Free Hackle Parachute PMD

Once again the showery skies of springtime Montana turn to blue, and the summer yellow sun shines high and long. While fisherman adapt to the heat with sunscreen and sandals, the bugs time their hatches and breeding seasons according to body color. The Pale Morning Dun is a mayfly that hatches throughout the West in the summer, and a pattern I’ve found successful on local streams during all stages of the hatch is the Parachute PMD.

Hook: Tiemco 100 or Dai-Riki 320 down eye #12-18
Tail: Spirit River MicroFibetts Ginger
Body: Cream or light yellow beaver dubbing or fine synthetic
Wing (post): Your color choice of poly yarn or calf tail
Hackle: High-quality cream or dun hackle
Thread: Cream 6/0 Uni-thread
Cement: Zap-A-Gap

1. To begin this pattern, select your favorite dry fly hook, preferably with a down eye for an easy tie-in during low-light conditions.
2. Wrap the shank with cream 6/0 thread, and then tie in a sparse amount of MicroFibetts for a tail. For more selective trout, you may tie in one strand on each side of the shank, to create a classic split-tail look. I like the clump tail for faster free-stone streams. The tail should be equal to the length of the hook.
3. Now take a two-inch clump of poly-yarn and secure it to the hook with three or four wraps. Turn it so the yarn is underneath the shank, and fold both ends upward to form a U shape. Make several wraps up this U, forming a secure post with about 2mm of thread going up it.
4. Leave the tip long for now. Tie in a long hackle feather sized appropriately for the hook so the fibers are parallel to the ground.
5. Return the thread to the tail, and dub the beaver dubbing up to the hackle. Move the thread to the front of the eye.
6. With a dubbing needle, dress the thread on the parachute post with Zap-a-Gap.
7. Wrap the hackle several times against the glue and trim. There is no need to tie this hackle off as the glue will secure it. Perform a whip-finish knot at an angle, below the hackle fibers, and dress with a drop of glue. Trim the thread.

In early summer, I fish this pattern as large as a size 12, but have found in slower water or later in the summer when the fish are more selective or are keying in on the PMDs smaller cousins, I will go down to an 18. Often the aggressive rises of fish indicate they are eating the emerging or egg-laying stage of the pattern. If you see heads, or rings on the surface, the trout might be eating the spinner fall of this insect. The Parachute PMD can be effective during all stages. Remember to tie some with both tail configurations, and in early spring and late fall, tie this in olive with a darker hackle for an effective Blue Winged Olive pattern. Happy lip sticking!

Jeff Hostetler is a full-time instructor at Gallatin College. He spends his winters riding at Bridger and the rest of the year fly fishing southwest Montana.