Cold snowy days in early winter are a good time to restock your "ammo boxes" with the flies that you'll need for this winter and next spring and I've been busy doing just that with 20 dozen tied up over the last week. The problem is they are all subsurface offerings and I'm itching to tie some Mayfly imitations because I'm already thinking of a balmy May afternoon with hendricksons hatching on the Ware and the trout rising EVERYWHERE!!!
Now, I stopped tying to "pattern" years ago and now tie "suggestively" which means that the size and shape are the most important elements in creating a dry fly with color coming in a distant third. The style of dry fly is important too.
The Comparadun - This is the F150 of dry flies!!! Simple, rugged, takes a beating and keeps on catching trout. It's half dry fly and half emerger because that body sits right down in the surface film instead of dancing on hackle points. In fact, the more waterlogged the fly the better it fishes.
The main ingredient to this pattern is the deer hair used for the wing. The ONLY deer hair that you want to use is from the mask (face), legs and ears. Body hair is too long and course for those size 14 and smaller flies. If you like you can touch up the wings with a sharpie but it really isn't neccessary.
My bodies are all ultra fine synthetics. They are stronger than natural fur and can position that deer hair very securely.
I use deer hair down to size 18 or 20 and then make the switch to CDC.
A close runner up (and closing fast) is Bob Wyatt's DHE (Deer Hair Emerger). This stuck-in-the-surface-film-generic-pattern works because it looks like EVERY mayfly or caddis that is trying to break through the surface film. You just have to change the sizes.
Think of the times you've seen mayflies in the air and trout rising but you can't see mayflies on the water and if you do the trout may ignore them and take something else. That something else is an emerger stuck in the film. They are the easiest prey that a trout can consume. The DHE does the trick and is simple to tie. Scud hooks, mask hair, some 140 denier thread for the body and course hares ear for the thorax will do it all.
Wyatt's book, What Trout Want explains the whole thing!!
Only four months to go until hendrickson time!!!