Postscript note, now some 23 years after its initial publication: I wrote this article in 1990, largely out of frustration. I had published close to 20 articles in glossy fly fishing magazines. But I was suddenly having increasing difficulty getting published at all. Not so much because my writing had suddenly deteriorated. But more because I was (finally) trying to write about the large lure-like streamers that interested me most at that time. My frustration lead to an experimental idea. I had a hunch I could get published almost anywhere, more or less instantly, as long as the (fly tying) article was about dry fly mayfly design. Even if the article was about a bizarrely irrelevant fly, if it was about mayflies I could get it published. I was sure of it. I wrote the following to prove my point. And indeed it was published. Almost verbatim. Without any editing changes at all.
Paranormal Mayfly (aka the bmp dun)
My fly tying year is inexorably divided into two seasons: the winter season, when I tend to indulge myself with amusing but impractical fly tying fantasies during long, cold, stormy days in the basement-and the late season, when I have inevitably run out of flies, and when I had to limit my repertoire to a bare bones assortment of essential patterns only.
The winter season is clearly the most fun. Like most tyers I've developed an extensive menagerie of wild patterns that are fun to tie and fun to fish with, that are too complex and time-consuming to fish with very often. That's part of the fun of fly tying. My favorite such fly has long been an extended-body, bottom-mounted parachute mayfly I call the BMP Dun. It's an eye-catching, super-realistic fly that performs as well on the water as it does in the fly box. But, despite years of effort, I had never been able to improve the BMP's status as a beautiful but time-consuming and slightly irrelevant winter-time fantasy. Until, recently, when, by a combination of perseverance and accidental circumstance, I stumbled onto a quicker and elegantly workable solution.
Like a good computer program, this latest BMP design solution does involve a relatively complex string of events, but the results are sharp and clean and plenty fast enough because I can tie a dozen BMP Pale Morning Duns, for instance, in about the same amount of time as an equal number of Royal Wulffs. For a durable, super-realistic dry fly that performs well in the field, that's quick enough for a permanent place in my fly box.
The BMP Dun is nearly a perfect design. The flat, horizontal plane of the hackle fibers combined with the upswept tail, upswept abdomen and upright wing produce an aerodynamically stable fly that casts well without spinning and twisting, that lands and floats upright nearly every time. Because the hackle fibers of the BMP Dun are placed below the body of the fly-like the legs of the real mayfly-the BMP Dun floats with a livelier and more animated posture than its traditional "top-mounted-parachute" counterpart. And because of its unique combination of a buoyant, waterproof foam body and a lightweight, short shank hook, the BMP Dun is, among sparsely tied, super-realistic imitations, a champion floater.
When fishing over pods of rising trout during a thick hatch of small mayflies, most spring creek guides will tell you there is no "one best mayfly pattern." Rather, they'll stess the importance of variety. If a regularly rising trout repeatedly refuses your drifting dry fly, the best strategy is to leave him alone for a while. And then, after several good drifts over another fish, to come back to first fish again with a slightly different fly. That's why it's so important to carry a large number of flies with you when stalking the wary, super-selective veterans of the fly wars on Armstrong and Nelson spring creeks.
While guiding during the Pale Morning Dun hatch on the Livingston (Montana) area spring creeks this past summer, I never felt completely confident if I didn't have at least a few #18-#20 pale-yellow No-Hackles, Poly-Chutes, Compara Duns, and various emergers and spent-wing patterns in addition to my favorite BMP Duns. But if the BMP Dun counts only as "one more good-looking fly" in an ever-expanding and ever-improving arsenal for imitating the smaller mayflies, it is, in my book, the only fly to fish with when imitating the larger mayflies.
When fishing the Green Drake hatch on the Henry's Fork for instance, or the Brown Drake hatch on the Big Hole, or for imitating the giant, fat-bodied Gray Drakes on the Cutthroat creeks in Yellowstone National Park, the foam-bodied BMP Dun casts, floats, and fools hook-wary trout so well I don't feel completely confident if I'm fishing anything but a BMP Dun.