Up until several years ago, I relied primarily on size 16 light gray comparaduns to match the pale morning dun hatches in Colorado. During a trip to the Frying Pan River in September 2013 I encountered a heavy pale morning dun hatch, and the light gray size 16 comparadun was soundly rejected by the educated fish in the upper tailwater. Fortunately I searched through my excessive number of fly boxes and discovered some old size 18 comparaduns that I tied for the Dolores River. I blended light olive and maroon dubbing by hand, and these flies not only saved my day, but they produced spectacular results.
Of course this experience prompted me to produce some newer versions, and I purchased a bag of Hareline cinnamon dubbing for this purpose. In the two years since the Frying Pan River success story I tested the cinnamon comparadun on the Eagle River and Yampa River along with the Frying Pan River, and it delivered solid results in these additional settings. These encounters with positive results using the cinnamon comparaduns convinced me to tie additional numbers for 2016. I consumed quite a few of my size 18 imitations, so I began by producing fifteen of these and then added five size 16’s.
The two keys to tying effective comparaduns are split tails and a deer hair wing that is upright or even angled backward a bit. I was not completely satisfied with my ability to split the tails. My standard practice was to make a small ball of thread at the end of the hook shank, and then I attached the microfibbet tail fibers individually at an angle on top of the hook shank. Next I wrapped backward to splay the fibers against the thread ball. This worked reasonably well most of the time, but occasionally the near fibers rolled up, and the split tail fibers were not on the same plain.
I performed a search on split tail fibers and uncovered a tip on a fly tying forum. I adopted this technique for the comparaduns that I tied for 2016, and I am quite pleased with the outcome. When I attach my thread to the hook shank, I wrap back to the end of the hook, and then I hold the tag end of the thread angled upward at a sixty degree angle while I create a ball using figure eight wraps against the taut thread. I do not clip off the tag end of the thread, but instead allow it to dangle from the end of the hook. After I move forward and build the wing, I return to the middle of the abdominal area and attach the desired number of microfibbet fibers to the top of the hook. Once the fibers are adjusted to the proper tail length, I wrap back until I am approximately two or three eye widths from the thread ball. At this point I pull the tag end of the thread forward and evenly split the tail fibers and then angle it down along the side of the hook shank. This causes the near side fibers to splay, and I then lock them by placing some wraps around the tag end thread before I snip it off. I then carefully wrap backward while holding the far side fibers so that they splay against the thread ball and remain in the same plain as the near side microfibbets.
The other trick to creating attractive comparaduns is to leave a gap behind the wing as you wrap the dubbing forward. After you complete the abdomen, allocate a gap and place some tight dubbed thread wraps against the front of the wing while using your left hand to push the wing backward. This causes the wing to angle backward into the gap. After the wing is cocked properly, make some loose dubbing wraps behind the wing to cover any thin spots under the wing.
There you have it. Use my suggestions to create attractive and effective comparaduns of various colors, catch a lot of fish during hatches, and save a bunch of money by not buying expensive dry fly hackle feathers.