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Zebra Chironomid Pupa Fly

... the zebra chironomid pupa fly easy peasy black & white chironomid pupa fly pattern!

Zebra Chironomid Pupa Fly Pattern (AKA Black & Thread)

Zebra Chironomid Pupa Fly Pattern …

Every year about this time I get to thinking about, anticipating, the upcoming open water season. This year was no different.  I forget where I was or what I was supposed to be paying attention to at the time, but I do remember that the particular reminiscing session I was having took me back to early ice off chronie fishing at Stump lake. It was a couple years ago and, although we were doing OK,  our friend Ron (Kamloops Fly Shop) and his buddy were anchored not far from us kicking our butts! When I finally got a chance to speak with Ron about what he was using that day he showed me a very simple black & white(ish) ribbed chronie with a black bead and no gill. From it’s appearance I immediately dubbed it the Zebra Chironomid Pupa.

UPDATE … I emailed Ron about this fly and he was kind enough to reply back with this write up titled the “Black & Thread”

Back at the beginning of my fishing life the first chironomids I had were black with white thread and a black and silver, naturally in those day’s we tied chironomids with wing case, peacock herl, and white ostrich. The BT is one of those first chironomids I used back in the late 70’s and had success. The beginning of my chironomid fishing; back then we used black floss for the body which would fray after a number of fish so we had to tie these chironomids in great numbers. These were the days before indicators when we used fiberglass rods and rimfly reels. Our equipment was antiquated but the fish were wild and jumped so much they would even throw barbed flies.

I still tie these flies, because they still work from time to time, but now I prefer to use a black bead or white bead. Today I use black stretch flex or black mini flat braid for the body. I like skinny chironomids and don’t bother tapering the body. Tungsten beads are my beads of choice, I like to use one size bigger than normal. A oversized bead that stands out more, and sinks faster; a white bead can also be used. In the old day’s white button thread made a good rib but you can use any white thread as long as it stands out. Use your favorite hook for chironomids, but a number of different hooks work; you can use TMC’s 2457, 2302,and 2499 SP BL in sizes from 16 to 10. Be sure to coat the fly with head cement or the coating of your choice. This fly can be fished much the same as other chironomids it’s just older. I have fished this fly shallow under and indicator anywhere from two feet to twenty feet deep the fly still works just ask Rob. Like I said I keep this fly in my arsenal as one of the many go to patterns to try, beside the fact that it reminds me of the early years of my fishing career.

My Recipe … Thread: Depending on the size of the hook black 8/0 or 6/0 Bead: I use bead sizes 7/64 or 1/8 tungsten black beads or white beads Gills: optional Hook: TMC 2457, 2302, or 2499 SP BL Rib: you can use and white thread but to make it stand out I will sometimes twist it Body: Use black stretch flex or black mini flat braid You can tie a wingcase type with peacock herl and white ostrich if you would like to try the old school method.

… Ron Thompson

Thanks Ron that was awesome!

The Black & Thread / Zebra Chironomid fly pattern is super simple to tie yet very effective … the perfect example of how less is sometimes more! We posted a picture of ours on the flyguys.net facebook page and very quickly received numerous requests for a step by step on how to tie it. It’s almost embarrassingly easy but here is how we put ours together …….

Zebra Chironomid Pupa Fly | Materials:

... all you need to tie the Zebra chironomid pupa fly!

  • Hook: Togens Scud #12
  • Bead: Togens Premium Black 3/32
  • Body: Tying Thread Black 8/0
  • Rib: Tying Thread White 6/0
  • Sheen: Krazy Glue


Zebra Chironomid Pupa Fly | Tying Instructions:

Start the zebra chironomid fly by placing a 3/32 Togens Premium black bead onto a Togens #12 Scud hook. If you would prefer to tie this fly bigger or smaller simply step the bead size up or down accordingly to match the hook size.

* Ron uses a 7/64 or even 1/8 bead on #12 hooks … and given the beating he put on us with it at Stump I think I just might start beading up! 🙂

... the Zebra chronie step 1!

Start the tying thread (black 8/0) onto the hook directly behind the bead …

... thevZebra chronie step 2!

Take the thread down to the bend of the hook and tie in the white 6/0 tying thread rib …

... the Zebra chronie step 3!

Wind the black tying thread back up the hook shank to just behind the bead forming a nice tapered body as you go.

* This is the fly body so take your time to make a nice flat tapered body.

... the Zebra chronie step 4!

Wind up the white 6/0 tying thread rib & lock it in behind the bead.

* This is the trickiest part of the fly as the thread fibers tend to want to  spread apart as the rib is being wound forward creating a sloppy looking rib that will appear very diluted once the clear coat is applied. To prevent this wet your fingers and spin up the thread between them before winding it up the hook. 😉

... the Zebra chronie step 5!

Whip finish to build up a nice thorax and cut off the tying thread.

... the Zebra chronie step 6!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, apply a light coat of krazy glue and let dry. Notice the nice blending effect the glue has on the rib/body!

the Zebra chronie step 7!


... the Zebra chironomid fly pattern!

Think the fishies might prefer a white gill on occasion? No problem, simply swap out the Togens Black premium for a Togens white premium in the same size ……. 😉

... the Zebra chironomid pupa white bead head fly pattern!

Zebra Chironomid Pupa Fly | How to Fish it …

... balck & white zebra chironomid fly patterns!Since being schooled with this fly a few years ago I now quite regularly start with it in most early ice off, shallow water (usually 10′ or less) fishing situations.This is not to say the Zebra chronie won’t work deep, I’m sure that it will, I simply haven’t had the chance to experiment with it much at the depths … yet 😉

The Zebra chironomid fly seems most effective hanging static under an indicator but there are times when a twitch here and there, or a slow retrieve, is necessary to elicit strikes. When presenting it static be sure to keep any slack out of the line to increase your chance of hook ups when they’re taking it softly.

Because the water is usually quite shallow a strike indicator is almost a must but I have had the occasional day with good success wind drifting it naked. When the fish prefer this presentation I have found the hits to be hard so hang on! Again, keep the slack out of the line during the drift.

So that’s the flyguys version of the Zebra Chironomid Pupa fly pattern. If you’re just starting to roll your own this is a great fly to start with! If you’re an experienced tier you should be able to hammer a bunch out in no time! Either way we hope this post gets you to the bench and ultimately out on the water and into some beautiful BC bows!

*** if you’re interested in custom tied, time tested & proven effective BC Interior fly patterns, but would rather buy than tie, please Contact us for details!

*** for more effective BC stillwater fly fishing patterns be sure to check out all of flies on our BCs best fly patterns index page!

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About krazy

....... fish, hunt, repeat!
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2 Responses to Zebra Chironomid Pupa Fly

  1. Gord says:

    Rob you really have to invest in some Clear Cure Goo…6 second drying time no pooling!

    • Avatar photo BCFlyguys says:

      Ya I know I know … will try to get on this soon would luv to tie up some of the go too’s with it to see if it makes a difference. It might take a bit longer but the flys will prob last a lot longer too!

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