Tuesday Tutorial: Missoulian Angler’s Improved Cripple

During emergence, the surface film is like a barrier to freedom for hatching bugs. After propelling themselves through the current skyward, it is in this surface film that they struggle to slip their shucks and burst into the air. This final fight is when bugs are at their most vulnerable, and trout gobble them up like girl scout cookies. A good cripple pattern imitates this stage of the emergence, resembling those bugs for whom this stage proves too big a hurdle. One wing out, shuck hanging down, bobbing along in the surface tension these sad sacks are the disheveled college freshman doing the walk of shame of the the bug world. This pattern, tied by the boys over at the Missoulian Angler, has all the hallmarks of a great cripple fly. Trailing shuck, hackle collar, buggy body and a wounded wing that does double duty by providing something for the angler to key in on as much as the trout. By substituting out the pheasant tail body for other materials and varying the hook size, this pattern can be a go-to for most of the mayfly hatches in western Montana, and is sure to be a killer on any water where trout are chomping mayflies. Get your vise ready, and dig in to this one- you’ll be thanking the boys at the Angler before you know it.


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