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Krummy PMD Cripple
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Krummy PMD Cripple
By Bob Krumm, Sheridan, Wyoming

Tying and Fishing a Krummy PMD Cripple

A number of years ago I experienced the ultimate in frustration. I was guiding a couple on Montana's Bighorn River in mid-July. Towards the middle of the day an incredible hatch of pale morning duns (Epemerella infrequens) occurred.

The trout went on a feeding spree that was truly spectacular. Everywhere I looked there were trout rising to the size 14, little yellow sailboats.

I quickly switched my clients to size 14 compara duns and told them to have at it. After 15 minutes of fruitless casting, I switched them to a hackled PMD pattern but still no success.

All around us was a pod of feeding fish. The PMDs kept emerging and the fish kept feeding but we were getting skunked!

Finally, I started observing specific feeding fish. I would watch for a PMD to float over the fish's feeding site. Most of the time the dun floated through unmolested, though there were often rises when I couldn't see any duns.

I looked more closely, like ten to fifteen feet away. For every two or three duns that floated by me, a crippled PMD would float by with its wings stuck in the surface film. I deducted that most of the rises were to the cripples. I quickly trimmed the hackle off the bottom of the PMD pattern we were using and my clients started to catch a few trout. It wasn't sure fire, but it was better than getting skunked.

That evening I sat down at the tying bench and worked on a cripple pattern that would more closely resemble the PMDs that I had seen in the surface film earlier. Most of them had backswept wings stuck in the surface film.

I recalled a technique for tying thorax patterns that Dan Byford had taught me several years earlier. I wanted to make sure that the cripple I tied would lie flat on the surface and I figured that the thorax tie would certainly do that. I also knew how to create spent wing mayfly patterns so I was pretty much in business.

I selected a size 14 dry fly hook, light yellow tying thread, pale morning dun dubbing, light ginger hackle, and an old white neck and went to work. What I came up with sure looked like a crippled mayfly, but would the trout think so?

The next day on the river I had a chance to test my new creation. I was guiding a fellow from New Jersey. He was a very good nymph fisherman at the time and really preferred nymph fishing to dry fly fishing, but once the PMD hatch started and he saw the myriad of trout rising, he was easily persuaded to fish to dry flies.

We were fishing along a small island. Where the side channel melded into the main channel a perfect feed line was set up. I could see at least three trout rising within 20 feet of one another.

I stationed my angler thirty feet slightly downstream and to the right of the lowest fish. His cast landed about 3 feet above the fish but right on target for a good float. When the fly was 18 inches from the trout, it moved upstream with its back out of the water to engulf the fly.

After a two-minute tussle, I slipped the net under a hefty 18-inch brown trout. The PMD cripple was firmly embedded in apex of his jaw.

I contend that there is a village idiot in every pool; so catching one fish did not prove that the fly was a good one. I instructed my client to try the next fish feeding about ten feet further up the feed line than the one we had just released.

My client's first cast was three feet to the right of the fish. The fish never saw it. My client cast again. This time the fly landed about 2 feet upstream of the fish and about a foot to the right. The trout moved over and ate the fly when it was still 18 inches away.

Another good scrap ensued and after awhile, I netted another 18-inch brown trout.

I was beginning to think that maybe this fly would be worthwhile. I dried it out and told my client to move up a bit and try the last fish.

His cast was right on target- about three feet above the fish and right on the feed line. The trout moved up a foot or more and gobbled the fly.

It like the others was a brown of about 18-inches in length.

I could scarcely believe that in four casts my angler had landed three very nice sized brown trout. I concluded that the fly was going to be a killer for PMD hatches from then on - I haven't been proven wrong on that conclusion yet.

Materials: Krummy PMD Cripple

    Hook:  Size 14 dry fly hook.

    Thread:  8/0 Light Cahill yellow.

    Tail:  Light ginger hackle fibers.

    Dubbing:  Pale morning dun yellow.

    Wings:  White or cream hackle points.

Tying Steps:

1. Place hook in the vise and secure. Lay down a thread base stopping at a line perpendicular to the back end of the barb. Spin on a small amount of dubbing and create a small butt of dubbing.

2. Select a large ginger hackle with stiff fibers. Pull off dozen or so fibers. Measure for two gap widths, and tie the fibers in just ahead of the butt. Separate the fibers to create two tails that are like outriggers. Use your thread to X between the fibers and keep them separated.

3. Move the thread up to about 3/5 the way toward the eye. Select two rounded white hackles to use as wings. Face them and even the tips, measure for the length of the shank or two gaps, and tie in the wings with the hackle points toward the hook eye using a thumb and forefinger draw loop. Make three or four draw loops and then wrap several times. Pull the wings back and wrap at the base several times to stand them up vertically.

4. Wrap the thread back to the tail, spin on more dubbing and wrap it to about 1/8 inch from the wings.

5. Tie in an appropriately sized light ginger hackle with wraps of thread behind the wings and in front.

6. Pull one wing down and wrap between and in front of it, to get it horizontal and at a 45-degree angle to the hook. Do the same for the other wing.

7. Wrap the hackle behind the wings - this will take a little manipulation of the wings but you can do it! Get in at least three wraps behind the wings and then wrap the remainder in front of the wings - make sure the first wrap is on the base of the wings to reinforce the 45-degree angle. There should be at least 3/16 of an inch of headspace left.

8. Spin on some more dubbing and start wrapping. When the dubbing is starting to go onto the hook, as you are going over the top of the hook and down the back side, move the dubbing to behind the hackle and wrap until you are starting down the back side move the dubbing forward - essentially, you are making an X under the fly. (see above) The dubbing should lift the hackle to the sides of the hook. Make another X and then wrap the dubbing close to the eye, whip finish, and call it done. ~ Bob Krumm

Krummy PMD Cripple

About Bob:

Bob Krumm is a first-class guide who specializes on fishing the Big Horn River in Montana, (and if there terrific fishing somewhere else he'll know about that too.) Bob has written several other fine articles for the Eye Of The Guides series. He is also a commericial fly tier who owns the Blue Quill Fly Company which will even do your custom tying! You can reach him at: 1-307-673-1505 or by email at:

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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