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Last Chance Cripple Hendrickson Pattern & Tying Instructions

Fly Tying Recipe: Last Chance Cripple Hendrickson
When fishing the Hendrickson hatch, or any other mayfly hatch for that matter, it’s quite easy for us anglers to get fixated on using dun patterns, and with good reason. But there are always a significant number of bugs that have difficulty emerging or getting their wings off the water and dry, so they can take flight. Trout recognize these cripples as an easy meal which takes less energy to catch than something skittering around and about to fly away. Rene Harrop’s Last Chance Cripple, here a Hendrickson, is intended to imitate these cripples struggling on the water’s surface. There are times when it will significantly out-perform most full dun patterns.

For a hook, a 1X long Dai-Riki #300 in a size 14 is an excellent choice. After mashing the barb, get the hook firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.

For thread, it’s hard to go wrong with good old olive 6/0 Danville. Start your thread about halfway down the hook shank and take wraps rearward before snipping or breaking off the tag. Continue taking wraps all the way to the start of the bend.

Wood duck or mallard flank can be used for the tail of the fly. Here, I’m using wood duck. Pull 8-10 fibers down, perpendicular to the stem and while keeping their tips aligned, pull the stem away to strip them free. After making sure the tips are still aligned, measure to form a tail a full hook shank in length. Transfer that measurement rearward to the tie-in point and, using a pinch wrap, secure the fibers to the top of the hook. Continue taking wraps forward to bind them down, all the way to about the 1/3 point on the shank. You can then lift the fibers to vertical and snip them off close.

Golden brown Antron yarn is used to form the trailing shuck of the fly. Snip a 4” length free from the spool. Split the length roughly in half and lay one end of one of the halves on top of the hook shank at the tie-in point. With a pinch wrap, secure the material somewhat loosely. Then pull it rearward so there’s no need to snip off the excess. Continue taking wraps rearward to bind down the Antron, all the way back to the base of the tail. Snip the Antron so it’s about half the length of the tail. Securing the excess Antron with EZ hackle pliers ensures it won’t get lost in the shuffle on your tying bench. You can make numerous flies with the original 4” length you cut from the spool.

A single hendrickson pink turkey biot is used to form the abdomen of the fly. Strip the biot from the stem and orient it with the sharp tip pointed to the right and the little notch at the base of the biot pointed up. You should be able to see that the somewhat translucent edge of the biot also points up. While keeping this orientation, lay the tip of the biot against the near side of the hook and take nice firm thread wraps to secure it. Go all the way up to about the 1/3 point.

Get hold of the biot, you can use hackle pliers if you like, and begin wrapping it forward around the underbody. Now, the translucent edge should be pointing forward. With the biot oriented like this, when you wrap, you’ll notice a small ridge that sticks up and helps to segment the body. Continue wrapping forward all the way to your tying thread and then use it to bind the butt end of the biot to the hook shank. You can then reach in with your tying scissors and snip the excess off close. Although just about any dubbing will do, I like to use rabbit for the thorax. The color here is called Sand, and it has some pink and red in it which adds to the hendrickson look. Dub a short thin noodle on your tying thread and start taking wraps with the noodle to build up a slightly enlarged, fuzzy, little thorax. Make sure to leave a fair bit of bare shank behind the eye, 1 1/2 - 2 eye lengths should do it.

Two natural dun colored CDC feathers are used to form the wing of the fly. Place one feather on top of the other so their tips are aligned and gather the two in the fingertips of your left hand. Measure to form a wing a hook shank in length and transfer that measurement forward to the tie-in point. Once again use a pinch wrap to bind the CDC to the top of the hook shank. Wrap forward to the back edge of the eye and then rearward up against the dubbed thorax. Try to keep this thread segment fairly flat and even. While maintaining your grip on the CDC butts, reach in with your tying scissors to snip them off, so they extend about halfway down the abdomen of the fly.

A single feather from a medium dun neck is used to hackle the fly. It’s always a good idea to double check for proper size. Here, the gauge indicates the correct size 14. I hackle this fly a bit differently than most, but use whatever hackling method works for you. I like to pull down the lower webby fibers and snip the butt end of the stem off where the web stops. I’ll then strip about an 1/8” or so of fibers free from both sides of the stem. Now here’s where my method gets a little different. Re-grip the feather so the dull or backside is facing you. Keeping this orientation, lay the bare stem against the near side of the hook so the butt end rests just behind the eye. Take thread wraps to secure it all the way back to the thorax. Fold the feather forward and take wraps to bind the doubled-over stem down. End with your tying thread, once again, right at the thorax. This tie-down method ensures the stem won’t pull free but also usually makes it so the feather wraps with its dull side facing rearward, which I like on this pattern. After 4 or 5 turns of hackle, use your tying thread to anchor the hackle tip. Then wrap forward, zig-zagging as you go so as not to trap hackle fibers. This will effectively counter wrap and help to protect the hackle stem. When you reach the base of the wing, pull it up and back to expose the hook eye and take several tight turns of tying thread behind it. You can then get hold of your whip finish tool and, while holding the wing back, do a 4 or 5 turn whip finish to anchor the thread. Once you have the knot pulled nice and tight, snip or cut your tying thread free. I usually just use my fingers to snap the hackle tip off close but here I’m afraid I’ll hit the camera lens if I do. So instead, I’m going to reach in wth the very tips of my tying scissors and snip it off close, trying not to cut other hackle fibers in the process.

This fly might look a little awkward but quite frankly so do crippled insects. It’s also extremely versatile and by simply by changing the hook size and the colors of the materials used, can be tied to imitate a multitude of mayflies.

As I said at the beginning of the video, there are times when this pattern will absolutely out-fish dun imitations.
Show / Hide Last Chance Cripple Hendrickson Transcript

Video Transcript:

Standard dry-fly hook (here, a Dai-Riki #300), sizes 12-16
Olive, 6/0 or 140-denier
Wood-duck or mallard-flank hackle fibers
Trailing shuck:
Golden Brown Antron yarn
Hendrickson Pink turkey biot
Sand rabbit dubbing
Natural dun CDC feathers
Medium dun
Tying thread