Cinnamon Comparadun – 02/18/2019

Cinnamon Comparadun 02/18/2019 Photo Album

I have very little to add to the subject of cinnamon comparaduns, that I did not already communicate in my posts of 02/01/2015 and 12/23/2015. I particularly like the 12/23/2015 post, as it offers several detailed fly tying tips that enable a fly tier to produce very attractive comparadun dry flies. I continue to favor comparaduns as my “go to” mayfly imitation, as they ride low in the film and produce a very lifelike delicate silhouette that consistently fools trout. A side benefit is the avoidance of buying expensive dry fly hackles. The 02/01/2015 is interesting as well, as it narrates the story of my introduction to the cinnamon comparadun as a pale morning dun imitation.

Fresh One

For some reason my stream interaction with pale morning duns was limited during 2018. The snowpack in Colorado was abnormally low, and consequently I visited freestone streams three weeks earlier than is typically the case, as I sought the edge fishing phenomenon. Although the water levels dropped early, I suspect the timing of mayfly emergences did not advance to the same degree. Normally pale morning duns hatch on the Yampa and Eagle Rivers in concert with elevated but manageable flows. 2018 convinced me that much of the success I previously attributed to edge fishing to concentrations of trout was in fact equally derived from dependable hatches of pale morning duns, golden stoneflies, caddis and yellow sallies.

A Batch of Six Size 16

Because I failed to intersect with dense pale morning dun hatches, I did not deplete my supply of size 18 and 16 cinnamon comparaduns. I determined that I was well stocked with size 18 imitations but was a bit light in size 16’s. I used February as an opportunity to twist six new size 16 comparaduns and refurbished one size 18. During 2019 I will remain ever alert for the sight of delicate pale morning duns, as they float skyward in their adult state. Cinnamon comparaduns will be my first choice should such an occurrence transpire.

Parachute Green Drake – 02/02/2019

Parachute Green Drake 02/02/2019 Photo Album

Although I remain very optimistic that the user friendly green drake will prove to be a successful fly during western green drake hatches, I decided to cover my bases by reviewing my inventory of the other green drake flies that delivered outstanding results during previous years. At the top of this list is the parachute green drake. I first began tying this fly in 2012 after some frustrating encounters with green drake hatches on the Frying Pan River. My post of 09/11/2012 provides a materials table and some brief notes regarding my introduction to this parachute style dry fly.

Should Be Very Visible

I typically stock three styles of green drake adults in my fly box, and the user friendly will increment that count to four. A size 14 parachute green drake is my most consistent producer, and I usually default to this balanced low floating version first. The comparadun and Harrop hair wing have their moments, but the paradrake seems to fool fish in a wider range of circumstances.

Four Completed

I love the white wing post on the parachute green drake, as it enables much better visibility than can be obtained from the olive earth-toned deer hair wings of the comparadun and Harrop versions. Floating a large size 14 fly with no hackle, as is the case with the comparadun, is also very challenging.

Since I began constructing parachute green drakes in 2012, I adopted two significant modifications that improved the appearance. Several years ago I viewed a technique on YouTube that demonstrated tying off the hackle against the wing post as well as whip finishing the fly at the same point. I applied this method to my parachute flies, and I was extremely pleased with the results. Trapped hackle fibers and gaps in the concentric wraps became a problem of the past.

Looking Good

I implemented my second improvement this winter, and once again I feel certain that it will be a permanent change. I substituted white turkey flat feathers for white calf body hair as the wing post. I read about this wing variation for parachute flies in A.K.’s Fly Box by A.K. Best. The turkey flat feather is not as dense as the calf body hair, and consequently it is easier to work with. The feather option is easier to stand up, provides less bulk at the front of the fly, and serves as a solid base for wrapping the parachute hackle.

Finished Parachute Green Drake Production

When I counted my green drakes, I determined that I maintained adequate supplies of all size 12’s as well as the comparaduns and Harrop hair wings in size 14. However, my quantities of size 14 parachutes shrank below the reorder point, so I produced seven additional versions. Green drake hatches cannot arrive soon enough.

User Friendly Green Drake – 01/31/2019

User Friendly Green Drake 01/31/2019 Photo Album

I must disclose at the outset, that this post describes a fly that has yet to be field tested in Colorado by this fly fisherman. If you follow this blog, you know that I am a huge fan of fly designer Andrew Grillos. He was the creator of the pool toy hopper and hippy stomper, and those two flies evolved into two of my top producers. Andrew has mastered the creative use of foam in many of his designs.

Helicopter View

I recently began following @andrew_grillos_flyfishing on Instagram, and he posted a photo of a User Friendly. Andrew is a fly designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants, and he obviously was attempting to generate interest in his new fly with the hope of influencing sales. I immediately exchanged some comments with Andrew, and he directed me to a recent column by Charlie Craven in Fly Fisherman Magazine. Since I am a subscriber, I searched through my pile of unread magazines and found the article that Andrew referred to.

Five New User Friendly GD’s

I anxiously scanned the tying steps and accompanying photos, and my immediate thoughts migrated to the applicability of the user friendly to the western green drake. Up until now I stocked my fly boxes with three versions of the large western mayfly; a parachute green drake, a green drake comparadun, and a Harrop hair wing green drake. Each produced fish in certain situations, but none were consistent trout attractors. To varying degrees they absorbed water, and maintaining a solid surface float with a large waterlogged fly was a problem. Floatation was a particularly significant problem with the comparadun version due to its lack of hackle and relatively large size. I worked through this shortcoming with frequent dabbing and trips to the dry shake canister, but these minutes subtracted from time on the water. As the old proverb suggests, you cannot catch fish if your fly is not on the water.


The feature of the user friendly that caught my attention was incorporating razor foam into the body construction. I was a bit concerned about scaling this feature down to size 16 and smaller flies, but the concept seemed well suited to a size 14 fly on a 3XL hook. I reached a point in my production tying when green drakes were at the top of the list, and I was very excited to experiment with the user friendly, so I took the plunge.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookTiemco 200R Size 14
ThreadDark olive 6/0
TailSix brown microfibbets
RibMaroon sewing thread
Overbody/Thorax UnderbodyGreen razor foam
AbdomenPale olive dubbing (Ligas No. 21)
WingPoly yarn or McFlylon
LegsSmall sillilegs
HackleOlive grizzly
ThoraxIce dubbing

The tying instructions outlined by Charlie Craven utilized a material list that produced a purple user friendly, so my first step was to select substitutes required to replicate a green drake. I decided to adhere to my standard brown microfibbet tails, pale olive dubbed abdomen with a maroon thread rib, and a hackle of dark olive grizzly hackle. For the differing features of the user friendly I adopted dark green razor foam, small barred olive and black sillilegs, and tan ice dub. The ice dub was applied at the the thorax of the fly to provide a touch of flash. If I had an olive ice dub, I would have chosen that, but I recently challenged myself to use the vast quantity of materials that already consume space in my storage cabinets rather than purchase more.

My single biggest remaining decision revolved around the wing. Craven’s pattern required a gray poly wing, but I desired something darker for my green drake. I extracted some white Mcflylon and green poly yarn from my storage bag. I never settled on a preferred wing material and ended up tying five of each color.

A Group with Green Poly Wings

Needless to say I am very pleased with the outcome of the user friendly tying experiment. The final verdict is in the hands of the trout; however, I feel very confident that these green drakes will dupe western fish during  green drake hatches. The splayed tails and V-cut hackle should cause the fly to land upright every cast, and incorporating the narrow razor foam strip into the body and thorax should greatly improve the buoyancy of this green drake model. Initially for the white Mcflylon wings I colored the base with a black permanent marker and left the tips white for visibility. I think this wing closely mimics the dark gray of natural green drakes. I must admit, however, that the green poly wings were also very consistent with the overall olive appearance of western green drakes. In reality I suspect that both will be effective, as I am not convinced that trout obtain a clear view of the color of the wing, since it is above the water. Their trigger is most likely the silhouette of a large wing protruding out of the back of the fly.

These ten user friendly green drakes will join my already diverse and abundant supply of western green drake imitations. Hopefully this fly will evolve into a regular occupant of my line during green drake hatches and not a platoon player, but its role will be defined by the hatches that I encounter in the upcoming season.


Stimulators – 01/30/2019

Stimulators 01/30/2019 Photo Album

Over time I embraced the stimulator as a necessary fly for fishing the brawling rivers and streams of the west. The heavily hackled high floating fly imitates caddis and stoneflies, and when tied in large sizes also represents a grasshopper. If you peruse my post of 01/26/2015, you will note that I produced a batch of stimulators prior to my trip to Argentina in December 2013. These flies went largely unused during my trip, but their presence in my fly box prompted me to experiment with them on western streams upon my return, and I discovered their consistent effectiveness.

Spaced Hackle Wraps

During 2018 I continued to rely upon stimulators in various situations. Yellow versions in size 12 and 14 satisfied my need for golden stonefly and yellow sally imitations. Gray and olive bodied stimulators were viable representations of large caddis. I even enjoyed some level of success with a gray size 14 during a gray drake hatch on the upper Arkansas River. My most recent post on 04/03/2018 summarizes many of my observations regarding stimulator usage on the streams that I visit.

On a Bed of Hackles

As described in the 04/03/2018 report I narrowed my needs to yellow, gray and olive in sizes 12 and 14; with size 14 stimulators attached to my line the most. I meticulously counted all my stimulators of different colors and sizes, and this exercise revealed that I possessed an adequate supply of yellows in sizes 12 and 14. I was not surprised to learn that I depleted my size 14 gray inventory the most, so I visited the tying bench and made an additional six. Size 14 olives were acceptable, however, I only found two size 12 olives in my bins. I responded to my low olive stimulator supply by tying four, and I am confident that I have more than enough of these versatile flies to cover my needs in 2019.

Hippy Stomper – 11/18/2018

Hippy Stomper 11/18/2018 Photo Album

My history with the hippy stomper is well documented in my post of 01/13/2018. This report notes that I experienced a small degree of success during several fall outings in 2017, and these experiences convinced me to produce twenty-five in preparation for the 2018 season. This raises the obvious question, how did the hippy stomper perform during live field tests in 2018?


A size 12 peacock hippy stomper joined my stable of prime producers during the spring, summer and fall of the past year. As I suspected, it served as an effective option between the larger foam attractors such as the fat Albert and Chernobyl ant and the smaller Jake’s gulp beetle. The hippy stomper became my first fallback choice when finicky trout rejected the size 8 and 10 terrestrials on my dry/dropper presentations. Although the hippy stomper contains thinner foam and offers a smaller surface area than the larger foam flies, it possesses adequate buoyancy to support two size 14 beadhead nymphs. Jake’s gulp beetle struggles to support two medium size nymphs, and this capability is important, as I love the three fly dry/dropper approach. I believe that the weight of two beadheads places the nymphs within the feeding range of the trout on a more consistent basis.

A Batch of Five and Materials

Since my experience with the hippy stomper was minimal, I tied ten with red bodies, ten with peacock bodies and five with silver ice dub bodies last winter. I speculated on effective body colors based on a few successes in the fall time period. During 2018 I deployed the hippy stomper throughout the season, and I learned that the peacock body versions outpaced the others in terms of desirability to the wild trout. This translated to peacocks spending significantly more time on my line, and of course this resulted in the loss of peacock body flies in the heat of battle.

Fly ComponentMaterial
HookSize 12 standard dry fly hook
Thread Black 6/0
TailBlack deer hair
BodyTwo layers of foam; black 1.0 MM and dark green .5 MM
UnderbodyLigas peacock dubbing
LegsSmall Sililegs of preferred color
IndicatorWhite McFlylon poly yarn
HackleLarge grizzly hackle

In fact, I used my last hippy stomper during an October trip, and this required an in-season visit to my fly tying station. I generally try to avoid this circumstance, but the hippy stomper secured the status of required in my fly fishing arsenal. During the first in-season tying session I manufactured eleven using peacock dubbing, and these were immediately assigned active status. Once the weather cooled down at the end of October, my fishing outings became infrequent, and I added fourteen additional models to my storage container to reach a beginning inventory of twenty-five. I suspect the hippy stomper will continue to excel as the surface fly in a dry/dropper rig while serving as a superb fish attractor in solo dry fly mode.

One of 25 Hippy Stompers

I settled on the Anglers All tying demonstration on YouTube for my guidance on tying hippy stompers. I also discovered that Andrew Grillos is the designer of this relatively new fly, and I was already an enthusiastic adopter of his pool toy hopper pattern. I am very anxious to continue the hippy stomper experiment in 2019.

Light Gray Comparadun – 04/22/2018

Light Gray Comparadun 04/22/2018 Photo Album

The light gray comparadun was the first fly that sparked my love affair with the no hackle series designed by Caucci and Nastasi. If interested, you can read about my evolution from classic Catskill dry fly to comparadun proponent on my 02/21/2014 post.

Macro of a Pair of Size 16 Comparaduns

My 12/27/2015 update outlined the emergence of the cinnamon comparadun as a second favored comparadun option. Both flies performed especially well during pale morning dun hatches, but over the last two years I determined that the cinnamon version was somewhat more effective especially on certain river systems such as the Frying Pan River. Despite this slippage in ranking in my comparadun repertoire I continued to encounter situations, where the gray version was preferred by western trout. A solid example of this circumstance is available in my 06/23/2017 post that covered my day on the Yampa River. Experiences like this prompt me to continue tying light gray comparaduns in sizes 14 – 18.

Total Output of Light Gray

I took stock of my light gray inventory and determined that I needed to increment my supply of size 18, 16, and 14. I recently completed this small tying effort with two size 18, six size16, and one size 14. I believe I am adequately prepared for pale morning dun hatches of all colors and all sizes. I cannot wait.


Cinnamon Comparadun – 04/14/2018

Cinnamon Comparadun 04/14/2018 Photo Album

If the reader is interested in understanding my evolution to comparaduns, then consider reading my post of Comparaduns – 02/21/2014. I just reexamined it myself, and I enjoyed refreshing my memory on this subject. For a great description of my adoption of the cinnamon comparadun as a must have fly, my posts of 02/01/2015 and 12/23/2015 are very informative. The 12/23/2015 text also highlights several key tying steps that produce quality imitations of natural mayflies. I will not attempt to reinvent the wheel in this post.

A New Size 14 Cinnamon Comparadun on a Recovered Hook

During my trips to the Frying Pan River in 2017 I never encountered significant pale morning dun activity, and consequently the cinnamon comparadun was not a factor in my fishing success on that waterway. On June 23 on the Yampa River it played a key role that resulted in several fish, and it fooled a few fish on the Eagle River on 07/03/2017. During September and October the cinnamon comparadun demonstrated its fish attracting qualities on several occasions on South Boulder Creek, when I was surprised by late season mid-afternoon hatches.

Three Size 16’s With Needed Materials

Damaged and Misfit Dry Flies to Be Recovered

As part of my winter fly tying process I focused on sorting through my many canisters of old unraveling and damaged flies. In the case of comparaduns I retrieved at least twenty-five bedraggled models, and I stripped them down to the bare hook. These hooks served as my supply to replenish comparaduns, and I recovered so many that a decent quantity of 18’s, 16’s and 14’s remain on the magnet that rests beneath my vise.

I tallied 33 size 18 cinnamon comparaduns in my storage boxes and concluded that additional quantities were not required. Size 18 matches 90% of the pale morning dun hatches that greet me in the west; however, occasionally a size 16 is in demand. I only counted seven size 16’s, so I manufactured an additional three to bring my total to ten. I hope to encounter more pale morning dun activity in 2018, and if my wish is fulfilled, I have adequate stocks of cinnamon imitations.


Harrop Hair Wing Green Drake – 04/13/2018

Harrop Hair Wing Green Drake 04/13/2018 Photo Album

A third key component of my western green drake arsenal is the Harrop hair wing green drake. The story of my introduction to and history with this fly is chronicled in my 12/29/2015 post. I invite you to check it out.

Nice Hairwing GD

During the past summer my finest day of green drake action using the Harrop style dry fly occurred on the Arkansas River at Hayden Meadows on 07/26/2017. This was the second summer that I encountered the gray drake hatch on the upper river below Leadville, and once again I had a blast. When I found the appropriate water and placed the high floating drake imitation in the sweet spot, the trout moved several feet to crush the heavily hackled deer wing fake.

A Pair Completed

Unfortunately I also experienced times when the trout rejected or ignored the bushy floater, and fortunately in these instances I had the parachute and comparadun styles to fall back on. Nevertheless I would not want to be on a stream during green and gray drake season without some Harrop versions in my fly box.

Five Newly Minted Hair Wings

I counted seven size twelves in my inventory, and I deemed that quantity to be adequate for my upcoming needs. In size fourteen on the other hand I tabulated six, so I incremented my supply by four to attain a total of ten. Hopefully this will provide adequate coverage for those periods when the trout tune into the hackled hair wing facsimile of a western green drake.

Green Drake Comparadun – 04/13/2018

Green Drake Comparadun 04/13/2018 Photo Album

My previous post of 04/12/2018 on the parachute green drake contains links to reports on my history with flies that imitate the large western mayfly. It also included links to my recorded logs on several fun outings during 2017, when I encountered green drake hatches that provoked excellent surface action. During these memorable days on the streams, the parachute green drake and green drake comparadun were very effective. In my opinion the size 14 version is a more convincing imitation than size 12 a high percentage of the time. My 01/11/2016 post on the green drake comparadun details a few nuances, that I applied to my ties over the last two years. I feel certain that these small features are a critical part of my success with green drake comparaduns.

Nice Angled View

Five Flies Plus Materials

I took stock of my green drake comparaduns recently, and I determined that my boxes contained two size twelves and seven size fourteens. I overwhelmingly use size fourteens in the comparadun style, so I occupied my stool at the vise and produced five new models to bring my inventory to twelve. I am already anxiously looking ahead to more productive interactions with green drakes during the summer of 2018.



Parachute Green Drake – 04/12/2018

Parachute Green Drake 04/12/2018 Photo Album

I began tying this fly in 2012 after some frustrating visits to the Frying Pan River. You can check out my 09/11/2012 post for a materials table, and I continued to adhere to this recipe in recent years. Another informative read can be found in my 02/13/2015 post, and here I cover all the various styles, sizes and body colors that I incorporate into my western green drake ties. Beware, as your head may spin. My 01/10/2016 log entry includes an explanation of a critical improvement, that I adopted when producing my parachute green drakes. If you are entering the green drake tying business, make sure you review that technique improvement.

A Nice Size 14 Version

I declared 2017 the year of the green drake. During 2016 I made a concerted effort to seek out green drake hatches in Colorado, and although I did experience a few successful days, I was disappointed in my results. In 2018 I set no such goals, and I stumbled into more green drake hatches than ever before. I met them on the Cache la Poudre, the Arkansas River, South Boulder Creek and the Frying Pan River. Some of the most memorable days were 7/26/2017 on the Arkansas, 8/8/2017 on South Boulder Creek, and 8/31/2017 on the Frying Pan River. The trout in South Boulder Creek continued to recognize the large mayflies as late as 9/19/2017. On most of these days the parachute style dry fly was a significant contributor to my success.

Two Refurbished and Three New

The links in the initial paragraph connect you with my excessive analysis regarding size, style and body color for imitating these large fish attracting mayflies, but I concluded during my 2017 wanderings, that size 14 was preferred over size 12 across most streams and during a large proportion of the season. When I counted my supply of ribbed parachutes, I discovered that I possessed six size 12’s and five size 14’s. Given my preference for size 14’s, I sat down at my tying station and cranked out an additional five to raise my total to ten. Hopefully this will satisfy my requirements during the upcoming 2018 green drake season.