revelation for me came over the past few years as I noticed that I caught more fish on the smaller less flashy chironomid pupa imitations such as this. So I just standardized on this specific pattern and it's done quite well.

Portly Hamburger-eating rainbow that fell for a smallish chironomid
On a recent trip to a stillwater that holds some very large rainbow trout, I began with some flashier larger style chironomids and was only able to muster a couple of fish here and there. While I noticed two or three sizes and colors of naturals, I focused on the smaller and more traditional looking bugs that were just black/gray or black/tan. The Universal chironomid (UC), once again, worked its magic with 4 fish on its first 4 casts. The 23 inch rainbow on the right was caught on a size #16 UC.

The only differences in this pattern are really just the bead size in conjunction with the hook size (from #12 down to #16 or even #18) and I started using more holo tinsel than the goose biots. I also tie a version without a bead.

One thing to also point out is that you must use some sort of epoxy or UV cure resin on this bad boy. The fly below was responsible for probably 10 fish, but it took a beating in the process. Without the UV resin, it wouldn't have lasted more than 1 fish.
UC "Before"

"UC" After

Material List:

Hook: Daiichi 1150  -- Buy Here --
Thread: UTC Ultrathread 70 Denier, Black  -- Buy Here --
Bead: Tungsten 2.4mm to 3.2mm, Black Nickel.  -- Buy Here --
Body: Stripped Peacock Eye Quills  -- Buy Here --
Wing Pads: Holo Tinsel, Orange, Med.  -- Buy Here --
Coating: Loon UV Clear Fly Finish, Thin  -- Buy Here --

Yet another big fish eating smallish chironomids


  1. Curtis, try tying chironomid patterns using the HMG Fly Systems hot melt glue...extremely durable and reduces timing time.

    1. This natural quill body is really hard to beat when it comes to natural blends of color. I was fishing right next to Curtis during the making of this post, and his fly outproduced my flies by far. The only thing I could attribute it to was the natural quill body.

  2. Cheech,

    Here is a video of a HMG pattern that has been productive for me. You can tie this in a variety of colors and sizes.

  3. Sorry about it being private. It is on the dvd I sent to you. Try it now.

  4. Can't beat stripped quill bodies. Look at the fly compared to the natural- kinda hard to pick one apart. Body is perfect.

    I'll be adding this to the box for sure guys.

  5. Good morning. What size Holo Tinsel is recomemended for a size 14 UC? S, M, or L?