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The Griffith's Gnat

The Griffith’s Gnat. Sometimes it’s as if this great fly is overlooked as anglers reach for a more hyped dry fly like a  Caddis or Blue Wing Olive.  I’ve found the Gnat to be productive when other flies just aren’t working  — both on tailwaters like the Uncompaghre and freestones like the Roaring Fork.  Do you have a Griffith’s Gnat in your fly box?


The Griffith’s Gnat was created by George Griffith, one of the co-founders of Trout Unlimited. Griffith organized the first meeting of TU at his cottage, “The Barbless Hook,” and was a lifelong conservationist. He died in 1998 at 97. Griffith and the other founders made a plan to unite the angling community around a common purpose: to take care of the wild and native trout and salmon we all enjoy and appreciate.  You can read more about The Griffith’s Circle on the Trout Unlimited Website.


“The natural resources we love can and will respond to us with equal love.”  

                                                                                  — George Griffith


griffith's gnatThe Griffith’s Gnat is a versatile little guy.  It can imitate a midge cluster of mating flies or an adult single midge – depending on size.  I have fished it when trout have been finicky and unresponsive to BWO patterns, and I want to give them a look at a different pattern.  It works well as a second fly, trailing off of another dry.  Fish seem to like it in slower, flat water and riding low in the foam.    


Tying the Griffith’s Gnat

Charlie Craven, renowned tier, says he “prefers to tie mine with somewhat undersized hackle, to let the fly sit lower in the surface film. I often trim the hackle on the bottom of the fly flush to the body to further this low posture. This is truly a great fly for our western midge hatches and is a very simple pattern to tie.”  You can see Craven’s recipe and instructions for tying the Gnat here

dorsey recipePicture and recipe here from Pat Dorsey’s

book Colorado Guide Flies. 


Videos for tying the Griffith’s Gnat:


Orvis video:


Come into the Shop and check out our fly tying supplies! 



  1. Bob Fornadley on September 22, 2021 at 8:28 am

    I have been an avid passionate fly fisher for 58 years.Fairly recently I was re-introduced to the “Griffith’s Gnat”, a fly I first saw and used in my teens yet had not touched it since , till now.
    On a very good wild brown trout stream, that I will not name, in Eastern Pennsylvania, I was told to use the “Gnat” in size #20 and I have found it to be an absolute killer when all other dry fly offerings fail. I found , at first, that this fact was hard to believe.The fly is incredibly simple to tie but floats high and wild browns will readily take it when all else fails. I would have never believed it until I fished it.I won’t leave home in a trip again without it.

  2. Paul Barci on April 3, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    I was probably fishing the very stream you are talking about just yesterday. There was a mix of BWO , cream and black midges and then clouds of tiny micro midges hovering on the surface. I paired a 20 black midge dry with a 20 Griffith’s Gnat and did well. I also used a soft hackle bwo which almost always produces when that fly is hatching.

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