Chironomids are one of the most important food sources in stillwaters. They can represent 25-50% of the food source for trout, depending upon season. There are three stages to consider, the larvae, pupa, and emergers. Colors range in frequency from Black, Brown, Red, Tan, Green, and Cream. Many of the larvae will have a reddish appearance as they retain hemoglobin within the oxygen-poor depths. These larvae are often called bloodworms. The larvae are also quite larger than the pupa or emergers, sometimes up to two hook sizes. Generally, the largest chironomids will be during the Spring and will decrease in size through the Summer and Fall.
The Zebra Midge pattern is acclaimed to have orginated around the Lees Ferry area of Northern Arizona, along the Colorado River, by Ted Welling, a guide with Lees Ferry Anglers. It is very common throughout the Eastern Sierras and up into British Columbia as a Chironomid pupa pattern for Stillwater Lakes. Larvae patterns can be created by omitting the beadhead or by using a black microbead. The Olive Zebra Larvae is often used on the Lower Owens for a caddis larvae pattern.The emerger patterns will have a small tuft of Antron protruding from the bead and a herl or dubbed collar. The Zebra Midge is usually a thread body of Black, Red, Olive, Brown, and Gray color with a fine silver wire ribbing. It can have a beadhead of Nickel, Copper, Gold, Black, or a Glass Bead. Sometimes, there is no beadhead and a head of rabbit or beaver dubbing is created instead.