05 - Buzzer Fishing Tips

Buzzer Fly Fishing Tips & Top Patterns to Try
They are the number one fly hatch on stillwaters all over the world, but chironomid imitations (better known to you and me as “buzzers”!) take a little sussing out. So have you ever wanted to know how to fish buzzers like the experts? Here are a host of top tips from former England international fly angler Gary Pearson and fishing author Dom Garnett:
Go dark in the early season
Before waters warm properly and the huge hatches have yet to arrive, dark is the way to go with colours. Just like Henry Ford said about his early cars, you can have any colour as long as it's black! Big and predominantly black in a size10, or even an 8 can work well.
 Keep it simple, stupid!  
How many buzzers should you fish with? That depends on your expertise and the setting. When buzzer fishing on small stillwaters, a single buzzer is often enough. In most scenarios though, we would start off with a team of two from the bank, and a team of two or three from the boat depending on your confidence. 
Action on Devon’s Clatworthy Reservoir; on virtually all stillwaters, buzzers are the most reliable hatch of all.
How far apart should my flies be in a team?
If you are fishing with two buzzers, try them 6ft (1.8m) apart, or for three buzzers try 5ft (1.5m) apart. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that you’ll have quite a long leader! Why go to such lengths? Well, the longer the leader, the more natural the presentation and the greater range of depths you will fish. Think about it: if the leader is short or the flies are bunched up you won’t be covering as much of a range of depths.
Heaviest fly first
If you are fishing two or three buzzers, be sure to use the heaviest buzzer on the “point” at the very end of your leader. This will help the flies land in a fairly straight line, reducing the risk of tangling. When you need to get them right down, try a well-varnished epoxy buzzer or perhaps even a bead-head buzzer (above) on the point.
Don't get lazy with droppers! 
If you change flies a few times, your dropper length may start to shorten. If it gets too short, presentation will suffer, so don’t be afraid to make up a new leader if you have to. Optimum dropper lengths for buzzers should be around 4-7 inches (10-18cm).
The wind is your friend
Although nobody enjoys fishing in a gale, a decent breeze is often the buzzer angler’s best friend. A nice ripple will help move your flies effortlessly, covering water and making the fish less spooky. If you can manage it, try and pick a spot with a nice steady wind; or on small lakes, go for the end where the prevailing breeze is pushing in. You can guarantee that hatching buzzers will be pushed into this area too!
Keep the rod low and steady   
Keep your rod tip still and no more than a foot off the top of the water when fishing buzzers. If you have it too high above the water, you’ll miss bites. The same applies from the bank or when buzzer fishing from a boat.
Fish your buzzers as static as possible! 
That means you should only be retrieving the slack line that forms between the reel and the buzzers; you should be doing this constantly but as slowly as possible. The wind and waves will do more than enough to give your flies “life”!
If you are doing this correctly, the line between the rod top and the water will act like an old-fashioned coarse fishing swing-tip indicator and you will see the bite way before the line tightens at your fingertips. Time to strike!
Strong, sinking leader materials
Don't fish below 8lb fluorocarbon or nylon when fishing buzzers unless you want to get broken off more times than not. Fish slow and with confidence because when the fish are in the mood you will never get a more positive take than when fishing buzzers. Click here to see our range of leader materials.
Match the hatch or ring the changes?
Like so much of fly fishing, getting it right with buzzers is about sussing out what the fish want on the day. Keep your eyes peeled for real, hatching buzzers as a guide; they come in various sizes and shades, from large and black, to tiny and olive or tan.
Generally, a finding a rough match will help. That said, sometimes in a heavy hatch a fly that stands out from the crowd is worth a go, such as a brightly coloured buzzer or one with a more pronounced hotspot.
Don’t just try buzzers for rainbow trout! 
Buzzers are not only for stocked rainbows; wild browns love them too! Even the most acidic, moorland lake will have small buzzers in their thousands and skinny modern buzzers can work a treat. This is especially true when the traditional bushy flies aren’t working.
6 of the best buzzer patterns for sale at Flies Online
We sell thousands of buzzers every year here at Flies Online. Here are six that our customers catch especially well on (from L to R). We’re especially pleased with the amazing quality of the finishes on these flies. We stock a huge range from just 50p a fly!



Claret UV Epoxy Buzzer with Orange Hotspot £0.60

Lovely slim profile, while the combination of UV rib and just a hint of orange is a killer combination.

Green UV Epoxy Buzzer £0.60

Sometimes a colour change is just what’s called for. On other occasions and particular fisheries, green just seems to be the best colour!

Neon Quill Epoxy Buzzer (hot orange) £0.60

A fantastic combination of natural and loud, this pattern is a killer!


Neon Quill Epoxy Buzzer (yellow): £0.60

Another of our best selling buzzers; the quality of the finish on these has to be seen to be believed. The trout love them as much as our customers!


Slender profile and just a hint of dubbing make this fly an excellent choice for brown and rainbow trout alike. 
A touch of Hare’s Ear dubbing adds extra life to this great all-rounder.