During the winter months surface activity is sparse at best. Typically if the weather takes a turn for the best and warms up to 50 degrees or higher trout will start surface feeding on midges. Usually by midday the feeding starts and may last only a few hours. During these glimmers of activity I'm usually running outside and looking towards the sky like an angst-ridden teenager. The fly I usually leave the house with is a little black midge that I call the “Harlequin Midge”. This is a pattern I developed that seem to move fish that are in stasis mode and that have zeroed in on those little black midges we see so often throughout the winter months. Why the name “Harlequin Midge”? Well it takes a bit more animation and drama to get fish to move during the winter months. The extended body and and dyed pheasant tail legs seem to be a deadly combination. I tye this fly fairly sparse and use 14/0 Veevus thread to lighten the load. Sparse is always better for dry flies during the winter, this is because midges are pretty much the only thing on the surface menu.
Thread: Veevus black 14/0
Body: Micro Chenille tip burned with cigarette lighter
Legs: Knotted black Pheasant tail
Wing: TMC Aero Dry Wing in gray or white
Hackle: 3-4 turns of light dun
For sporadic surface activity trout seem to really like this combination during the late fall and into the winter months for me.
~Clint Joseph Bova