Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Thinking Of Dries

"For me, the study of aquatic insects and their transformations is engaging in an of itself. It also increases my understanding of the river, the fish and their prey. Learning where the food is will help you find the fish". - Thomas Ames, Jr. from Hatch Guide For New England Streams

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!!!



Ted said...


You write about the Comparadun a lot so they must work for you. My question is my comparadun wings begin to slant forward after a while. How do you keep them standing straight up?

YellowstoneBound said...

Got to love the comparadun, and its step-brother, the sparkle dun!

I've taken to switching from deer hair to Widow's Web (from Montana Fly Company) for winging my sparkle duns sized 18 and smaller. I was fishing the Firehole River on a rainy day this past October, when some size 20 baetis starting emerging. Firehole trout can be rather picky this time of year, but a sized 20 sparkle dun with a grey widow's web wing did the job.

For me, the trick is using just enough material for the wing (either hair, cdc, or synthetic) so a small thread dam will hold the material upright without creating too much bulk.

Millers River Flyfisher said...


Tie the comparadun with a little space between the eye and where you place the deer hair. Then wrap some dubbing IN FRONT of the post like you're making a head for the fly. That will keep the wing post upright forever.




Parachute Adams said...

Ken, On your advice earlier this year I tied up a few of the CDC comparaduns and had great success with them. They look very much like the real insects floating and the trout love them. I will always have a few with me during dry fly time.


Anonymous said...

Hello Ken,

Great blog, I'm a long time reader, keep up the good work. I seem to remember a post that featured the Pin Head recipe but can't seem to find it. I'd like to tie up a bunch for this winter and was wondering what materials you use.



Millers River Flyfisher said...


I sent it to your email address.


Anonymous said...

Ken: Do you use natural hare's ear for the thorax on the Wyatt Emerger? It is an interesting pattern like the Klinkhammer.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,

I'm looking to get a book or 2 to help me understand what is going on under the water and the type of flies that are common at different times of the year. I was considering getting the book mentioned above "Hatch Guide for New England Streams" by Thomas Ames, Jr., along with "Reading Trout Waters" by Dave Hughes. Would you recommend these books or are there other books that would be more beneficial to a young beginner fly fisherman? Any suggestion is appreciated. Thanks guys!

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Anonymous 1,

Any hare's ear will do

Anonymous 2,

The books are great especially the Ames book


fischmeister57 said...

Very close in action and appearance to the Deer Hair Emerger you pictured is the Klinkhammer. It can also imitate an emerger with the abdomen (without a tail) sticks down into the surface film.



Millers River Flyfisher said...


Good to hear from you. The one difference is that the Klinkhammer is a parachute fly.
I don't think it makes a lot of difference.


YellowstoneBound said...

The other trick with comparaduns - one that i learned from Craig Matthews - is to stand the hairs upright in 1/3 clumps. this helps keep the week from listing forward as you fish it. usually a single wrap in front of each 1/3 clump, and then a small thread dam in front works on the biggest of hairwings.

Parachute Adams said...

Good tip, Yellowstone, on the three wraps 1/3 at a time on the comparaduns. I will give that a try. Along with CDC and deer hair, I like elk hair as well being the light color is easy for my eyes to keep track of on the stream. I'm dying to fish again, hopefully next week when I am on some vacation time. Supposed to be in the 40's for some of that time.

Merry Christmas and Best Regards to all,