Griffith’s Gnat Fly Step-by-Step

Griffith’s Gnat Fly Step-by-Step:

For fishermen in south Louisiana, the mere mention of “Gnats” is likely to elicit a chill down the spine or a bout of phantom itching. Suffering through the biting swarms on a windless day in the marsh is almost a right of passage. We’ve all suffered through the itchy, red welts. And we’re all willing to take drastic steps to not find ourselves in the same situation again. Simply put, gnats and fishing are not a popular combination along the gulf coast.

In contrast, the term elicits a completely different response when mentioned on a trout stream or high elevation stillwater. There, the angler’s mind drifts to minute midges, rising fish and George Griffith’s tiny dry. Riding low in the surface film, the tiny dry mimics a cluster of midges and has proven effective nearly everywhere these minute flies are found.

Dry Fly Hook (Size 16-26) Veevus 12/0 (Black)Materials Peacock Herl
Saddle Hackle (Grizzly; sized to hook)

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Griffith’s Gnat Fly Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:

(Mobile Viewers: Click images to enlarge)

Tips and Tricks

  1. Herl Selection – When you’re dealing with hook sizes in the sub-20 range, selecting an appropriately sized herl can make or break the fly. The type of large, full herl that you might select for a size 10 or 12 Royal Coachman is simply too thick for a size 20 gnat. Instead, select a finer herl to avoid a bulky fly that just doesn’t look the part. Herl from the “Eye” of the peacock feather often work best for this purpose.
  2. Superglue – Sticking with the topic of herl, consider a fine coat of superglue along the shank of your hook before wrapping. Herl is notoriously fragile, and light coat of adhesive may help your fly last just a little longer on the water.
  3. 20/20 Vision – Admittedly a size 24 dry is hard to track on the water even for those with 20/20 vision. A day of doing so generally leads to a fair bit of eye strain. Not to mention the headache associated with numerous missed hook sets. To avoid both, consider fishing this pattern as the trailing fly behind an attractor pattern in a double dry rig. Alternatively, tie in a small hot spot before wrapping your hackle. I find white works for me when wearing polarized lenses, but a fluorescent orange or pink may also work.
  4. Substitutions – This one is a bit of a reiteration from other recent posts, but keep in mind: It’s okay to substitute materials. This hobby is expensive, especially when starting out. If you attempt to purchase the exact materials required for each new pattern, you’ll quickly go broke. Instead, consider substituting similar materials when possible. Though there’s not a lot to substitute in the pattern above, I did swap a light dun hackle for the prescribed grizzly hackle. We’ll see what the fish have to say, but I don’t think they’ll turn it down.

Proof of Concept

Admittedly, this is a classic that remains unproven in my books. I simply haven’t tied one on with any regularity when targeting trout. That said, a long weekend in the RMNP is right around the corner. With any luck this section will be complete before I’ve boarded my return flight. Until then…

Tight Lines!


Species Caught on the Griffith’s Gnat to Date:

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