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 fall, and move our way into 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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22 thoughts on “Fly Tying Material: DMC Embroidery Floss for Midge Patterns

  1. Great article! When I first started tying flies last winter, I tied midges using embroidery floss because my wife had some lying around but I didn’t really know what I was imitating- I was just making stuff up. Thanks for the recommendation on Midge Magic. It is now on my long wish list of books!

  2. Dude that’s a great use for DMC! I just use it for woven patterns but ill have tie up some midges like this for sure. I love how cheap this stuff is and how long it lasts. How often can you spend $5 on a tying material and have enough to tie hundreds of flies? Good stuff!

    • Justin,

      I wish I could see you when you go to checkout. I bet you will have every damn color 🙂 you fly tying fool. I’ll have to get you to show me your woven patterns with it.


  3. Great idea! I use that stuff all the time as a cheap way to build underbodies for for larger flies but I never thought to use it for midges…

    • Ron,

      That’s awesome. I’ve heard it as low as that before but I was afraid to quote it that way b/c I’ve had to pay a little more than a $1 a bundle in the past. Glad yo hear you picked some up 🙂


  4. I first observed Ed Koch using DMC many years ago & before he & Don wrote Midge Magic. A wonderful book on tiny stuff by a great talent. Sadly Ed has passed to his “LeTort” spring creek & Yellow Breeches in the sky. Ed was also a mentor to Bill Skilton, another great fly tyer from Boiling Springs, PA.

  5. Good article! One question though, how does color hold up when wet? I’ve always been a little leery of using cross-stitch floss without knowing if they were color-fast. Any idea on if they change or wash oiut?


  6. Kent,

    Some of my favorite midges are the usual Colorado and New Mexico stuff. Mercury Midges, Top Secret Midges, KF Emergers, Foam Back Emergers Desert Storms, and many more. The Foam Back Emerger is one of my favorites as it passes as a midge or BWO emerger. Keep up the great work!


  7. I really enjoyed the article and all the coments. I have been tying midge patterns in ernest for three years. They are great in the winter for trout and white fish. I use embrodery floss also. My new tying material has become rubber party balloons. They come in all the colors of the rainbow,are not expensive and the color does not change when the get wet. I cut the ballons in 1/8″ strips or what ever width I need then use them as if the were thread. Hackles tails ect. can be added also. It has been great fun

  8. Thanks for this great article and book reference. By marriage, fishing became a new lifestyle component. I’m glad now to open my sewing basket to help it all along for my menfolk. Thanks again.

  9. Great material for midges and there are ALOT of colors!! I am, however, apprehensive to use cotton thread (it’ll rot from water) without coating of uv resin, SH Hard as Nails, … . DMC also has a line of Satin (rayon; floats) threads and another line of polyester threads (doesn’t float) but not near the array of colors they have in cotton. Does anybody know which type of glue/resin would be safe to use on both rayon and polyester threads?

  10. UV resin which will help the floss from rotting or getting chewed up by trout teeth. Also it will always be the same color in your box and in the water. What are your thoughts and what resin would you suggest. Thanks for the article. Tightlines

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