Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Comparadun - My Favorite Dry Fly Pattern And Fish This Weekend

We can thank the Fran Betters for creating the basics for this style of tying and Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi getting it out to the masses. They created the Comparadun pattern, a hackle-less dry fly in the early 1970's that sent the traditional hackled Catskill style of flies on a downward slide in popularity and basically took over my fly boxes! It is the style of dry fly that I have used to catch 90% of the rising trout that I have caught. (hoppers, beetles and a few Wulff patterns are all of the hackled flies that I use and not that often)

One can go online and easily find the pattern and materials used but the main ingredient is the wing material. The fine hair from a deer mask is the most popular. I've heard that the hair from a Florida coastal deer is great but I've never used it. Shoeshoe Hare's foot fur also works although it doesn't give us the nice sharp profile that deer hair does. (that's why I can't stand the "Usual", a truly ugly fly)

Deer mask and snowshoe hare work great from sizes 12 through 18. CDC is a great wing material for this style in sizes 20 and under. Now, why does this pattern work? These wing materials know how to float and the allow the body of the fly (the most important part) to ride down in the surface and not be obscured by wraps of hackle. It's simplicity allows it to represent any mayfly from early season Hendricksons to late season BWO's in the dun stage.

This style works great for emerger patterns as demonstrated in Bob Wyatt's great book "What Trout Want: The Educated Trout And Other Myths".

Most of my Millers Trout over the decades that rose to one of my offerings rose to an olive comparadun in Sizes 14 through 18. Same for the EB. I tie the emerger patterns on small scud hooks without tailing material.

Note: when tying very small dry flies (28-32) keep your bodies SPARSE. Too much material means too much weight and water absorption plus too much material gives your flies that "squashed bug" look. Remember, size and profile are what counts. Thread or fine quill will do the job.

Google up "Comparadun" and view the hundreds of photos and videos. I don't post videos by others on this site. It's a boundary thing I guess but I will direct you to them.

This weekend - all systems are "GO". All the rivers are as good as they are going to get. Go for it!!!


P.S. Click the fly photos for a close up view.


Hibernation said...

Compraduns are great for sure... That said, Ill take a usual or variant of the usual any time... But, that's just because I LOVE ugly flies :) The overall style is great. So simple, and effective.

Thanks for sharing!

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Just the way I am. I don't like usuals but if they work for you....


Anonymous said...


I met you on the Millers 10 or so years ago and you showed me the comparadun. It's a great pattern, floats like a cork and takes abuse (caught fish)


fischmeister57 said...

It was on the Swift, back in late August, I think, and the fish were not rising at all - perhaps because of the high water back then - except for a very brief period at dark. The only fish I caught that evening on the surface - a nice bow - was on a small sulphur Comparadun!

The only drawback to Comparaduns - and maybe it's just me - is that I find them hard to tie, since it takes me a lot of work to keep the deerhair from spinning on the hook shank (even when layered with thread) and to get it to "fan out" just right ...


Millers River Flyfisher said...


Dig up a Youtube video or 10 on tying comparaduns. You really have to man handle that deer hair at times to make it behave.


BobT said...

The selection of deer hair for comparaduns is the difference between a PITA fly and one that is relatively simple to tie. The deer hair cannot be too coarse or it will flair and spin. Natures Spirit sells a "comparadun" deer hair, its a little coarse so it flairs but the tips are fine-they also sell spinning deer hair(very coarse), when you compare the two side by side the difference is obvious. It is selected to act appropriately (flair a little but not spin). Nature's Spirit products are of excellent quality and that particular hair makes a comparadun a relative cinch to tie. You still have to control the deer hair a little bit when you tie it in but its a whole lot easier with the right hair. Other companies probably offer a "comparadun" hair but I have never been disappointed with anything I have gotten from Nature's Spirit. Most fly shops stock their products and I have no affiliation with them or anyone...I am just an avid tier.

YellowstoneBound said...

Choice of deer hair is of the highest importance when tying comparaduns and sparkle duns. You want very fine hair that has short tips. I can't recommend Craig Matthews' videos highly enough - he has several on youtube. Also, I've found he sells some of the best comparadun patches out there.

BobT said...

+1 to Blue Ribbon Flies...great shop if you are in West Yellowstone and a good source of some harder to find fly tying materials and some shop selected bird skins that they source themselves...good soft hackle stuff out there.

Mike C said...

This is too funny. I spent afternoon fishing at the Nissitissit afterwards I took a stop over at Evening Sun Fly shop where I was getting some materials from Charlie specifically for tying the comparadun and its variant the sparkle dun. I still needs lots of practice but my last few attempts at a size 16 sulpher look pretty good.

He mentioned you were up that way today.

Anonymous said...

Hello Ken and everyone reading. I've been tying a comparadun that floats like a cork without any dressing. It worked very well for me this summer in the White Mountains. The wing is made from poly yarn. The body and tail I used pheasant tail with very light copper ribbing and the thorax is your choice of dubbing and color. I really like to score up the dubbing with my bodkin to bring the fly to life. I think the contrast of the dark body and light thorax is something the fish key in on and would imagine this could work well to imitate sulphurs and Hendrickson or any mayfly that struggles to emerge from their shucks in the film. This fly performed well in the poctets and riffles of the Pemi and the poly yarn is highly visible in turbulent waters. Hope some of you can use this fly with the same success.
Paul Fay

Millers River Flyfisher said...


YES, the two toned body for the dry fly makes a lot of sense and a fellow named John Betts (I think that's him) brought up the subject 10+ years ago with lighter bodies and a darker thorax. I'm going to work some up both ways. Thanks for reminding me.


Mike C,

Yup, spent some time with Charlie getting lost on the Squannie.