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Catskill style VS. Comparadun Style Dry Fly's.


wanna be fly fisher.
It's been proven over the years that the Comparadun style dry fly's have consistently outfished the Catskill style flies, but why?

A Catskill style dry fly sits above the water film. This leads the trout to believe that the Dun has fully emerged and is about to take off. Trout as we know, like to use as little energy as possible to capture their prey so why take a chance of waisting good energy for something that may not be there when he opens his mouth.

Trout don't have to move around so much when spinners are all over the waters surface. For this reason is why so many anglers wait for a spinner fall not even realizing the potential of using a Comparadun anytime, even when there is no real hatch happening at the time. Many anglers aren't aware of the potential the Comparadun style dry fly has to offer, or just simply choose not to use them. I'll have to admit that I've carried them in my fly boxes for years and never even touched them. How many of you have passed them up in the stores or at the Flyfishing show's or wherever they were available. Let's face it, these are not the most attractive flies on the market. The name is not so glamorous either when compared to such things as, "THE ROYAL COACHMAN" . The comparadun however, is a more functional fly. Its body sits in the water film rather than on top of the water film. It resembles an emerger getting ready to leave its schuck <sp>. Trout see this as an advantage point to them, and a handicap for the emerging insect as this is the time when the mayfly is at its most vulnerable stage (when opportunity knocks,...). Trout are aware of this time, and capitolize on it. Before the fly can leave the water, its wings have to dry and until then, it's fair game for a trout!

The Catskill style fly is an elegant piece of art (some say). We all use them. I use them often, but not as often as I used to before I re-discovered the Comparadun style dry fly. I tie them, I buy them, rarely passing up a new untouched version of whatever happens to be happening at a certain time of the year. I even have a little glass plaque on my wall with 9 classic catskill flies. They are so pretty to look at, and with so many variations, who can pass these works of art up. They are so attractive that when you're in the store looking for fly's, you look for the ones that catch your eye the quickest. "I'll take a couple dozen of these, Royal Bivisible March Brown Humptydoo Cahill's, please!" Ok, so I made that fly up, but it sure sounds good and would probably look better than any Comparadun, that's for sure.

So, the Catskill fly legend will continue, and people will still use them over the Comparadun style flies. Hey, they still work. I've been fly fishing for 25 yrs now (or so) and have never had a problem using a Catskill style dry fly. The fact is though, I've been missing out on a well known secret weapon of a dry fly! I've always carried at least a dozen of them in my fly boxes, but have always opted to use what was pretty looking to me rather than taking into consideration what the trout I'm trying to catch might be thinking (easier is better!). I know, trout don't think... but you get the picture! :)

Next time you're at your favorite fly shop looking for fly's, check out a few comparadun patterns, you won't regret it! While you're at it, pick 1 extra up. If it they work the way I claim, send me one! :)

Isonychia Bicolor or the more common name, Slate Drake or Iso.
I actually like to fish the comparadun, but the it's visablity on the water for the fisherman sucks. Another problem that I have is that I like to fish a dropper. Most of the time a compardun can't stay on top of the water with a dropper behind it. For that reason alone I will fish either a catskill style or to get best of both a parachute style.
Dennis explained perfectly as to why the "mechanics" of the comparadun and also the parachute and Paradun fly will catch more fish than traditional catskill flies.I exclusively use the 2 patterns I sent in for imitating mayflys.I never had a problem with visibilty except at dark,but they do not float as well as other flies especially in fast riffles and pocket water thats were the emerger comes in, if tied right it floats like a cork!And highly visible.When fishing to rising fish I use the emerger pattern probably 80% of the time!Its a more vunerable stage for the insect and the fish gobble em up!
Dennis said just about all that is to be said about the Comparadun. The Comparaemerger is also a great fly. It's particularly killing when tied and used to fish the hendrikson hatch.

Another key for me is how easy it is to tie. The comparadun takes some practice but once you learn how to tie it, you can tie up a bunch really fast and easily. The Comparaemerger is even an easier tie.

I, like Joe T will fish an emerger almost all the time. They'll take the emerger 9 out of 10 times when eating Duns but if eating emergers won't take a dun pattern 9 out of 10 times.

Don't forget to tie some comparadun's with trialing schucks. The sparkle dun is a comparadun with an antron schuck. I believe it was Craig Mattews who add this innovation to the standard compardun. If you've seen the brown (picture on this site) I caught on the WBD this spring you'll know they work. The fish at a size 18 dorthea sparkle dun.
Hey Fred,

Welcome aboard! I'm glad to see you finally got that problem fixed up with your computer.

You're right about the CDC "Sparkle" emerger. I was fishing in the KLG one day a few years ago, and some guy approached me. He told me what had been working for him, but I've never heard of such a thing. I was a strict traditional catskill type of guy. Heck, I didn't start nymphing until maybe 4yrs ago. Anyway, He told me it was a variation of the Al's Rat.

Looking into it a little further, I don't think it was an Al's rat at all. It was more like a size 26 BWO emerger pattern. I was a little skeptical of using it because I thought it would sink like a Ralfies head in a bowling ball bag. (Soprano's dig)... Even if it didn't sink like a brick, I Figured I'd never be able to see it anyway. Well, I tried it out and it was extremely visible in slower moving water, and it worked like a charm. The only problem was that I only had 1 of these. I searched high and low and finally one day while flipping through an Orvis catalog, I saw the "Cannons Bunny Dun".
This fly although a little larger than what I had, I figured if I get them, I can trim them down a bit, so that's exactly what I've done. Since then, I've been able to find something else that even more closely resembles that fly, and it works great. I fish it as a midge and a as a BWO emerger. It works like a computer.... MULTITASKING!!!!

When I get home tonight, I'll post a photo of this bugger so you guys know what I'm talking about. This particular pattern doesn't use CDC the way the "Cannons" does, it uses a piece of foam the size of a ball point pen tip, when cut down. I guess you'll have to see it. Picture this fly:
with an olive body tied very lightly. Ohhh... the evolution of the Dry Fly!

Those are just a few examples of what some of the fly's I use quite often, look like.


I tie, and love, a version of the last fly pictured. It's a cut foam parachute tied on a scud hook with a trailing antron shuck. It's tied with a body color and size to match any natural mayfly.

I got the Idea from Dave Hughes trout flies. You can tip the foam with an orange florescent market. It rides very low in the film, is highly visible and boy does it wack fish.
Catskills Vs Comparadun

First, let me say you guys are right on the money and your knowledge is very high. My respect to everyone who posted here. I may be an OK fly tyer, but I am still learning about fly fishing all the time. This is just many of the reasons why I love Fly Fishing and why it's a way of my life. Keep in mind that at times I think I really love my tying more than actually fishing. The fishing aspect is what fuels my mind to think and improve or create new patterns that I feel will work. I read all the post's and feel that there were no wrong answers given. I use and tye a lot of Catskills style flies and feel Dennis hit it on the nose, they are just plain simple works of art that work and are very affective. Keep in mind that the Catskill Style flies has to be really worked on a stream to selective trout. In the Catskill style a size 16 may get a look from a trout but in the end gets a refusal. Then if you go to a size 20 to 22 then look out you get a hook up. There are a lot of times that Trout will not go after anything on the surface and a Parachute or comparadun is the only way to go. I've seen this and done this experiment myself and now is one of the reasons I always carry a comparadun and a few Parachutes with me. The comparadun is a very affective fly that works a lot. I also feel that emergers are more affective than comparaduns. Now let's put it all into perspective. What is the way you really love to fish. I am 90% of the time a traditional Wet fly and Streamer fishermen. The other 10% is dry fly's be it Catskills style or Comparaduns or parachutes. Keep in mind that you can tye parachutes with chartuse or hot red or orange calf tails to improve visibility. The Dropper technique does work better with Catskill Style flies. In closing, I am very impressed with the way this board has really been talking fishing and the subjects are getting interesting to make one have to post a reply.

Andy B
Andy your spot on. How one likes to fish is very personal and there are no rights or wrongs here as long as the fish and the enviroment are respected.

As for me, I'm pretty much a dry fly guy. I'll fish dry's or search out risers about 90% of the time. If that fails and I'm near some good riffs I'll typically dead drift nymphs or swing them if nymphs are moving. From time to time I'll pitch a streamer but usually as a last resort or if conditions are conducive to this play.

I've become very, very interested in fly design (as opposed to simply replicating patterns). If you dig deep into fly design you get a huge appreciation for exactly what the fly is imitating with regard to the natural. It makes you a much better fisherman and you can beg borrow and steal to arrive a fly characteristics which fit precisely how you like to fish and what you encounter. The big plus is that in heavily fished water you can show a selective fish something a little different which increases you odds of a hook up.
I'd really like to start tying my own flies this winter but have no idea how to get started. Does have any advice? What do I buy to get started? Are there classes somewhere or is anyone interested in getting together as a group to teach and tie?
Fly Tying


If you want to learn how to tye fly's I will be glad to take you to a few fly fhops. I will be able to show and explain to you what you will need with out paying an arm and a leg. There are a few places that gives lessons during the week and on weekends. The thing I will tell you up front is to not go out and buy a kit. We can get you started on a Thompsons Model A vise on what I started out on years ago for a very reasonable price. If you do not want to take classes from a fly shop, I would not mind giving you a few lessons at my house to get you on your way. You live about 20 minutes north of me. For you it is Rt 206 down through Rocky Hill to Rt1 into Monmouth Junction Section of South Brunswick. Let me know what you want to do and I will provide my E-mail address to you so we can hook up.

Andy B

I'm self taught from books and the internet. It's not hard at all. I would suggest that you pick five flies you fish the most and learn how to tie those first. You can buy a cheap Thompson vise to get started or you can buy a better vise like a Renzatti. Get the patterns for the five flies and buy materials for those. You'll also need scissors, and a handful of other tools. Suggestions include a PT or HE, I would learn to tie a parachute, a deer hair caddis, a terrestrial like a foam ant or beetle.

Also some of the fly shops in NJ offer tying lessons as well as TU chapters. This would be of interest but I never took lessons.

If you like fishing for trout simply puchase a copy of Dave Hughes "trout flies" This will provide you with almost all the styles/patterns you'll need. It's got great patterns and is very descriptive as to how to tie various patterns.

I would also suggest you purchase a package of spectrumized dubbing from The Delaware River Club 1-800-6mayfly. For thirty bucks or so you'll have about 20 different packs of dubbing with the name and stage of the mayfly which you'll be imitating.

Dave, Hope this helps. Good luck and post again if you have other questions. I'm sure others will also chime in with good suggestions. Defintely start tying... you'll love it.
Thanks Fred & Andy,

That's pretty helpful!

Andy, I will definitely take you up on your offer since I work on Rt 1 near Forrestal Village and my girlfriend's family is in the South Brunswick area. If you want to email me at dave564@earthlink.net, maybe we can set something up for post-holiday time when things slow down. That would give me a few months practice before things heat up in the spring.

Fred - I like your advice regarding "pick 5 patterns" and you hit most of my favorites on the first try! I guess those popular patterns are easy to peg.

Do you guys know if the Hillsborough Fly shop carries tying materials? I think they do...I guess Effinger's would probably be a place to try too. And is there a shop somewhere in Pennington on Rt 31?
There is a shop called Delaware River Outfitters in Pennington that does offer fly tying classes also. In fact I believe they start in January. There is also a fly shop at the Hillsborough shooting range in the upstairs portion of the shop. I have been through the beginners, intermediate, and advanced courses at Delaware River Outfitters and do recommend them. Of course you could always save the money and learn from us. The link is Delaware River Outfitters website is www.droltd.com
Comparaduns v. Catskill style dries

Yeah, you boys are right about the comparaduns. They are so much more effective than your traditional dries. Too bad, too, because when I first decided to take up fly fishing and tying (winter 1991), I spent most of December and January studying pattern books and tying up traditional dries. Then spring comes along and I ply the Catskill waters with them and get laughed at by both the fish and the fishermen. One guy by the name of TJ Jimmerson comes up to me holding a comparadun, saying, "This is the stuff you gotta be usin'." Now twelve years later, I have a box strictly reserved for comparaduns. I do have a box with some traditional dries, but I swear I keep them because they just look good.
On another note, the chances of me able to fish dries anyway are few and far between. Seems like all these educated trout I angle for don't give me a chance to throw them dries. They much prefer the emerger patterns and/or nymphs.
This post is interesting.

Tells you jackasses what a comparadun is, anyway.

Does anyone know what the hell is a freestone stream?
I was also of the opinion that Comparaduns as well as No-Hackles were better than traditional Catskill style dry flies until the day I observed an extremely effective angler taking lots of fish--and exceptional fish--on a traditional Sulphur. I've observed this angler several times since the original encounter, and the results were always the same. The stream in question is an extremely popular one with super-educated wild trout which receives a lot of pressure. Consequently, I've come to the conclusion that the ability to present the fly flawlessly and precisely within the feeding lane, and at the right time, are paramount to fly design.