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The Green Frog Chironomid

A spring morning several years ago, I got out of my tent after a short, cold night. The air still had a chill to it, but you could tell it was going to be another beautiful day on the water. The sun’s early rays shone through the surrounding forest, lighting our campsite as we sipped on our morning coffee ready to start the day's adventure. The float tubes were already inflated, our rods were set up and primed with searching patterns (the Copperhead Road Woolly Bugger) and we were prepared to piece together the fly fishing puzzle that lay before us. A quick camping breakfast consisting of a hot dog & a cold beer and we were well on our way.

The lake has a perimeter of tall green grass and bulrushes, beautiful shoal lines and drop off points you can see a mile away. Nutrient rich waters are loaded with aquatic insects and pesky loons. This particular lake is a fly fisher’s dream and one we’ve been going to since I was a kid.

The water had a bit of a windy chop to it and there was the occasional splash from a feeding trout. The water and air temperature was beginning to warm up and the bugs began to peel off the top of the water’s surface. It didn't take long for us to get into a few fish. Casting around the shoals and drop-off points with the searching pattern is an easy ticket for a tug on the end of the fly line (and I don’t mean catching a snag). I got the fish into the net, took a quick throat sample and released the trout back into the water. It was a nice fish, average size for the lake. The throat sample contained small green coloured Chironomids wiggling inside my little glass vial, today’s menu item revealed.

Green Chironomids in jar from throat sample while fly fishing
Photo Credit: Brian Chan

We dropped our anchors in about 12-15 feet of water and grabbed the Chironomid rods. We had to re-rig our leader set up by adding a few feet of fluorocarbon in order to get our fly a foot from the bottom. Matching the hatch was an easy selection, as there was only one fly pattern that stood out amongst the others, a shiny dark green Chironomid, which at the time was unnamed. We attached the forceps to the fly to measure the depth, set our indicators and gave our lines a cast. Before the fly even had any time to settle, the strike indicator had already disappeared. FISH ON!

The fish were hitting this fly fast and hard, one after the other. Bobber down… bobber down… bobber down. Beautiful Pennask Rainbows jumping out of the water acrobatically and going on long runs straight into the lily pads. The reels were screaming, we were laughing, our arms were starting to get sore, fish after fish. It is a day I will never forget. As we were sitting around the campfire, passing back and forth a bottle of whiskey in celebration of the day's success, we decided that we needed to come up with a name for this fly pattern that performed so well. Maybe it was the memory of the fish darting into the lily pads or perhaps the dark shiny green colour, or maybe it was the frogs that could be heard croaking as we sat around the campfire. Whatever it was, when I got home and tied several dozen more, the Green Frog Chironomid was born.

Fly tying materials for the Green Frog Chironomid


Hook: Daiichi, 1760 Size #18-12

Bead: 3/32” or 7/64

Thread: Ultra Thread, 70 Denier, Fl. Chartreuse

Gills: EP Fibers, White Polar Bear

Rib: Ultra Wire, Small, Silver

Body: Holographic Tinsel, Small, Olive

Durability: Either; Zap-a-gap, Krazy Glue, Resin or Sally Hansen’s Hard as Nails.

Green Frog Chironomid

Green Frog Tying Instructions:

1) Start by putting the bead on the hook, the larger ‘bead hole’ must go first. This allows extra room for the gills and gives the fly a clean tapered look once complete

2) Start your thread at the eye of the hook and form a small single layer base.

3) Tie in your EP Fibers, trim off the excess that overlaps on the shank of the hook and cover with two thread wraps, keeping your fly looking neat.

Fly tying EP fiber gills

4) Whip finish. Cut your thread and slide the bead up to the eye of the hook. Trim your excess EP Fibers so the remaining over-hanging length is approximately the same size as your bead and then reattach your thread behind the bead.

5) Building the taper is one of the most important steps. It’s crucial to keep the Chironomid body as slim as possible. Building a proper taper involves 5 steps within itself. (Remember to keep your thread as flat as possible so it doesn’t bulk up. Helpful hint: spin your bobbin counterclockwise to flatten the thread)

  • In a single layer, bring your thread wraps down to the middle of the hook shank and then return to the bead.

  • Next, bring your thread only 75% of the way of the first stage and return to the bead.

  • Next, bring your thread down only 50% of the way of the first stage and return to the bead.

  • Next, bring your thread down only 25% of the way of the first stage and return to the bead.

  • The final step in creating the taper is to mimic the first step and bring your thread to the middle of the hook shank and return to the bead. This process creates a simple and clean looking taper to the fly.

6) With two thread wraps, tie in your wire on the side of the hook shank that’s facing you. Get the wire as close to the bead as possible.

fly tying adding wire

7) While keeping the wire on the side of the hook shank, tie the wire all the way down the hook shank until you’re in line with the barb or the curve of the hook. Return your thread to the bead.

8) Tie in your holo tinsel using the same process as step #6. You can tie the holo tinsel overtop of the wire.

fly tying adding tinsel

9) Copy the process in step #7 and bring the holo tinsel and your thread down to either the barb or the curve of the hook. Return your thread to the bead.

10) Wrap the holo tinsel up the shank of the hook towards the bead in slightly overlapping wraps. Secure the holo tinsel down and cut off the excess.

wrapping tinsel for fly tying

11) Wrap the wire up the hook shank in open segments towards the bead. The goal here is to have seven ribs up the body of the Chironomid. Secure the wire down with your thread and ‘helicopter off’ the wire to get a clean break (cutting the wire off with scissors tends to leave behind a small piece of unwanted shrapnel).

wrapping wire for fly tying

12) Whip Finish, cut your thread and then brush on a thin coat of Zap-a-Gap which adds durability to your fly and adds a bit of extra sheen.

Green Frog Chironomid


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