Early Season Chironomid Fishing Tips

Big Fish Small Bugs

Colorado Cutthroat on a Chironomid
I'm often surprised by the reaction I get from people who haven't either fished chironomids on stillwaters or who didn't realize you can catch big fish on these little-ish bug imitations when they see the efficacy and size-producing results of fishing them.

With that said, I typically get right down to business busting out the chironomid boxes as soon as the ice comes off. That usually coincides with the first movement of the chironomid larva (blood worms) from the bottom of the lake as they look to migrate to the surface.

In this little clip, I explain a few tactics to handle these early season chironomid situations. Here's a summary of those tips:

1. Fish blood worms closer to the bottom to start off: If you don't see any actively hatching chironomids, keep in mind that at the larval stage, the bugs can still be quite active down in the mud and muck. I fish bloodworm patterns deeper to start off.

Pupating Chironomid
2. Rig Droppers to test depth and pattern types: If you fish just one pattern at a time, you're severely handicapping yourself. Rig a bloodworm as point fly and then you can rig one or two additional droppers 2 to 5 feet apart (up from the point fly) as the depth allows. I usually narrow in on the most effective patterns as well as the most effective depth by doing this. Switch those variables until you hit paydirt. I find that while bloodworms might work better earlier in the day, the fish move up the food chain towards the surface taking more pupa as they go.

3. Indicator or No? I'm a pretty dedicated indicator user. I like them because I can set my depth accurately and dial in where the fish are and what they're eating. (Side Note:, I'm becoming more and more swayed to the Loch style fishing methods that employ different line types and flies to adjust depth -- more on that in a future post). But for this example, I'm setting my indicator to allow the flies to drop with the bloodworm a foot or less from the bottom and the droppers up from there. I then adjust the indicator level to match when I'm getting fish.

Here are some patterns and other useful info:

Anyway, that's the long and short of it for this little segment. Here's a quick video on how it comes together...