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A Semi-Translucent Wing Makes a Difference
Steve's Tips for the Curious Fly Tier
#1 GET WET
I look at materials when they are wet, before I tie them on the fly.
Oftentimes, wet materials take on a much different appearance than when dry. When tying, I always have a clear drinking glass with some water in it nearby. I wet materials and drop them in the glass, looking at how they change. And I look at how they move when I swirl the water in the glass. This oftentimes makes me change the color of the material or sparks an idea on how to use the material more effectively in a fly pattern. Such is the case with the foam and the PeeMew Midge.
#2 PULL THE TRIGGER
I look at bugs NOT from an entomological point-of-view, but from a 'features' point of view; where I want to imitate what I think the trout is seeing.
When I tie or design a fly, I try to mimic the bugs I see in the rivers I fish. This is not to say I don't fish Adams or Royal Wulff's, but most of the time I try to give the fish something they are looking for. I try to imitate FOUR things when tying: Size, Shape, Color & "The Trigger".
What's the "trigger"? It's that one ultra feature of the real insect that may tell the trout your fly is the real thing and not just another cute pattern from the local fly shop. In the PeeMew, I think it may be two things: the subtly segmented body and the translucent wing. In the Tabou Caddis Emerger, I think it's the gangly legs and overall ugly shape of the emerging caddis. Whatever the case, look at the most popular imitative patterns on the market today and I'll bet you'll see the fish "trigger" that makes them so successful.
Before we get started, let me give credit where credit is due. The PeeMew Midge got it's name from the phonetics of the acronym PMEWE, which stands for Poudre Midge Extended Wing Emerger. It's really an adaptation of the Poudre Midge Emerger (PME), a fly tied by good friend and extremely innovative fly tier Mark McMillan of Ft. Collins, CO. After hearing about the great success Mark and others were having with his very productive fly, mainly on the Cache la Poudre River in Colorado (da Pooder), I decided to tie a few for my box. But, like most situations when I sit down to tie a pattern, I didn't have the right materials at-hand. So I improvised, following the footsteps of Mark himself (he'd be proud of me!) I didn't have any white foam to tie the real PME, so I improvised and used some thin translucent closed-cell foam sheeting I had stuffed in my travel tying kit.
While I was messing around with the thin foam in water, I noticed it becomes slightly more translucent underwater and doesn't have that semi-opaque white look like when dry. The light bulb went off in my head. Instead of tying a small post of foam as in the original PME, I thought the foam would make a better emergence wing, being more extended. So I experimented. What came about is the PeeMew Midge, marrying Mark's PME olive thread ribbing concept and my closed-cell sheet foam idea.
I still use the PME when midges aren't emerging; the pattern is deadly. But if I see midges coming off, I'll switch to the winged version, the PeeMew. Both flies have a permanent spot in my midge box. As you tie this fly, don't hesitate to get creative yourself...make the body red, or cream, or grey...midges come in all sizes and many striking colors. Tie this pattern to match the bugs in the waters you fish!
|Hook||#18 - #24 curved scud hook|
|Body||black thread base with olive thread ribbing|
|Wing||closed-cell sheet packing foam|
|Head||super fine dubbing (I use midge-class SLF or natural muskrat)|
Locate some translucent closed-cell packing sheet foam. I found mine from the packing inside some computer equipment I purchased, but most all electronics stores now throw this stuff out by the oodles. Just go to a local Big Box computer store and ask them for their trash!
Cut inch-long strips about 1/8" wide for #18 and #20 size hooks, thinner for smaller flies.
Tying the Body
(step not shown in pictures)
Tie in a piece of olive thread, size 6/0, at the bend of the hook. Wrap the hook shank with black thread and palmer the olive thread forward to the eye of the hook over the black thread base; tie off. Place the thread about 1 hook-eye length back from the hook-eye itself.
Prepare the foam wing by cutting very thin strips of closed-cell packing foam.
Placing The Wing
Double over the foam strip and place on the hook shank as shown in the first picture to the right. Hold the foam in place while you tie, as shown in the second picture.
Size up the foam strip before tying it in place.
Place the foam on the top of the hook and hold in place while tying in.
Dubbing the Head
Tie the foam in with a few secure wraps, trim the excess and dub on just a tad of black dubbing.
Allow enough space for dubbing a small head and whip finish to complete the fly. Shown here is the amount of space I leave for the dubbed head on a #18 hook.
Finishing the Fly
Tie off and trim the foam wings equal with the barb-point on the hook.
A finished PeeMew Midge takes only a minute to tie!
Slippery When Wet
Notice how translucent the closed cell foam gets when wet...neat stuff.
To make this fly more durable, add a coat of tying cement over the entire thread body just before you tie the wings on. I noticed that the body of this fly would unravel with only a few fish...but the darned wing stayed on.
When wet, the PeeMew Midge is pretty convincing.