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PMX Fly – An Essential Summer Dry Fly

The PMX is one of the top summer dry flies on trout rivers, especially here in Colorado. Its full name is the Parachute Madam X, and it doesn’t imitate anything in particular – it just looks like a terrestrial or a stonefly. With the parachute post and bulky body – this fly floats really well. This allows fly anglers to put 1, or even 2 nymphs under it. 

Doug Swisher invented this fly, along with many other great patterns.

Throughout the summer and fall months, I like to fish this type of fly instead of an indicator. It will get eaten plenty, and you won’t have to stare at a bobber for the best fishing months of the year!

PMX Is Often Overlooked

Although this fly is a classic, a lot of anglers don’t fish it much anymore. Most people will gravitate towards a Chubby Chernobyl or a hopper for their dry dropper fishing. Trout see so many of these patterns, so throwing a PMX will give them something different to look at. This is especially true on pressured rivers, where the trout see the same flies – over and over.

PMX Has Many Colors

This fly comes in multiple colors, so you can take your pick based on your local waters. Royal red, orange, olive, and yellow are just some of the most popular colors. Depending on your local fishery, you’ll find out what fishes the best. If you’re a fly tyer, you can play around with color combinations to make your own custom PMX’s. Different body colors, leg colors, and parachute colors – the options are endless.

PMX’s Have Size Variety

If you plan on putting nymphs below your PMX, we recommend fishing sizes #10-#12. These sizes have enough floating power to support weighted nymphs. This is good for nymphs with larger tungsten beads and even lead wrapped bodies. If you are fishing a small stream and just want a single dry fly, PMX’s in sizes #14-#16 will be your best bet. Even these smaller sizes can support a weighted nymph. 

Widely Available

If you visit a western fly shop and they don’t have PMX’s, they are doing something wrong! Most fly shops in America should carry this fly in a wide range of sizes and colors. Montana Fly Company (MFC) ties the best ones in my opinion, but other companies deal them as well. Due to the size and more complex tie, these flies can range from $3-$4 depending on the shop. They will usually be found in the hopper section or terrestrial section.

Perfect For Float Fishing

When we’re in a raft or a drift boat, we want low maintenance dry flies that will float all day. If you Gink up the PMX before your float, you shouldn’t have to apply dry shake for quite a while. This makes for more pleasant float fishing. The parachute post and buoyant materials keeps it riding high for hours. 

Works Late Into The Fall

This isn’t just a summer fly. When terrestrials come out in the fall, you can fish the PMX through October (if weather permits). Trout will often key in on this fly more when the fall terrestrials come out. This is especially true in Colorado, but Montana and Wyoming as well. 

A Fly Tying Challenge

If you’re getting more into fly tying and want to try harder patterns, the PMX is a good one to start with. Although it isn’t too difficult, there are lots of steps which will challenge fly tyers. The video below by InTheRiffle gives great instructions for tying this fly.