Comparaduns, Wet Dubbing & Old Men Who Don’t Understand Trailing Shucks

Guest Blogger: Brandon Sausner

Brandon's Dad

Brandon’s Dad

My father is a lifelong fly fisherman who melds fly names into general categories, built his retirement home on a big cast dry fly stream and tends to favor fluffy Catskill style dry flies. I know he has about 10 fly boxes – mostly dries, some nymphs, and his only streamer being a Hornberg; which isn’t even a streamer. I tie him flies by the pile and as of two years ago I achieved “better than a fly shop” status, and on the patterns he prefers I’m pretty close. Once the fish start rising he fishes 5-7 days a week and places almost nothing over the call of top water action.

When he turned 70 my nine siblings decided to plan a birthday party for him with people flying in from both coasts. It was my job to call and get him to the party. I had to cajole him to forego potential rising trout and only when I lied and said people had already paid for flights did he 100% commit to coming to the party. All that nonsense aside, he’s the best fishing partner in the world. He never says he can’t go and he owns a great Clackacraft that pulls with a 4 cylinder.

The real problem is his fly attrition and disgruntled conversion to a few “new to him” ideas about fly patterns. The Comparadun was the first medicine I needed him take; he fought like a 9 year old against it. The lack of hackle was more than he could endure. I’d give him a pile of Catskill style and comparaduns and they didn’t all go in the box, or he would insult me by ordering some flies through the mail. Only after several drubbings of five fish to one on his home water was I able to convert him. Getting him to fish the flies with an antron trailing shuck didn’t take quite as long.  Here in N.Y. we have the famed West Branch of the Delaware River, an epic tail water with ultra-selective trout. Down around Deposit N.Y. you can find the Delaware River Club, a fly shop and lodge that blends its own dubbing to more resemble the fly color when it is wet on the water. The D.R.C. dubbing is my favorite buy of the last few years in the area of fly tying and I use with great success on almost all of my patterns but it looks wacky and unnatural. The blends are so strange some times that you always have to read the package to ensure you’ve got the right stuff. Telling pops “yeah Dad, that is a Hendrickson” was getting exhausting. He converted slowly but probably would have never if he didn’t run out of flies in his rats nests collection of fly boxes. I am enjoying all the “I told you so” moments on the stream, saying things like “I half caught that fish for you”. Now all I gotta do is get him to use a few proper fly names so I know what he wants me to tie.

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