Spring is no doubt one of the best times to fish chironomid patterns from ice out and well into the dog days of summer on higher elevation stillwaters. While the anorexic and trim chironomid pupa come in all flavors, hues and sizes, no chironomid fly box worth its salt is complete without a healthy collection of black patterns, many sporting a prominent red butt. Chironomid larvae, commonly known as bloodworms are often a deep red color from the hemoglobin stored in their bodies that helps them survive in oxygen poor reaches of the lake.
Quite frequently, emerging chironomid pupae retain a reddish hue from the residual hemoglobin, a feature clearly noticed by feeding trout as the pupae slowly rise to the surface during emergence. The Black Red Butt captures this effect quite well, with the loosely overlaid black thread body allow a bit of red to show through, lending an overall two-toned effect to the fly. Local tier Jack Salstrom gets credit for sharing this pattern with me and we've both tied it several ways using a variety of materials to different effect. The thread-bodied version is pretty simple and makes it easy to keep a thin taper to the fly, even on smaller patterns. I also have to thank him for showing me the Solarez UV resin used to coat the body for sheen and durability. This stuff is pretty darn tough and will withstand the rigors of catching lots of trout with little wear and tear to the fly. Most UV lights cure the Solarez I've found, which is an added bonus should you already own one.
Fish the Black Red Butt on a floating line with a strike indicator or naked (without an indicator but still fully clothed). Always, I repeat always use a non slip mono loop to attach this and other chironomid pupa patterns to allow them to hang and move naturally in the water. This is a great pattern to start with when you know there've been chironomids in the mix but you're still trying to dial in the size and color.
Black Red Butt Chironomid Recipe:
Bead: 3/32" Metallic Pheasant Tail Brown Bead
Hook: #14 Daiichi 1760 or Tiemco 2302
Gill: White Uni Stretch
Rib: Extra Small Copper Ultra Wire
Body: Red 70 Denier Ultra Thread/Black 8/0 Uni Thread
Finish: Bone Dry Solarez UV Resin
Confluence Beer Pairing: During one of our monthly tying sessions at Kulshan Brewing a while back, Brandon's little brother Jordan rekindled our interest in the Black and Tan. We thought it'd be a great complement to the multi-hued chironomid pattern featured this month. While you may have enjoyed a B&T along the way made with Guiness and Bass, Kulshan's version with their Good Ol' Boy Pale Ale and Dry Stout is pretty incredible. You can't get one pre-made outside of visiting the brewery, but you can pick up a growler of each and make your own to savor while filling your chironomid box.