Learn how to tie the Parachute Madam X Dry Fly pattern, including step-by-step instructions, a video tutorial, pictures, and much more. Improve your fly-tying skills here.

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While we love technical match-the-hatch dry fly fishing, we also enjoy situations where the trout have something less than a Princeton education. Sometimes a simple attractor dry is needed to fool a backcountry cutthroat out west or Appalachian brookie. Regardless of which side of the country you fish, the fly must float high and be easily seen in broken-up pocket water. Second, the best attractor patterns seem to imitate everything and nothing at all simultaneously. 

For these reasons, Doug Swisher popularized the Madam X in Montana's Bitterroot Valley. Caddis, stoneflies, hoppers, and whatever bugs are on the water, the Madam X just works! We’re bringing you a hi-viz parachute adaptation of his original fly. If you happen to leave the gink at home, don’t fret about reaching for the PMX Parachute Madam X!

Materials

Step One

Establish a thread base by running the thread from below the hook eye to the bend.

Step Two

Start the tail section by removing the fuzzy fibers from the deer hair, then stack the fibers and trim them to run the same length as the shank.

Step Three

Position the deer hair on the shank’s midsection with approximately half the material’s length extending past the bend. Tie the fibers by the tip-ends loosely, then slowly crank down on the thread while rotating the hair around the shank.

Step Four

Tie the red floss over the deer hair, then wrap the thread down to the bend, leaving the tag end uncovered to begin the body.

Step Five

Complete the body by making overlapping wraps up the shank with the floss’ tag end, then secure the material before the hook eye. 

Step Six

We’re using the bleached deer hair for the Parachute Madam X’s wing case. Stack a slightly larger clump than the tail and secure them by the tips right below the eye. The wing should extend right past the rear.

Step Seven

We’re now switching over to the black thread. Build up a quick base in front of the wingcase, then cover the very front of the wing.

Step Eight

Create the Parachute Madam X’s legs by securing a short section of rubber legs material next to the wing on either side of the shank.

Step Nine

Before tying on the parapost, let's move the legs out of the way by pulling the forward-facing material rearward, then wrapping a wire around them and the shank.

Step Ten

With the legs out of the way, tie the parapost fibers on the head at the material’s center. Next, make thread wraps up the parapost’s base, and finally, make helicopter turns around the base and shank.

Step Eleven

Prepare the hackle by trimming the fuzzy fibers from the tip, then secure it below the post with the shiny side facing outward. Be sure to leave the feather’s flowy section exposed, and we’ll complete it later.

Step Twelve

Peacock herl is the last material we’ll be using today, and it’s for the thorax. Tie a few strands by the tips next to the post, then wrap the material in front of and before the post. Finally, Secure the herl before the eye, then clip the extra fabric.

Step Thirteen

Returning to the hackle, wrap the feather around the post several times, then secure and clip the extra fibers.

Step Fourteen

The tying section is complete after building a quick head, then completing a whip finish.

Step Fifteen

Apply a small drop of Zap-a-Gap in front of the hackle and head cement behind the eye.

Step Sixteen

Finally, trim the parapost, and the Parachute Madam X is ready to hit the water. Now go catch some cutties!