The Cripple Pattern, magic or what?

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by GAT, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Preston, beautiful flies to represent Callibaetis... I can certainly see why those would work. I like the color of the emerger. Most think the Callibaetis emerger is completely gray in color but the ones I've sampled have a tint of green and not totally gray.

    Tony, yeah, I don't think tying the wing and hackle around the hook bend is such a great idea. For one, each time you hook a fish, it would destroy the pattern when you remove the hook from the mouth of the fish.

    I never figured that style of dry fly is very practical.

  2. Hackled vertical emergers - The devil is in the details.

    If you tye your hackled emergers with the same amount of hackle wraps and a tail like a regular western dry fly it will float like a regular dry fly supported horizontally by its hackle and tail. If you want it to float vertically you will need to make some adjustments.

    Hackle - Reduce the amount of hackle wraps down to two wraps. Also use a longer hackle for more spread on the surface. About twice the hook gape.
    Wing - use a small amount of hollow hair. It floats but use too much and the weight tips the fly over.
    Body - use a tightly wrapped body. You want to avoid trapping air in the dubbing which causes the body to float. The body in the photo below is not tight enough but its the only pic I have available at this time.
    Tail - just a small sprig of fiber to create the illusion of a shuck. Do not use hollow hair for the tail. It floats.
    Hook - Don't use a hook with an elongated body.


    In this group of test flies the two on the left (brown body, grey body) with less and longer hackle and less wing worked best.


    Or as Chewydog suggests you can forget the hackle all-together and just use a forward wing. This a fly designed by Hans van Klinken named the Once and Away that depending on the hook you use floats vertically most of the time even though the body is hollow (peccary) hair. If you wrap the body pretty tight it will flatten the hollow hair and squeeze most of the air out while still maintaining a segmented look.


    Mark Kraniger, dfl and GAT like this.
  3. Mayflies do not suspend vertically. They suspend at an angle.

    They orient themselves so that their dorsal (posterior) thorax is in the film and they break through the thorax so it acts as a window through which the crawl out of to emerge. When they begin to crawl out they have an amorphous shape that is ill defined. So the trout sees the nymphal portion of the emerger under the film, the thorax in the film, with the front portion of the emerging dun above the film. Later, as the wings of the emerger begin to unfurl, the silhouette of the emerger above water gets larger and looks like the "cripple."

    Emergence is a continuum. It can be broken up into several prototypical stages. So when we say a fly is an emerger, it imitates a single stage in a continuous process. Therefore, when we say we are fishing an "emerger," as if was a singular fly, it is like pointing to a still photo frame and saying that it represents a movie. It does not and it cannot.

    Emergence is dynamic. Our naming of flies as emergers or cripples is like saying a point on a piece of paper represents a line. Any point on a piece of paper can represent only a single point along a line, and thus any single fly can only represent only a single stage along the process of emergence.

    What then is a "stillborn" or a "cripple?" They are identical in my view. They represent an insect that is trapped, or has failed to complete the emergence process. We can then see that the point at which they are trapped represents a stage along the process of emergence.

    What then separates a cripple pattern from an emerger pattern? Very little if you ask me. Both are stages or points along the process of emergence, are they not? Thus in my view, we are using semantics to say that an emerger represents an insect at stage or point of emergence, and a cripple represents a insect stuck at a stage or point of emergence. Both are the identical still "photos" from the same movie; and whether we call them emergers or cripples is wordplay.

    Look at 4:39 in the "Bugs of the Underworld" video below and you can see the process of emergence in real time. Imagine now that the emerging mayfly is stopped and stuck in the shuck. So are our "emerger" patterns really emergers or by imitating a single stage frozen in time, are they all more properly called stillborns/cripples?

    You decide.

    Gary Borger chooses to call these flies "film flies". Go to his discussion of emergence on pg. 2 of the link below, and you will see that the Quigley Cripple represents a Tstage 3 emerger just like a KlinkhÄmer and a parachute adams.

    "TStage 3. The insect pulls its head out of the shuck, followed almost immediately by the legs. At this point it enters stage 3, which is matched perfectly by the universal emerger: a Parachute Adams (or other fly with an upright parachute post such as the KlinkhÄmer)."
    Richard Olmstead and Jim Wallace like this.
  4. Midge emergence is not identical to mayfly emergence. The low body mass of the midge pupa means that it cannot break though the meniscus like mayfly nymph or a caddis pupa. Therefore, they need a different type "emerger" pattern to imitate how they actually emerge.

    Most midge emerger patterns are traditional "suspender patterns" that suspend the fly in a vertical orientation with the hook eye up and the bend down. This is the way a mayfly emergers by placing the thorax wing pads of of the nymph into the film and breaking through the film with the nymphal shuck trailing behind.

    However, this is not how midge pupa orient themselves during emergence. They form a flattened "U" shape with the head and tail of the pupa in the film and the body hanging below. The traditional suspender pattern cannot match the the hanging "U". See the video below at about 1 minute 35 seconds into the video to see the actual hanging pupa. Notice that the reflection in the mirror forms a characteristic oval appearance of the hanging pupa.

    The only fly that I know of that can duplicate this appearance is the Roy Christie Avon Special Emerger or a variation of Roy's fly. This where the upside down flies can shine.

    You can do a Google search for Roy's fly or click on Here to see the design. You can click on Simplified Version to see an easier version that Roy has tied that should be very effective.
    Jim Wallace likes this.
  5. the hooks are marketed specifically for upsidedown flies? Can't you just turn a standard hook over? kinda reminds me of a joke where a guy is throwing out every other nail because they were pointed at the wrong end, turned out they were for the other side of the house:)
    Jim Wallace likes this.
  6. The fact remains, if you're going to tie relatively fragile material around the hook bend, the fish are going to tear it up in short order with their teeth... not to mention the damage you'll do to the fly using hemostats to remove the hook.

    If you plan to use this style of pattern, you'd better tie a bunch because if you're catching fish, the flies won't last long.

  7. Its thinking like that that will get you in trouble with the fly tying police. :eek: I think what you are suggesting is what Roy Christie has done as illustrated in SIlvercreek's first post.
    Along a similar but somwhat abstract train of thought, that is why I recomend that when fishing dry flies you should always turn your leader around because the fat part of the leader will help keep your fly afloat.

  8. "Along a similar but somewhat abstract train of thought, that is why I recomend that when fishing dry flies you should always turn your leader around because the fat part of the leader will help keep your fly afloat."

    Makes as much sense as tying your flies back-asswards.

    Might as well write it up for an article. :)
  9. Yep...that's what I was trying to think of. Never gave it much thought as I always thought that they were just trying to TM a tying style that could be done on any hook.

    There is another hook out there and I also apologize for not remembering the name of it. I have some at home in my flytying desk and many years ago entered a flytying competition with a fly tied with it but was a mayfly. I believe the hook was called an elephant hook or something Umbrella hook...see below post...which allowed the hook to be below the surface in a dropped style much like this:


    And just for clarification, the USD fly pics were from conversations that I had years ago when I lived in the UK with Roy Christie. I believe it was right at the time when he first came out with an article on USD tying.

    Its hell to get old, I can't remember all the sorted details. I do remember though that they are true-to-hatch but cannot speak to the hook-up ratio as I don't fish them.

    To each his own on tying style. I tend to think that the enjoyment comes in many ways; be it from tying in an unconvential style or from finding out that the style actually can catch fish. I tend to take more enjoyment from my tying than my catching but also understand that not everyone feels the same as I.
  10. Informative thread. Thanks for the responses. I've gleaned some ideas for emerger style patterns.
  11. So I did some more digging and I remembered the's called an umbrella hook.


    Here's a mayfly tied on the hook:


    And an emerger:


    I think this will get you closer to what you are looking for GAT.
  12. Interesting hook. There must be a downside. Partridge once made a hook with an extension to the shank for tying extended body mayfly patterns. The hooks were expensive and had just one little problem: you couldn't keep a fish on the hook because the metal extension worked like a lever so the fly would pop out of the mouth of the fish. Sure, you could get a lot of strikes but you couldn't hook any of the fish that hit the pattern. Talk about frustrating!!!

    Obviously.... the hook was designed by a flyfishing sadist.
  13. Sorry to keep posting on this. Was just looking thru my flyting pics and seen a fly I tied that would work as well....CDC parasol midge

  14. Eric, I can see how that one would work much better than the so called "cripple". Wrapping the CDC feather looks like it would be a bit tricky.

  15. We're kind'a getting off the subject but what the heck, it's an interesting thread.

    Before Mustad bought out Partridge, Partridge offered some really weird-ass hooks. I don't know if Mustad continues to sell them under the Partridge name or not.

    This is the one with the extended body built into the hook. You can tie great looking extended patterns with this guys but you'll never keep a fish hooked:

    Yorkshire Fly Body K10

    This one is practical for tying nymph patterns with a tapered body. However, the hooks were expensive so not so practical for a wet fly that you'll tend to lose on the bottom:
  16. Having been in the same train of thought, I was shown a pattern that worked very well. Thread wrap body and a CDC wing tied up like in "example B" Rub the body in the mud and make sure to keep the CDC clean. The mud rubbed into the threads brakes the surface tension, causing the bend to sink. The CDC rides in/on the film.
  17. After watching Ralph Cutter's Bugs of the Underworld, I tried my hand at an inverted midge pattern with some success. As noted above, emerging midges often force their way through the surface film by pressing the tip of the abdomen against the underside to apply the leverage necessary to force the head through the film. Cutter reports observing numbers of midges "hanging" in this U-shaped attitude while fish pick them off like popcorn. Once the surface film is penetrated the humpbacked thorax rises almost straight up as the legs push the adult midge out of the nymphal shuck.

    Here's a picture of my inverted midge pattern.

  18. Well done!!!

    Now fish it and see if it works.

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