The famous tailwaters and spring creeks of the West and East produce some amazing mayfly hatches. In the West, blue winded olives are some of the first mayflies to welcome spring but also some of the last to hatch in the fall. Gray days with a light drizzle can be the right formula for thousands and thousands of these bugs as the fish welcome the little sailboats into their mouths. It’s on days like this that a blue winged olive cripple will take fish better than any fly in your box at times.
Rivers like the Henry’s Fork, Missouri, Green, and Bighorn can produce super hatches. The trout will often stack up in back eddies and just gorge on these flies. There is no reason for these fish to move or expend energy on a healthy adult that could fly away at any moment. An actual blue winded olive cripple can’t fly away and just has to accept its fate. The trout know their watery environment and depend on these near lifeless meals to fatten up. When we think of cripples, we should think about most other fish that are feeding on minnows or other prey items. Those fish want a trigger that tells them that this fish is injured and needs to be taken out of the world. This prey item represents an easy meal because its normal abilities to get away have been lessened. Small mayflies don’t represent the same difficulty as a fleeting baitfish when we’re talking about getting away from a hungry trout, although it still exists. The trout have to feed much more robotically so that the trigger of the upright wing can be the most important aspect of the pattern. This normally happens when the fish is picking singles off in a rhythm. However, when there are so many adults on the water that they start to die in high numbers and even cluster, this is when the fish will actually trigger on the down-wing version, particularly in slower water. If you are heading to any of these prolific bug factories you need cripples. It is particularly important if you’re fishing during some of the consistently colder times of year. Since blue winged olives hatch consistently during these times of year, a blue winged olive cripple may be the most important cripple of any of the mayflies.
This particular pattern is a basic blue winged olive cripple. It gives the trout a nice profile with little bulk but presents a lopsided wing that makes more contact with the surface film. This more substantial surface contact contrasts with the light and diminutive surface contact of a happy and healthy adult. Although it is a blue winged olive cripple pattern, it doesn’t go overboard with its bulk. There may actually be times when a bulkier pattern may be the key, like a humongous Griffith’s gnat for mayflies, in other words, a mayfly cluster pattern. For most cases, this guy gets the job done.
- Hook: Tiemco 101 #16 – 20
- Thread: Uni-thread 8/0 (rusty dun or olive dun)
- Wing: Parapost material (medium dun)
- Dubbing: Superfine (brown olive)
- Tail: Microfibetts (light dun)
- Hackle: Whiting saddle (medium dun)