May Fly of the Month: Christmas Tree Chironomid

May Fly of the Month: Christmas Tree Chironomid

Chironomid fishing on stillwater throughout the world has achieved an almost cult like status these days.  There are over 2000 species of chironomids in North America alone and, it would seem, an equal number of fly patterns to mimic them.  The good news is that one can often experience pretty successful fishing with just a handful of favored chironomid patterns in a variety of sizes and colors.  The true fanatics will have rows upon rows of svelte pupae with red ribs, silver ribs, black ribs, double ribs, every color on the spectrum, some multi-hued, some flashy, some dull and so forth.  A lot of days when the trout are heavily and happily feeding, a whole bunch of different patterns in the right general size will get the job done.  Other times, it's that one fly continually resulting in a bent rod and another hefty rainbow to hand, leaving fellow anglers on the lake to contemplate what is the magic ticket?  The good news about most chironomid patterns is that they are incredibly quick and easy to tie, so if you enjoy lake fishing and want to be well-prepared you can fill up a box or five with everything but the kitchen sink to reduce the chances of ever being caught off guard.

The Christmas Tree has long proven a useful pattern when you see olive or green colored chironomids emerging.  It also incorporates a couple of commonly effective elements you'll find in a lot of chironomid flies.  One is the red rib.  Chironomid larvae (aka bloodworms) retain hemoglobin in their bodies to store oxygen which gives them a reddish appearance.  When they pupate, this residual hemoglobin often shows up in the tip of their abdomen or as red bands of segmentation.  The other key element is the sparkle of the Krystal Flash body.  When chironomids emerge, they inflate their bodies with gases which ultimately buoy them to the lake's surface.  These gases create a shiny, reflective look that trout seem to notice.  You can tie the Christmas Tree in a variety of ways.  I'll often use a pearl white brass or tungsten bead for the head to fish deep under an indicator.  It's good to have some lightly weighted or unweighted patterns as tied in the video however, since sometimes you want to be fishing just subsurface or fishing on a long leader and no strike indicator so that you can cover more of the water column on a single presentation.

There seem to be two camps within the lake fishing community: those who fish chironomids and those who do not.  As with any type of fly fishing, I advocate being well-versed in as many techniques as you can.  You can always choose to fish those methods that are most enjoyable to you, but there will be days when being willing and able to effectively fish chironomids will make the difference between having an exceptional day of catching trout or driving home with few fish to hand.


Christmas Tree Chironomid Recipe:
Hook: #14-18 Daiichi 1120



The Confluence Beer Pairing:  When I'm not drinking local Bellingham beer (or just plain old Rainier) I've long been a fan of Georgetown Brewing in Seattle.  This month's pairing is their Warchild IPA, if for no other reason that I had the epiphany at Speyapalooza that Georgetown had named several of their beers after characters in the 1991 classic film "Point Break".  I know...I am probably one of the last folks to come to this realization.  Needless to say, Patrick Swayze's character in the film, Bodhizafa would have probably been a chironomid fisherman, where's Keanu's Johnny Utah more likely just dragged a Woolly Bugger around the lake.  Anyway, Warchild is really good if you like super dank IPA's.  Now I can't help but wonder if there will be an Agent Pappas beer in Georgetown's series coming out at some point.

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