Monday, September 29, 2014

Taming the Comparadun: Problems and Solutions

Comparadun  tied by Darren Dunbar
The Compardun is an essential low profile, no hackle dry fly pattern that was developed by Al Caucci and Bob Nastasi. The fly is highly influenced by Fran Better's "Haystack", which is mentioned in Caucci and Nastasi's book "Hatches". The fly is highly versatile, since the color of the body can be changed to match a variety of mayflies. My favorite replications include the Blue Wing Olive and the Mahogany Dun.

The construction of the fly can be somewhat intimidating to some fly tiers, due to the required set-up of a fan-like deer hair wing. Keep in mind that there are many fly tying technique variations when it comes to tying the Comparadun. Nevertheless, try the following suggested tips to make Comparaduns' a fun and easy to tie.


Problem: Inability to splay tail properly
Solution: Leave a 2-3 inch tag end of thread off the bend of your hook that is centered between the  micro fibbets or hackle fibers, which is pulled towards the eye o the hook. After you tie down the tag, run a loop of thread underneath the tail, which will help elevate it nicely.


Problem: The body is too bulky or without an attractive taper.
Solution: Use a "fine" dubbing sparingly. Build a taper with thread prior to wrapping a biot body or simply just use a tapered thread body. Ensure that the tail is tied in near the bend of the hook in order to utilize a majority of the shank for the body.


Critical:  Steve Schweitzer at The Global Fly Fisher suggests"Selecting the proper deer hair for use in a comparadun is critical to making the fly easy to tie. Choose summer deer hair, hair that is thin and less straw-like". Selecting a pad with short tips for smaller flies will ensure the wing is constructed with a longer hollow-like fiber, which is beneficial when it comes to the flotation of your fly.

Problem: Wing is not setting up in nice even fan.
Solutions:  Use the thickness of a matchstick as a general guide for your deer hair bunch.

When tying in your hair it's paramount to start with one or two loose wraps. This technique is quintessential on virtually any elk or deer hair wing.

Build a dam of thread in front of the held upright wing.

Wrap 2-3 tight wraps of dubbing behind and in front of the wing.

To tidy things up you can adjust the wing with your fingers. Pull the fibers down so they flare in an even 180 degree arc; then you may apply some head cement on the base of the wing to make it secure.

Regards, D2

Comparadun tied by Darren Dunbar

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Motivated Fly Tier: Avoiding the Doldrums in Fly Tying

My Best Depressing Shot of a Fly Tying Vise
Fly tying, as much as we love it, can sometimes become a tedious experience; and hence the aspiring fly tier may experience the doldrums or a period of fly tying inactivity. This inactivity can be attributed to a number of factors. Even the most accomplished fly tiers can experience a lack of creativity or motivation to crank out new or familiar patterns. Personally speaking,  I do admit that I have had my fair share of apathy in which days, weeks, and even months passed before I finally put a hook in the vise.

Nevertheless, do not fear! Famous poet William Cowper once wrote "Variety's the very spice of life that gives it all its flavour."  The following is a compilation of variants that I hope will keep your bobbin going...

Share Your Creations and Passion for Fly Tying via the Internet
Join an online fly tying forum or post your experiences via Facebook or Google Plus and network with other fly tiers from around the world that have similar interests or styles. These social media networks are good tools, which allow a fly tier to explore many evolving aspects of fly tying, which in-turn should help generate fresh ideas and keep you cranking out quality flies.

 Tying Club Photo from Fly Fishing Frenzy Web site
Join a Fly Tying Club
Meet people with a similar passion who generally want to make fly tying a pleasurable experience. This is a great chance to improve skills and generate new ideas by conversing with fly tying newbies or old fly tying veterans. Check with your local fly shop or click on the link to find a fly tying / fly fishing club in your area.

Read a Fly Fishing / Fly Tying Book
Knowledge is power! There are numerous good fly fishing and fly tying books out there that should assist you  in your quest in becoming a better fly tier. Sometimes a problem with technique or the inability to grasp a particular concept in fly design will be detrimental to your progression. Whether you're reading about the fly tying forefathers, entomology or how to tie the classic wet fly, books are an excellent aid and training device, especially when you're in a rut. Some of my favorite books include: Production Fly Tying by A.K. Best; Bugwater by Arlen Thomason; Caddiflies by Garry LaFontaine; The Founding Flies by Mike Valla; and of course, don't forget Ray Bergman's Trout.

Sell or Gift Some Flies
Nothing can be more motivating when it comes to fly tying when you're showcasing your skill to familiar and the unfamiliar fly fisherman. Rather than lowering your expectations with tied-for-self flies, you're pressured to impress with the best of quality when tying for other fisherman.

Keep your Bench Clean and Organized
Have you ever spent 15 minutes looking for a bodkin or bodkin threader? Have you ever misplaced that size 20 grizzly hackle? Well, if so, you're guilty of an unorganized fly tying bench. The aformentioned scenarios can actually be quite frustrating, which can only compound the doldrum problem. In my opinion, a clean and organized fly tying bench is more appealing and inviting. Some steps to organize yourself can include the integration of a "fly tying station". The station can be made up of various components or a custom single piece with integrated storage, thread and tool holders.

Go Fishing
G-Man Drops in on the Middle Fork Willamette
Time on the water is highly invaluable in terms of inspiration when it comes to fly tying. Utilize your fish catching experiences as a road map to improve upon old patterns or create the next hot pattern. For instance, keep a small journal of some of the key elements (name of fly, fishing method, water clarity, etc.) that went into the fish being caught. Bring a small net and sample some of the local invertebrates. This observation in its natural form, is far more impressive and inspirational than what can be observed via digital images.

Regards, D2