Black Buzzers
Black and Green Biot Cheeks Buzzer

Fly Fishing Buzzers 

So it’s March 2021 and the season is almost upon us, all the winter waiting and preparing for this moment, the buying, tying of those key flies we want to fish.. Usually, the early season April to May sees the bigger hatches of buzzers and trout gorging on these. I’m going to talk about one of my favourite methods and also one early-season method that is truly inspiring, Buzzer fishing. The takes on fishing this method can be nothing short of savage and arm ripping.

As this is for beginners/intermediate anglers, I will try to keep it simple and to the point. Some of you may not have fished this method, some may not be aware as we all have our preferences and journeys in fly fishing and development. It would be easy to complicate this for the newcomers.

Like all forms and techniques, you can hypothesise and make it complicated, but it’s best to keep this simple and basic. 

Buzzers are a key part of the trout diets all season, they are the easiest fly to tie and fish. I love travelling to Rutland, Draycote and even Chew Valley for some early season Buzzer fishing. There are so many buzzer patterns that I have box loads of different variants, but some easy colours are Black, Quill, Olive and Red Buzzers that will not let you down.  

Buzzers make up a key part of the trout’s diet and this happens all year round, they can be quite diverse in colours and sizes a. So the angler needs to understand some key things about this type of fishing,

1-What are Buzzers?

2-When are they prevalent?

3-What colour and size?

4-Depth they are at?

5-How the trout feeding on them?

6-Buzzer movement/swimming?

What are Buzzers

An emerging form of a midge fly, usually just subsurface as they are about to emerge out of the water. Bloodworm is part of the cycle but is usually blood red and at the bottom of a lake. They move slowly to the surface changing colour, often black but it can be brown, olive or other colours.

These make up the bulk of the trouts food during the season .

When are they Prevalent?

As above, the early season can be prolific, around April to May as spring hits our lakes, the warmer weather encourages the hatches. But this also continues all year round and late august or September can also see massive hatches.

Colour and Size

There is so much variety that it is mind-boggling and often makes the choice of the buzzer to use very difficult. The basic colours are Black, Olive or  Red. Look at using the simple patterns, Black buzzer with yellow, sunburst, red holographic or chartreuse cheeks, Olive and Red with the same. The size also depends on the hatch but a good compromise is to have size 10 and 12 available.  Some times sz14 comes into its own and should not be discounted.

Plain Black Buzzer
Crisp Packet Buzzer


As always one of the key considerations for the anglers, find the depth and you will catch the fish. A good way for beginners or all anglers using the indicator or bung, which is afloat ,the advantage with this is that you can set the depth of your team of flies and adjust this as you go searching for the trout. 

Some Feeding signs

Whilst the trout can take the buzzers deep down near the bottom or buzzer or weedbeds. The visual when they are feeding subsurface is one of the most exciting sights. Trout sipping the buzzers just below the surface of just as they are about to break the surface. This gets the blood circulation going if you are a buzzer enthusiast.

Buzzer Movement

When you observe the buzzers swimming, they usually move slowly in a vertical or an angled direction towards the surface to break the surface and hatch into its midge form. The speed of movement tells you how slow you have to move the buzzers when fishing them.

Tips on how to fish Buzzers

Buzzer Example

A very connecting way of fishing, the takes are so savage that without using your full range of skill, it is easy to get smashed. The speed and savagery of the buzzer take are so addictive that most anglers introduced to buzzer fishing will always regard this as the preferred method. 

The buzzer season starts around April to May but extends right across the season as the buzzer hatches are more frequent during the moderate temperature months. You can see clouds of buzzers in their midge forms flying around the margins or near the shoreline.

The buzzer fly must be one of the easiest to tie but also one of the most productive flies in your tool kit.  

Usually fished on floating, midge tip or sink tip lines, the most preferred method is the floating line as you can control the depth better, although anglers do fish these on the sink lines-di3,di5 or di7. 

How do you fish buzzers?

Straight lining buzzers-this entails using a single or team of buzzers on the leader. The leaders can again be anything from a total length of 6ft, 10ft, 15ft depending on conditions or your preference. I usually fish mine 6ft, 3ft and 3ft apart (12ft leader). The team can also include a booby, fab or blob depending on conditions and your preference. 

Point Fly ,Droppers and Dropper set up?

The furthest fly from the fly line is called the point Fly, the other fly or flies, depending on how many you use are called droppers. The top dropper is the fly nearest to the fly line and the middle dropper is as it sounds, the middle fly.

The droppers (that are tied to the main leader), should be about 7inches to 10inches long and no longer to avoid knots and tangles.

Washing line- Set up with three flies (buzzers , nymph, blobs etc the point fly MUST be a buoyant fly, Dry fly, Booby or Fab)

This usually involves a booby fly at the point and the two buzzers at the top and middle dropper or if four flies then a booby is also used at the top dropper, buzzers at 2nd and 3rd dropper. The washing line enables the fly line and leader to slowly drift through the layers of the water, the buoyant the fly (Booby or Fab), enable the slow descent of the leader and flies through the depths. This method is excellent and one I fish as it allows the speed at which the flies sink in the water to be more controlled by the buoyant boobies or booby. This gives you more control over reducing the sink rate and hence ideal when you want to fish high up.

The usual lines used are floating or midge or sink tip lines, although the more advanced or competitive anglers use the sink lines too-Di3, Di-5 AND Di-7.

Fishing this method, the retrieve can be varied from static, twiddled or even jerky pulling (see straight-lining paragraph below for more info).

Straight Lining-3 fly Set up (3 buzzers, nymphs, blobs, any combination BUT no buoyant fly)  

This method is similar to the above in almost every way apart from the fact that it does not use a buoyant fly and hence it is not about slowing the flies through the layers but more about getting them down to the depth. As there is no buyoint Booby or Fab, the line will sink at a much faster rate. 

The ideal lines again would be floating, midge tip or sink tips and the leader make and length will be similar to the above. 

The best method for these has to be static, leave the flies along and just wait for that gut-wrenching take. You can also adopt the very slow retrieve, just keep in touch with the lines with minimal movement, stop after a few short movements. Other variations allow you to move the flies twiddled, slow, fast or even jerky pulling them. I usually find the static or slight short twiddles the best.

Indicator or Bung Method-Indicator(bung) with 3 flies that can include blobs but not buoyant flies

One of the more recent innovative ways of fly fishing and not for you purists out there. Arguably one of the most deadly methods of fly fishing, not just buzzers but any fly, from blobs, boobies or even lures.

The leader set on this can range for one fly, two flies, three or even four flies, hence the leader can be anything from 2-6 or deeper for one fly. Two flies set up again from 6 ft to 12 ft or more. The trick is to have the droppers and point fly in the fish feeding zone, so you can adjust this e..g. 4ft, 3ft, 3ft (10ft) for the usual three flies set up, top dropper 4ft from bung that is attached to leader some 4inches from the fly line, 2nd dropper, 3ft from first and 3rd another 3ft from the middle dropper. This can vary immensely and there lies another skill, e.g. 4ft, 4ft and 4ft (12 ft leader).

The best way is again to cast and leave static allowing the buzzers to work their magic as they sink through the water, if you don’t have any takes, you can try to induce some. This can be done by short, gentle 3-6inches pulls and stop again to allow the buzzers to sink, this mimics buzzers swimming and sinking through the water. I have seen people twiddle them back on this method and catch too.

I prefer the cast and leave mixed with very short gentle twiddle and leave alone once again.

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