Named for one of the founders of Trout Unlimited, the Griffith’s Gnat is perhaps the most popular midge imitation among fly fishers. The pattern’s namesake also holds a revered place in our sport’s history: On July 18, 1959, sixteen men gathered in the home of George Griffith, on the shore of the Au Sable River, and formed a conservation group called Trout Unlimited. You might have heard of it. There is some debate about whether or not Griffith actually invented this fly. Some say he worked on it with a friend, while others argue that Griffith had nothing to do with the process but that the pattern was simply named after him. Whatever happened, this basic fly catches trout, whether you want to imitate midges, midge clusters, or any other tiny insect. Like many great all-around patterns—such as the Elk-Hair Caddis or the Royal Trude—the Griffith’s Gnat fishes well both wet and dry. So after you’ve drifted it over a rise or good trout lie, let the fly swing below you, just under the surface. You’ll be surprised by how many takes you get with this method.
In this video, Tim Flagler of Tightline Productions offers his version of this very simple fly, which uses just three materials. Once you’ve seen Tim tie a Griffith’s Gnat, you should be able to sit right down and bang out a dozen yourself. And the next time you see fish rising to some kind of bug you can’t see, try drifting a Griffith’s Gnat.
Hook: Standard dry-fly hook (here a Dai-Riki 305), sizes 14-24.
Thread: Black, 70 denier or 8/0.
Body: Peacock herl.
Hackle: Grizzly hackle.
Head: Tying thread.