Fly Tying Material: DMC Embroidery Floss for Midge Patterns

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Fly fishing with midges in the fall and winter can often be the ticket. Photo by Louis Cahill

As we work through the winter months, midges will start making up a higher percentage of a trout’s daily diet.

Midges may lack the high caloric value of their larger aquatic friends, but they more than make up for it with their year-round availability, and high densities on the water. Veteran trout bums understand the important role that midges play, especially as a mainstay food source for late fall and winter trout. Tiny midges don’t pack a lot of weight on trout, but they do supplement trout enough to help slow up winter weight loss, until the smorgasbord of food returns in the spring. If you went around and snuck a peak in as many hardcore winter trout bums fly boxes as you could find, most, if not all, would be stocked with a nice variety of midge patterns that imitate the three life stages of the aquatic midge (larva, pupa and adult).

The past month I’ve been bulking up my inventory of midge patterns. That way, I’ll be ready when the trout start consistently keying in on the tiny stuff. If you know your way around a vise, I suggest you take the time to do so as well. Most midge recipes are quick and easy to tie, and I promise, the time and energy you spend tying them up, will be paid back ten fold on the water. One of my favorite fly tying materials that you can find in your local craft store or Walmart for tying midge patterns is DMC (Six-strand) Embroidery Floss.  All I can tell you is I flat out love this stuff.


DMC color chart – Use the # to match fly pattern recipes in the book, Midge Magic.

midge-magicI first heard about DMC floss from the book Midge Magic, authored by Don Holbrook & Ed Koch. There’s a few things I love about this embroidery floss. One, it won’t break the bank at $1 or less per bundle. Two, it comes in  a crazy amount of color options, and three, one 8 meter bundle will provide enough ribbing to tie a gazillon midge patterns.

Some anglers tie midges as small as size 28 with this stuff, but I personally don’t go any smaller than a size 24. As Don and Ed recommend in their book, I use one or two strands in the six-strand bundles for the ribbing in my midge patterns. Try using multiple colors to get a nice two-tone look and more accurately match specific species of midges found in your waters.



DMC floss bundles you’ll find in your craft store. Photo by Kent Klewein

Pick some of this embroidery floss up, the next chance you get. I’m sure you’ll find it to be a great addition to your fly tying materials collection, and it will probably be a one time purchase. Before I go, I’d love to hear about some of your favorite fall and winter midge patterns. I’ve got a few slots left in my midge box that I’m looking to fill.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “Fly Tying Material: DMC Embroidery Floss for Midge Patterns

  1. Next to the DMC you usually find Artistle metalic floss. I use it in dark brown as the abdomin for my favorite wet fly. Add peacock Ice Dub thorax and favorite hackle, maybe a bead and you have a fly that puts you in the game 80% of the time.

    Great stuff.

  2. Some of those pickier fish in the western tailwaters require zero flash and thus sprung the invention of the Yong Special (created on the San Juan I believe?). It takes that DMC thread and does backing turns to create segmentation and finishes with a darker colored head. I know that during low water in the winter that fly does really well. Here is a link to the pattern:
    Add a strand of krystal flash for a collar to that fly and you have the “bling midge”.

  3. Midge Magic is probably the most important book on fly fishing I’ve ever read. Don and Ed have an easy writing style, and it’s loaded with great patterns down to sz32. Don is also one of the nicest guys in the game, always willing to help others, and devote his time to the PA Fly Fishing museum. Everyone should have it in their library.

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