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Friday, May 22, 2015

The Crack-Back Aero PMD

Learn to Paint Cracks

pmd nymph crack back
Crack Back PMD -- Aero Style
My first exposure to "crack back" style flies came about mostly by observation of the naturals I was seeing in the local tailwaters I fished. As I'll get into a bit later here, when I ultimately dialed in the pattern, I remember a couple of times fishing a stretch of productive PMD water that ran along side a highway that was under construction. For the few days my fishing time coincided with the lunch break of the construction workers, I entertained them with sight-fishing to PMD-munching brown trout. But more importantly, I found a pattern that would end up a staple in the PMD section of my box.

Pale Morning Duns, or PMD's, are sometimes an overlooked bug on a lot of rivers I've fished, but it's still a good idea to have a variety of imitations for these common and important mayflies. Not only do they bring a lot of fish to the surface at times, but unlike the Baetis hatch, my experience early on showed me that trout often focus more on the emerging insects which turned my focus more towards a good variety of emergers and soft hackles. In fact, one of my favorite PMD patterns is a floss bodied soft hackle pattern a friend of mine ties. Between that and seeing how distinct the naturals showed their bright yellow bodies as the wing-case would begin to split open, I worked to come up with a good material to use for the "crack". I went through almost any yellow or chartreuse material you can imagine. Most would lose their color brightness when wet. I ultimately settled on some antron but more recently converted my updated Aero-Baetis style mayfly nymph into this crack back we have today.

The key here is that with Baetis or PMD nymphs and emergers you need to keep the body slim and the taper consistent with the natural. And because I'm a big believer in crack-back style emergers, I've taken that concept and applied it to this pattern, albeit a bit differently than others you might have seen. Which probably means it won't work and you'll waste your time tying this horrible pattern.

Material List

Hook: Partridge Czech Nymph #18 - #16  (BUY HERE)
Bead: Tungsten 2.0 - 2.4mm, Gold, Copper or Black Nickel  (BUY HERE)
Thread: UNI 8/0, Dark Brown  (BUY HERE)
Tail: Partridge Feather Fibers, Brown  (BUY HERE)
Body: Veevus Holo-Tinsel, Brown, Med  (BUY HERE)
Ribbing: UTC Ultrawire, Brown, Small  (BUY HERE)
Wing-Case: Skinny Skin or Fino Skin, Brown (or mottled Gold or yellow)  (BUY HERE)
LegsPartridge Feather Fibers, Brown  (BUY HERE)
"Crack": 3D Fly Paint, Yellow (bright, metallic or regular -- up to you)  (BUY HERE)


  1. This pattern deserves an "SS" tag for sure. I just received the materials to tie this pattern yesterday and now today the tutorial... it couldn't have been better timed. Thank you Curtis for putting this up I thought I was going to have to guess how to tie it from the picture on Instagram but now the secret is out. You guys really have the best patterns thank you for sharing. I will be tying some up tonight hopefully I can do it justice. #thematerialguy

    1. crap i got it wrong its the recipeguy DOH! it would have been so much cooler if i had gotten that right.....once again cheech shines....i may never be as cool as cheech thats a high bar to reach #recipieguy

  2. Cool pattern. I now can use my new veevus tinsel on some patterns. I would love to see this pattern concept expanded.