The history of the Black Gnat is at best vague with no known original fly tier, which is a great shame, although its country of origin can be honestly attributed to the UK. This fly has been gracing anglers fly boxes for well over a century and has proved itself a reliable and effective fly. Although called a Black Gnat, the fly's body is not actually black at all, but a very dark olive brown. The female is of a slightly lighter hue but there is little difference between the two.
During the hatching season, these flies fall or get blown on to the water surface whilst swarming, becoming a regular food supply and trout love them. During the hot and humid weeks of July/August, the Black Gnat remains a firm favourite of mine for both stream and river fishing. Used either in wet or dry form, trout seem to be extremely attracted to their size, shape and colour.
The season of hatching midges (Spring to end of season) makes this fly become a very popular choice for the angler as they are known to be killer fly to hungry fish. I have also used this fly on many occasions outside of midge season with varying degrees of success.
Gnats hatch in prolific numbers, breeding on land but spending the best part of their lives (7-10 days), in the vicinity of ponds, rivers, streams and lakes. They can often be seen in great swarms over slow moving and shaded water and fish will rise readily to take their fill. The main reason for swarming is for males to find females and vice versa for mating, and they can stay for prolonged periods in the same position which is a bonus for anglers. Often seen in sunlit areas in order to amplify their attractiveness to both sexes, these gnats have little on their mind other than breeding, and seem oblivious to the danger that lurks below them. At times like this, a gnat pattern fished dry or wet will bring great results.
There are several different species of black gnat flies and all are taken prolifically by trout, all season round. You can fish them static or on a floating line with a varied retrieve, always use a fine leader. Try it when there does not appear to be any surface action, as it will be the one source of food that the trout are constantly on the look out for. If fish are not being fully cooperative on a full dry fly, a small trick that I learned many years ago, is to trim back on the lower hackle, allowing the fly to sit lower on the water surface, I have been pleasantly surprised by the difference it can make. I never return a Gnat to the box without trying this little tip first. Tying the Black Gnat (Dry) Tying the Black Gnat is a simple affair, and I would recommend visiting www.diptera.co.uk/patterns/b/black_gnat_ti.html for a clear and concise method on how. Providing clear pictures and sensible comments at each stage of the construction as well as recommended materials. The Black Gnat is featured in our Dry Fly Collection. K…