On the Fly column: PMD mayhem | PostIndependent.com
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On the Fly column: PMD mayhem

A Fryingpan River Pale Morning Dun mayfly. Scott Spooner

My favorite bug is starting to hatch on the Fryingpan tailwater. In a world where green drakes get all the attention, pale morning duns seem to get second billing. In my humble opinion, PMDs hatch longer and are the prettiest bug around.

PMDs can vary in size and color here in the Roaring Fork Valley, anywhere from size 14 to size 18, and their colors range from red to gray, and pink to yellow. In my opinion, there’s hardly anything more graceful than a PMD poised for takeoff, experiencing the world outside the cold river for the first time. PMDs are prolific throughout the valley and will begin hatching on the freestones soon, as well.

PMDs will be hatching now until late October. What other insect (besides tiny midges and baetis) offers trout and anglers more pleasure than a bug that hatches four or five months of the year? Caddis, drakes, golden stoneflies and yellow sallies come in a distant second, it seems to me.



For now, we can fish size 14 and 16 imitations, but as the hatch prolongs (and the fish become more “educated”), we will have to downsize our flies and tippet to seal the deal.

Pale morning duns have a one-year life cycle, from larva to nymph, emerger to dun, and then the spinner phase. PMD nymphs (on the Fryingpan, at least) have dark or rust-colored bodies that help conceal them from hungry fish in the red rocked bottom of the river. Fly patterns like red Copper Johns, the Tungsten Split Case PMD and Tungsten Redemptions are excellent imitations for the nymphs.



Emerger patterns consist of Pandemic PMDs, PMD Flag Dun Emergers and Halfbacks, and my absolute favorite dun (dry fly) pattern is the pink or yellow Taylor Creek Sparkledun.

The spinner phase of this mayfly is also rust-colored, and the best patterns are CDC Rusty Spinners and Organza Rusty Spinners. This mayfly undergoes an additional metamorphosis after hatching, and female spinners are oftentimes found dancing above and laying eggs over the water in the evenings and mornings.

These spinner flies are also deadly fished deep under an indicator. Hopefully you get to experience some PMD mayhem this summer — I’m bound and determined to do just that.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or TaylorCreek.com.


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