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C LeBo

Crippled Mayflies

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I've tied a lot of crippled mayfly patterns before, but never really knowing what the real thing looks like. I've used em and had good success, but what point in the mayfly life cycle does "crippling" take place and what does it look like?


Thank You,

Carson LeBoeuf

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Mayflies can become trapped during any stage of the hatching process. The transition from nymph to dun can be a very dangerous time for any mayfly. Some can become trapped with both wings still in the nymphal skin, or one or both wings may get loose. One last stage where cripples can occur is while the wings are unfolding and drying (on windy or cool days, this can take up to a full minute or more.) If a mayfly dun gets blown over before the wings are dry, they are again trapped. Any of these "cripples" are trapped in the surface and unable to fly off. Trout learn quickly to look for these trapped misshapen bugs.


Spinner falls are a last stage where the mayfly sometimes becomes trapped. After mating and egg laying occurs, the mayfly's live cycle is over. Many fall to the water wings flat on the surface. Again these are trapped, and are unable to fly off.


Cripples will fish well any time during the emergence of the insects. I fish cripples as long as I keep getting strikes on them. Spent spinners are best fished in the very early morning hours (before that days hatching begins,) or the very last hours before dark. By early, I mean from 5:50 to 8:30 AM and late would be from 8:00 to 10:00 PM. Sometimes fishing at night is necessary (hex hatches are better fished after dark.)

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Cripples or stillborn mayflies are insects that are unable to complete the emergence process. As noted above, the process of emergence can stop at any stage and most of the time these are "stuck in the shuck" insects. So the crippling process can result in a fly that looks just like a normal emerger.


Often times, there is confusion about these flies and the term cripple and emerger are used interchangeably as in the case of the Quigley Cripple.


Just to backslide for a moment, there is a fly called the Quigley emerger.







There is also a Quigley Cripple that is at a stuck at a later stage of emergence.


Quigley Green Drake Cripple








Somehow this identical fly has morphed on the internet to the Quigley emerger, displacing the earlier stage emerger known also fly by the identical name.



Quigley Green Drake emerger







Calling the same fly by two different names:




Here's an actual picture of a stillborn or cripple mayfly




Crippling can occur at even a later stage when the insect has fully emerged from the shuck but has a deformity so that it is unable to unfold it's wings and it lies on its side, unable to fly off. This stage can also be imitated and it looks different than the above two flies.


Kelly Galloup's version











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