Pale Morning Dun Patterns

As a companion Four-pack Set to my Sulphur Dun Ephemerella invaria patterns on http://www.myflies.com/ I am also offering the same series of mayfly dun pattern styles for the Pale Morning Dun, which is also in the same Ephemerella genus as the sulphurs, the PMD species being named excrucians.

Since I have personally only ever encountered one PMD hatch, I took some information from the site Troutnut.com – http://www.troutnut.com/hatch/459/Mayfly-Ephemerella-excrucians-Pale-Morning-Dun and I would like to express my thanks for the helpful information presented there. Troutnut has a lot of good, no nonsense aquatic insect information. I recommend visiting that site.

Since the Pale Morning Dun is one of the most widely-ranging and long-lasting hatches of its geographical distribution, I considered the marketing aspect of my fly tying livelihood and decided to offer the PMD in a series of pattern styles as I did for the widely distributed sulphur mayflies of the east and mid-west.

The “PMD’s” are a very eagerly anticipated hatch on many streams, particularly in the mid-west and western US. These mayflies occur with variations in color and size depending on the location, from a #14 to a #18. This offering of four different dry fly pattern types and hook sizes is intended to increase the anglers chances of success when fishing a PMD hatch. Trout can be selective to pattern types, particularly on flat water, so it is beneficial to the angler to be prepared with more than one style and size of dun pattern when fishing this hatch. This proven collection of Pale Morning Dun patterns helps solve the difficulties of fishing PMD drys to finicky trout. All four dun patterns are tied with split tails.

Pale Morning Dun dun patterns, left to right:

Pale Morning Dun dun patterns, left to right: Parachute Dun, Thorax Dun, Comparadun, Quill-body Comparadun, hook sizes here are #14. All flies tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

The PMD Comparadun is a no-hackle pattern that rides low, yet stays  on the surface film. The light natural color deer hair wing is highly imitative and easy to see, and the split tails stabilize the pattern and offer added mayfly realism. Comparaduns land right-side up on nearly every cast. They are an excellent pattern choice for smooth water and moderate riffle currents. This pattern has a slim, dubbed abdomen with a thread ribbing and a more robust thorax, providing a natural imitative mayfly silhouette for increased realism. This design factor helps trigger confident takes from trout.

PMD Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Natural light deer hair

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: Light olive rabbit dubbing, abdomen reverse-ribbed with tying thread

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Comparadun

Pale Morning Dun Comparadun

The PMD Quill-body Comparadun is a personal pattern design variation that has a more realistic body silhouette with a slim, waxy-smooth abdomen that contrasts with the more robust fur-dubbed thorax. The abdomen is made from a synthetic quill material that is highly translucent, and it also floats, thereby adding increased flotation to this pattern. This shade of light olive on the abdomen very closely imitates the natural color of the PMD’s.

PMD Quill-body Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Natural light deer hair

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.) Winding the white Sexi-Floss over the light olive thread creates a very translucent abdomen. The Sexi-floss is tied in at the thorax. (See my other posts on this topic, use the search tab). The translucent nature of this material allows the thread color to predominate. This stuff is the best synthetic quill substitute available. And, it floats! This increases the pattern’s buoyancy.

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Quill-body Comparadun

PMD Quill-body Comparadun.

The PMD Parachute Dun is made with the same abdomen of synthetic quill material as the Quill-body Comparadun, and has a dubbed thorax, but it has a poly-post wing and a parachute hackle. The advantage of parachute duns provides a highly-visible, low-floating, imitative design. It is generally considered a better dry fly pattern for fishing riffles, runs, and typically rougher pocket water than the no-hackle Comparadun.

PMD Parachute Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Light dun polypropylene

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.)

Hackle: Light dun or ginger – I anchor the butt of the hackle stem to the base of the wing post

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD ParachuteDun

PMD ParachuteDun

The PMD Thorax Dun offers yet another pattern variation that helps fool trout. The wing is placed a little farther from the hook eye than the Parachute Dun, and the hackle is wound conventionally, but clipped on the bottom. Like all the patterns in this set, the Pale Morning Dun Thorax Dun features a split tail with the synthetic, translucent quill abdomen and a fur-dubbed thorax. Like each pattern in this collection, the Thorax Dun offers a different silhouette on the surface. Being prepared with multiple fly pattern designs for any mayfly hatch is an asset to the angler.

PMD Thorax Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster Light Olive #61

Wing: Light dun polypropylene

Tails: Light dun Microfibetts six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: White Sexi-Floss (aka Flexi-Floss, Dyna Floss, Super Floss, etc.)

Hackle: Light dun or ginger, clipped flat on bottom

Thorax: Light olive rabbit dubbing, built up larger than the abdomen to present a natural mayfly silhouette

Head: Light olive

PMD Thorax Dun

PMD Thorax Dun

PMD Four-pack Selection - Boxed Set.

PMD Four-pack Selection – Boxed Set. Set includes three each of the four patterns: PMD Comparadun, PMD Quill-body Comparadun, PMD Parachute Dun, and PMD Thorax Dun and can be ordered in size #14, #16, or #18 (single hook size per set).

Set of Four – These four PMD patterns are also being offered together in an attractive boxed set. The set is identified with a printed label, a signature card, the flies are mounted on foam strips, and they are beautifully packaged in a clear plastic case. This attention to detail and quality of the boxed set makes this a tasteful gift.

What it imitates: Ephemerella excrucians mayfly sub-imago, Pale Morning Dun (PMD)

When to fish it: The PMD is an ubiquitous mayfly, very abundant throughout the west, and there is a wide range of dates for their emergence. It is often best to consult local sources for hatching information. Despite their name, they often hatch in the afternoon and evening depending on conditions and locale.

Where to fish it:  Pale Morning Duns inhabit most water types, tailwaters, spring creeks, freestone streams, rivers, and some ponds and lakes, except warm water and infertile high country lakes.

How to fish it:  PMD patterns can be fished on 5x to 7x tippet, depending on water type. This hatch is prolonged, and on heavily-fished waters, trout can become drift-shy, requiring very precise presentation to fool them into taking your fly. Accurate casting and drag-free drifts are essential for success. On smooth water long leaders of 12 – 14 feet are necessary. Two or more pattern variations of the PMD can increase your chances for a good day on the water.

To place an order for the duns or the set visit: http://www.myflies.com/Pale-Morning-Duns-Four-Pack-Selection-P830.aspx

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Pale Morning Dun Comparadun

The Pale Morning Dun mayfly, Ephemerella excrucians, generally a mid-western and western mayfly, is in the same family as our popular eastern Hendricksons (Ephemerella subvaria) and some of the sulphurs (E. invaria). The former rotunda genus of Ephemerella sulphurs has been combined by the entomologists with the invaria genus and they are both recognized as the same bug.

Furthermore: from http://www.troutnut.com/hatch/459/Mayfly-Ephemerella-excrucians-Pale-Morning-Dun

Recent work by entomologists determined that it (E. excrucians)  is actually the same species as the important Western Pale Morning Dun (prev.Ephemerella inermis), and the lake dwelling Sulphur Dun of the Yellowstone area, (prev.Ephemerella lacustris). Since all three are considered variations of the same species, they have been combined into excrucians, being the original name for the type species reported as far back as the Civil War.”

The first and last time I encountered Pale Morning Duns, or PMDs, was in August of 1982 during my first – and last – gotta rectify that! – trip to Montana’s Bighorn River. The Bighorn had just been published in Fly Fisherman magazine in 1981, having been formerly closed as Indian property. When my brother Larry and I went there, it was on the tail-end of a two week trip. At that time the Three Mile Access was not there, and only about a half-dozen guides were working the river. Indeed, when Larry and I fished at thirteen mile, the only angler we saw all day was a float-tuber that drifted down the river around 3:00 PM. We went upriver in the evening, below the afterbay dam, and again, only one other angler cast his line besides us in that entire long stretch below the boat launch. My, my, how times have changed! The Bighorn has since become one of the most heavily fished and crowded rivers in the whole country. And I have some wet fly stories to tell you about that…another time.

On that August 1982 evening on the Bighorn, there was a heavy black caddis hatch, and it was like a blizzard of insects. They got on our clothes, on our faces, in our ears. Trout in the several hundred yard long stretch rose aggressively. There were probably over two hundred rising fish in a hundred yards of river. But not to the caddis. Among the black caddis, we noticed that there was a small, about size #16 mayfly, light olive in color, drifting along on the surface. It was this fly, a much easier mark for the trout than the caddis, that they were feeding on. But we didn’t realize it. That was over thirty years ago, and at the time and place of my fly fishing experience – mt first trip west, we were not prepared for this. Considering there were scores of trout rising, and we took only a handful of trout, I finally tied on a black Wooly Bugger in desperation and a sink-tip and caught a few more really nice trout until we quit for the night. When we walked up to our car we spoke to the man who had been fishing a couple hundred yards above us. He repeatedly had a bend in his rod. It was he who told us about the PMD and that the trout were keyed in on them, not the black caddis. When he found out we were from Pennsylvania, he said, “You could have tied on a #16 Light Cahill and caught these trout.”

I have been tying PMD patterns for over twenty years, both commercially and for custom orders. Here is my most recent, latest version (three days old) of a PMD Comparadun:

Pale Morning Dun Comparadun

Pale Morning Dun Comparadun, #18. Tied and photographed by Don Bastian. This pattern is another mayfly using the Sexi-Floss for the abdomen. Look at the color – believe it or not, that’s Tan Sexi-Floss wrapped over Danville Flymaster 6/0 #61 Light Olive nylon thread. The fact it turned out “so olive” demonstrates the translucence of this material.

PMD Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook; generally a #16 is used for PMD’s, but my customer requested size #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #61 Light Olive

Wing: Light natural deer hair

Tails: Light Dun Microfibetts, six fibers – split 3/3

Abdomen: Tan Sexi-Floss

Thorax: Light Olive rabbit dubbing

Head: Light olive

Tying Instructions:

1) Start thread on hook, place wing halfway between hook eye and point.

2) When tying Comparaduns, practice tells fly tiers how much deer hair to use on hook sizes, also the texture of the hair is an issue to be considered. The most important aspect when tying Comparaduns is that the wing must be set at maximum thread tension, as AK Best says about 95% of all tying, “…with the thread just below the breaking point.” The wing height equals hook length when using standard dry fly hooks. Clip a section of hair, comb out the underfur, use a hairstacker to even the tips, and set the wing on the hook with seven tight wraps. Then trim the butt ends on an angle. If your wing moves in response to thread tension after being trimmed, you did not tie it in tight enough.

3) Wind thread to hook point, attach tail fibers. Next wind to hook barb, flare the fibers with left thumb and index finger, and divide the fibers 3/3 with a series of two figure-eight wraps (four wraps total).

4) Wind thread to thorax behind wing, attach Sexi-Floss, s-t-r-e-t-c-h the Sexi-Floss and wind thread to tail and back to thorax.

5) Wrap Sexi-Floss over thread underbody. Secure with three wraps, stretch and trim excess.

6) Dub thorax and finish head of fly.

A dozen PMD Comparaduns, ready to fish!

A dozen PMD Comparaduns, ready to fish!

I vow one day to return to the Bighorn or other river with a population of Ephemerella excrucians mayflies, and fish a PMD hatch. I’m prepared now. That’s one benefit of experience. It teaches you to be ready for the next time.