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Black Gnat Dry Fly Imitation for Dance Flies

May 28, 2019 2 min read

Written by by Dave Southall

Using Black Gnats for Trout feeding on Dance Flies

Dance Flies are two-winged flies (Order - Diptera and members of the Family - Empididae). There are many species, some of which swarm in vast numbers over water in search of their prey. It is their somewhat erratic, dancing, flight that gives them their common name. Their other common name is Dagger Flies because they have a long, curved, sharp proboscis with which to feed on their prey (other flies), which they often take them from the water surface. The males offer a captured prey item to the female during courtship. Sizes range from 5 to 15mm (mostly around 7mm long) and colour varies from yellow to black (mainly dark brown and black). They have a slim abdomen, fat thorax and small head.

Expect to see good numbers of them ‘dancing’ in sunny spots that are sheltered from any strong wind any time during the summer. I find that a size 18 Black Gnat  works as well as any other fly when trout are taking the occasional casualties that drift down below a hunting/mating swarm or those that are in the act of capturing a prey item from the river surface (I’ve even seen small trout jumping to take them in flight).

Dance Flies swarming in a sunny, sheltered spot

Dance Flies swarming in a sunny, sheltered spot

 Trout that succumbed to a Black Gnat when feeding on Dance Flies

Trout that succumbed to a Black Gnat when feeding on Dance Flies


Size 18 Black Gnat / Dance Fly

Size 18 Black Gnat / Dance Fly

 Hook: Size 18 dry fly

Thread: Black 8/0

Body: Fine black or dark brown synthetic dubbing

Wing: White poly yarn

Hackle: Black cock clipped off at the bottom (& top clipped if you want a more visible wing whilst fishing)

This video is 1 of 94 casting tutorials explaining everything from basic set ups to master level casts

Fundamentals | Starting to Fly Cast

The basics of tackle
Language of casting
Sensory awareness


Fundamentals | Understanding Fly Tackle

Fly line weights, lengths & tapers
Rod lengths & weights
Leaders & tippet
Tackle to practise with


Fundamentals | Overhead Casting

How to hold a fly rod
Circles 8's & straights
Remove all slack
Plane of the Cast
Triangle Method
Overhead Cast
Stop & Drop
Retrieving the Line
High Back Cast
Breaking The Wrist
Shooting the line
Loop Shape
Slipping the Line
Stroke Length
The Forward Delivery
The Shelf
Drift Versus Breaking the Wrist
Backslash Forwardslash
Speed Ramp
Body Movement


Fundamentals | Double Haul

Intro to the Double Haul
Tackle for the Double Haul
Single Haul
Double Haul
Double Haul Fast Track
Cast Trajectory
Late Haul
Hauling Grip
Double Haul for Accuracy
Line Trays
Offset Alignment Guides


Fundamentals | Taking it to the Water

The Lift
Pick Up & Lay Down Cast
Roll cast
Energy of a Roll Cast


Advanced | Spey Casts

Intro to Spey Casting
Switch Cast
45 Degree Single Spey
Backhanded Cast
90 Degree Single Spey
90 Degree Snake Roll
45 Degree Snake Roll
90 Degree Double Spey
The Running Mouse
The Silent Spey
45 Degree Double Spey
45 Degree Snap T
90 Degree Snap T
45 Degree Circle Spey
90 Degree Circle Spey
Body Movement
Spey Cast Hauling
Beating Obstructions Spey


Advanced | Beating the Wind

Tail Wind
Head Wind
Side Wind


Master | Mends

Upstream Downstream Mends
Curve Mends
Reach Mends


Master | Pick Ups

Corkscrew Pick Up
Snap Pick Up
Roll Cast Pick Up
Double Spiral Pick Up
Snap Pick Up Variation
Aerial Spey
Cast Stringing


Master | Accessory Casts

Casting Big Flies
Feed Cast
Free Snag Cast
Snap Cast