How To Fish Buzzers For Trout

Techniques for Buzzer Fishing
Whether it’s the tightening of the line loop between rod tip and water, an indicator ducking under the surface or the brutal ‘line ripping from your fingers’ – the ‘take’ is undoubtedly the most exciting aspect of our sport. It is especially true when Buzzer fishing, and for that split second of the take, all of life’s worries get replaced with that anticipation of a hooked fish!

There’s a great sense of achievement having fooled a trout with a natural - although sometimes not so natural looking imitation. We’ve fooled the fish rather than winding it up so that it attacks out of sheer aggression. So what’s a buzzer?

What's a Buzzer?

Midges, the little buzzy things that we see around water are nicknamed buzzers. The lifecycle of the Chironomid, its proper name, is quite simple. Their early days are spent burrowing in fine silt and mud on the lakebed (bloodworm) when they are coloured red to green. But water temperature and sunlight prompt them to start a precarious ascent to the water’s surface. These are called the ‘pupa.’ The pupa kick and buck by flicking their abdomens, making their way up through the water column until reaching the surface. Having broken through the surface tension, the pupa sheds an outer skin called a shuck and breaks the surface as an adult insect complete with legs and wings. These are seen around water.

Chironomid or Midge Larvae
The best chance to catch trout on Buzzers is during the pupa stage. Trout have relatively easy pickings, and with such an abundance of the juicy naturals around, Trout can be preoccupied with them. It is very common to seeing Trout spewing pupa from their mouths when you attempt to retrieve your fly.

Chironomid Life Cycle

There are so many ways to fish Buzzers, but you need to do what works for the fish. You’ll hear time and time again that ‘no retrieve’ is the best retrieve when you’re fishing with Buzzers. But as with most ‘wise words,’ there are times when they just don’t hold true. It’s often a good idea to impart a little movement in your flies, a slight lift of the rod tip or a swift one-foot tug at the retrieving hand, can work wonders. Plus, doing nothing is nearly as dull as watching a bung!

Adult Midge

Floating Line, Straight Line Technique

It is not essential to fish with many flies, but three or even four Buzzers offers advantages. More flies creates more chances of catching but, with a fly spaced at intervals on your cast, you have a fly at all depths. More flies also provide the ability to get everything down deeper – more flies, more weight.

Fishing with 3 Buzzers

Whether you’re fishing two, three, or four flies, it’s crucial to get the presentation right as soon as they land on the water. On every cast, make sure flies turnover properly. Start fishing with a straight line, so that all takes can be felt. If casts land in a heap, you’ll get tangles but, as they sink – with no line tension – a fish could take and eject your fly without you knowing.

Fishing with a Bung and 3 Buzzers
Contact is crucial! If your flies don’t land in a perfect line in front of the fly line, then draw the line taut until you feel that they’re falling through the water, correctly. This will ensure you will feel takes.

The distance you’re able to cast has a bearing on the depth your flies fish. If you cast only 10 -15 yards, your flies won’t have time to sink to a great depth. It’s hindered even more by a strong sidewind, blowing line and keeping your flies up – this can be a hindrance during early season when trout are on the lakebed. So, to get deep, cast long and fish flies slow.

Fishing with 4 Buzzers

Distance of Cast & Depth

Always be mindful. If you get takes straight after casting out then the trout are obviously high up in the water and so short casts are all that’s needed. You may also want to get a speedier retrieve working, again keeping the flies up.

Reservoir Trout Fishing

Mix up the Retrieve

It’s a myth that Buzzers should be fished static. This can often be the case, but you can have success when moving them on the retrieve. Try a short draw on the line followed by a steady figure-of-eight…then a long pause. Remember, the faster you retrieve, the higher in the water the flies will fish. The stop, during the retrieve, is crucial to allow the flies to drop back into the depths. It’s also when many takes occur as not many trout can resist a fly falling vertically past their noses.

Selection of Buzzer Patterns

Floating Line & a Bung

You can use the bung. It’s simple to use, and it lets you change the fly spacing, that’s about it. Cast it out, and if the bung goes under, strike. You may want to twitch the bung making the Buzzers rise and fall below it.

Fario Fly Bung

Sink Tip, Straight Line

An excellent way to fish Buzzers at depth is with a sink-tip line, the point of which sinks below the surface, so you have a better connection with the flies.

Placing your heaviest Buzzer on the top dropper gets flies deep fast. The heavy top dropper and the sink-tip pull the other flies down at an angle. For some reason, this angle can be effective.

Cortland Sink Tip Fly Line
The heavy top dropper hinges the cast, pulling the other flies down at a steady, even pace. It also acts as a bolt rig, fish taking the higher Buzzers are pulling against the heavy Buzzer and the subsurface tip section of your line, so trout hook themselves!

Sink Tip, Hedge your Bets

This method is similar in many respects, but you’re increasing your chances of catching by enticing fish in to see what the fuss is all about. I prefer to do this with four flies. On the point goes a small but bright Booby or FAB to pull the fish in. Above it on the dropper goes a very heavy Buzzer, just to keep the buoyant fly down there, then two standard Buzzers are placed on the droppers above. For water between 12 and 18 foot deep, this is such a good way of fishing.

Get them Deep

Conditions and fish location might dictate that Buzzers must be fished deep. In these situations, you should change your leader set-up radically. Increase the length of leader from fly line to the first dropper to 10-foot and reduce the distance between flies to three feet. This way the team works better and sinks freely due to the additional line between fly-line and first dropper. But the key to fishing Buzzers is to think how your patterns will work together as a team and not as individuals!

The Washing Line Technique

When conditions are favourable, the washing line technique can be deadly. This technique involves fishing with a point fly, such as a booby, with nymphs or buzzers on the droppers. By altering the density of the fly lines, this will essentially allow your buzzers to fish in the killing zone for much longer.

Where the fish are feeding will determine the optimal depth to fish your buzzers. For example, if trout are feeding just under the surface, use a floating fly line such as a Wychwood Connect Series Rocket Floating Line so that your buzzers will 'hang' near horizontally between the booby on the point and the floating line. Alternatively, if fish are feeding deeper down, use a sinking line of varying densities to find the feeding zone.

Washing Line with a Floating Line
When fishing a sinking line with a booby on the point, the buzzers will get pulled down by the line and the floating booby will 'hold' the buzzers in a vertical hang. And if you give you fly line a tug or pull, the booby will pull the buzzers up in down - a deadly technique.

Finally, when fishing with Buzzers, an important consideration is the diameter of leader material you use. This plays a huge part as to how your flies fish in the water. Some recommend using co-polymer tippet when fishing higher up the water column or subsurface. For deeper work, Fluorocarbon is very effective. It's invisible, heavier, and has a lower diameter.

So fishing with Buzzers is a fantastic method of fishing for Trout.  There is always that element of surprise.  The takes can be aggressive, and watching the line straighten out suddenly can give you a wake up call!

And if you would like to try Buzzer fishing, don't forget that fishingmegastore has all the fly fishing tackle you need for a great days trout fishing.  Alternatively, if you would like more advice on choosing the right set-up, call us on 0141 212 8880 and one of our expert staff will be glad to help.

This article was brought to you in association with Trout Fisherman Magazine.