Bead-Head Zebra Midge: simple, yet effective

One pattern that I use a lot (and that I rely on heavily) is the bead-head Zebra Midge. I know, from experience, that this fly is deadly on the South Platte, and for me, it's second only to a Scud pattern in terms of big fish landed. It's a mighty little workhorse that is effective year-round, in all types of water conditions (I know some purists would disagree with that last statement, but we can agree to disagree).

No, it's not flashy like a Copper John, or as intricately tied as most dries - it's the working-man's version of an effective fly, and even Paris Hilton could tie one with little to no direction. I only put it up here now, being that the spring run-off is starting to kick in, and these flies are great for said conditions (see the May 2009 post Stormin' the River).

Aside from being fast and easy to tie, these little SOBs are resilient, too - easily absorbing an Ike Turner booze-induced thrashing, yet still able to perform when called upon. Plus, they can be fished just about any way you want: shallow or deep, slow or fast, it makes no difference. They're so versatile, it wouldn't surprise me if I turned on the TV and saw Billy Mays shouting and abrasively hawking these flies to non-anglers, who gobble them up at $19.99 a dozen for no other reason than Billy told them to.

While these flies do come in different colors, the pattern that I've found to be most effective on the South Platte is the olive variation - that's not to say the red or black (or other colors) are in-effective, I'm just saying I've caught more on the olive flies. For you two-fly riggers, this is a great dropper.

While dead-drift is the main objective, I've also hit some fish on the swing with this fly, so keep your wits about you.

As for sizes, I've found a #20 works well year round, so for the most part, that's the only size I tie. However a #18, #22, or even a #24, could work well, too. And if you're feeling really saucy, try the red/pink thread and clear tubing combo with a black bead...mull that one around in your brain-bucket for a bit.

And finally, if you've never had a chance to really fish this fly, and you decide to give it a shot - kick me off a message and let me know how it went.

Bead-Head Zebra Midge

Hook: #20 Tiemco 2487
Body: 8/0 Olive UNI-Thread
Head: 5/64 Tungsten Bead (Nickel)
Rib: BR Silver Ultra Wire

Step 1

Start by wrapping your thread behind the bead and clipping off the tag-end.

Step 2

Tie your wire onto the hook and begin tightly wrapping your thread towards the bend.

Step 3

Wrap the thread down to the bend of the hook.

Step 4

Now, work your thread back to the bead, building up a nice taper as you go.

Step 5

Once you've got your taper, apply some head cement to the body, and rejoice in the fact that by doing so, you've just offended every fly-tying purist out there with your 'over-use' of head cement. Now pat yourself on the back.

Step 6

Now, begin by wrapping the wire around the hook, towards the bead - on a #20 hook, you should come out with 5 turns. I would say 'evenly spaced turns' but as you can see from the picture, that's not always the case.

Step 7
Snap off your wire behind the bead and whip finish. At this point, you can use your dubbing needle, a fingernail, or Howard Stern's penis to readjust the spacing on your ribs (looks like I missed one!) and you're ready to drift that bad boy.

Some examples of the fish caught on a Zebra between January and April of 2009. There's several more pictures, but you get the idea, though.