On the Fly column: PMDs are pretty much dandy | PostIndependent.com

On the Fly column: PMDs are pretty much dandy

Kirk Webb
Staff Photo |

My favorite bug is starting to hatch on the Fryingpan. In a world where green drakes get all the attention, pale morning duns seem to get second billing. For my money, PMDs hatch longer and are more lovely to behold. PMDs can vary in size and color here in the Roaring Fork Valley, anywhere from size -14 to size -18, and colors range from red to pink to yellow. In my opinion, there’s hardly anything more graceful than a PMD taking flight off the river’s surface, experiencing the world outside the cold river for the first time.

PMDs will be hatching now to late September or early October. What other insect (besides midges) offers trout and anglers more pleasure than a bug that hatches four or five months of the year? Caddis, drakes, stoneflies, sallies and BWOs come in a distant second, it seems to me. For now we can fish size -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 rust-colored bodies that help conceal them from hungry fish in the red rocked bottom of the river. Fly patterns like red Copper Johns, Mike’s Military Mayfly and the Tungsten Redemption are excellent imitations for the nymphs. Emerger patterns consist of Split Case PMDs, PMD Flag Dun Emergers and Halfbacks, and my absolute favorite dun (dry fly) pattern is A.K. Best’s gorgeous Melon Quill.

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 one more metamorphosis after hatching, and female spinners are oftentimes found dancing and laying eggs over the water in the mornings. These spinner flies are also deadly nymphed deep under an indicator. Hopefully you get to experience some PMD mayhem this summer. I’m bound and determined to!

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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