As I watched Tim Flagler tie the Last Chance Cripple Hendrickson, I inadvertantly cringed at the language used in the video below. Fly tying may the last refuge for the antiquated term, “cripple.”
Meant to imitate a mayfly that, for some reason or another, is struggling to break loose of the water’s surface film while hatching, “cripples” often draw furious strikes from hungry trout, simply because they represent an easy meal.
This pattern, a “differently abled” imitation of the East Coast staple, the Hendrickson, which starts showing up in the rivers and streams of the Catskills sometime around mid-May and moves north over the next month or so (Michigan’s rivers also sport an epic hatch), is a fairly simple tie. Using CDC for the wing, rather than calf tail, antron or hackle feather tips, is what gives the fly its slightly broken appearance when it’s on the water–just like a struggling mayfly yearning to take flight, but sadly unable to do so.
The tying method Tim uses is pretty flexible, too. Western anglers could easily adopt the CDC addition in flies like the Green Drake or even tie an Adams using the “cripple” look. See what you think.
And maybe we ought to reconsider some of our tying verbiage.