Midge Magic

Reviewed by David Golobay

When you seine a river or lake, you invariably find larvae that are nearly too small to see. On further inspection, you might notice that these small species are one of the most numerous insects in your seine.

If you pump the stomach of trout you've caught, you may also find this species and begin to understand that this small insect is a staple of a trout's diet.

But how can something that minute be crucial to trout? And more importantly, how could one even conceive of tying a fly to duplicate these small species?

Midge Magic, by Don Holbrook and Ed Koch, is a scientific approach to answering that question. One of the authors, Don Holbrook, spent 25 years collecting, cataloging, photographing, and tying duplicates of these tiny insects. Holbrook takes his knowledge of the midge, which he attributes to his success as a fly fisherman, and lays it out for all to see. I especially like what he says in the introduction, "Fisherman are curious fellows when it comes to midges. Most won't fish them until they are convinced there is no other way to catch a trout at that particular moment".

This book, though scientific at times, imparts stories to coincide with his reason for tying a fly a particular way. The authors begin by revealing how they cataloged and photographed his specimens. He speaks of what kind of equipment you need to do it. He also instructs on how to properly handle and store specimens, while giving several methods on how to closely inspect the fly.

Holbrook and Koch use ten general classifications of midge imitations: Diamond, Rainbow, Clear Flies, Metallics, Size 24s, Beadheads, Shrimp Patterns, Topwater Patterns, Peacock Patterns, and Orphans. Each type of imitation has a story to go with the collection of the species and the author's success in fishing that pattern. In addition, each pattern has concise tying instructions.

I found these instructions to be easy to follow. The photographs are of good quality and helpful. The instructions gave me hope that even a novice fly tier such as I could have success tying small flies.

The only drawback of this book is that all of the species are from Pennsylvania. However, I feel the methodology and instruction of this book can be carried over to any stream or river.

Midges are a vital source of a trout's diet, so if you're a "trout bum" you will find Midge Magic valuable. It will help you catch large trout on small flies that you tied.