Fly Tying April 2022: The V-Rib Chironomid

Chironomid Background Info—

Our April and May Fish A Longs will be on stillwaters and Chironomids are a top fly choice.

Check out the following link for some general information about midges and chironomids (midge pupae) taken from a previous CFF article.

The V-Rib Chironomid—
If you do some searching on the internet you will find all kinds of chironomid pupa patterns. And, surely, they all will work. But, as always, simple is a good place to start for a fly tyer. You will find using V-Rib (also known as D-Rib) for a body material will make your fly tying quick and fun. Winding V-Rib around the hook shank is quick and easy and gives the body of the fly a nice segmented look.

So what exactly is V-Rib? It is a translucent plastic material that comes spooled or packaged in ziplock bags. The “V” in V-Rib stands for “Vinyl” while the “D” in D-Rib describes the D-shape, or half-circle shape, the material has if you were to look at its cross-section. V-Rib comes in a number of sizes and colors. Hareline carries 16 colors in four different sizes from midge up to large while Ultra makes 11 colors. In general, the V-Rib (D-Rib) sizes are recommended to be matched up with the following hook sizes:

V-Rib Size/Hook Size
Midge / 16-20
Nymph / 12-16
Medium / 8-12
Large / 1-8

V-Rib Chironomid Recipe: (one of many variations)
Hook: 1X short scud hook; size of choice (usually 12-18)
Thread: 6/0 or smaller; color of choice
Gills: white antron
Head: Bead (optional) metal or glass; color of choice
Underbody: thread or flashabou; color of choice
Body: V-Rib; color of choice;
Thorax/Collar: peacock (optional)

Tying and Materials Tip: V-Rib comes in many colors, most of them translucent. By varying the V-rib color, and also the color of the thread or flash under the V-rib, you have an almost unlimited variety of shades of chironomids that you can tie. But don’t go too crazy and buy all of the available V-rib colors; red, black, olive, and brown are the ones most commonly used for chironomids.

The body of the V-Rib chironomids are sometimes first wrapped with a flash material like flashabou, followed by the V-Rib. The resulting shine in the body helps to simulate the gas that builds up in the pupa as it slowly rises through the water column. Examples of this are shown in the following photo:

V-Rib Tying Instructions: Refer to the following tutorials for four versions of V-Rib chironomids.
V-Rib Chironomid tutorial (olive chironomid)
V-Rib Chironomid tutorial (red chironomid with white bead and antron gills)
Chironocone (red V-rib sno cone chironomid; peacock herl thorax ); In The Riffle tutorial
V-Rib Chromie Chironomid (spacing the V-Rib wraps over flashabou underbody)

Chironomid Tactics and Strategies:
In stillwaters you can fish chironomid patterns under an indicator or let them sink near the bottom and then patiently simulate the pupa slowly rising to the surface by using a slower than slow hand-twist retrieve. When fish appear to be feeding just sub-surface, club member Lane Hoffman likes to grease all of his leader except the last six inches or so, thus leaving the chironomid pupa pattern suspended just under the surface. And don’t forget to try midge pupa patterns in streams, too. Dead drifting them tied off the bend of a larger nymph can be deadly. When the trout are feeding near the surface of streams, fishing them in a dry-dropper combination can be lots of fun.

If you are fishing your chironomids at depths greater than the length of your rod, landing your fish will be made a lot easier by using a “slip strike indicator”. Here is a helpful short video from In The Riffle:
Brian Chan and Phil Rowley, both noted stilllwater fishing gurus, have written extensively on chironomid strategies. Check out the following links for some great advice about fishing chironomids in lakes and ponds—
Brian Chan: Chironomid Fly Fishing Strategies (11 minutes; condensed basics)
Phil Rowley: Advanced Chironomid Tactics Class (1 hour 25 minutes; excellent info; technical glitches and less than perfect audio in places)

Some different examples of V Rib Chironomid Patterns. They are easy to tie and very effective!

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