Sulphur MayflyDuns – Four-pack Selection

These four patterns were just added yesterday to as part of my product page. Here is the link:

I have made a few recent posts about some of these sulphur dun patterns and their fishing effectiveness, both on Spring Creek, and in the article on Muddy Creek in York County, Pennsylvania. Sulphurs occur on most trout streams across the country. This Four-pack Selection of Sulphur Duns presents together; mayfly dun patterns in the following styles: Thorax Dun, Parachute Dun, Comparadun, and Quill-body Comparadun.

If you have read these previous posts you are aware that I’ve written several articles about the synthetic, elastic, and translucent material made by DuPont, but called by different names depending on the fly tying material company that sells it. For those of you who haven’t seen these posts, once more, here we go again: Sexi-Floss, Dyna-Floss, Flexi-Floss, and the former Orvis name, Super-Floss (discontinued).

Here is a product review from The Beaverkill Angler Fly Shop in Roscoe, New York:

“Flexi-Floss / Floss Flex is a crinkly spandex material that is stretchable yet handles like floss (better and easier than floss – DB). Great for ribbing, wiggly legs, antennae, segmented wrapped midge bodies, and more. Flexi-Floss / Floss Flex is easy to use and adds a little extra shine to your flies. Best of all it doesn’t break down like rubber legs, so your flies will last longer.” Here is the page to the product:

The same product, Sexi-Floss, from Montana Fly Company, is available from Chris Helm at Whitetail Fly Tieing Supplies, in Toledo, Ohio. The bonus of ordering from Chris is you speak directly to him, he is an experienced and knowledgeable fly tier, he knows fly tying materials, and he personally receives and processes your order. Here is his phone number: 419-843-2106. Chris also has some of the best deer hair available, sorted and graded for specific fly tying uses. Here is a photo of the four pattern styles; all flies are tied by me, and all photos are mine as well:

Sulphur Dun Patterns, left to right:

Sulphur Dun Patterns, left to right: Thorax Dun, Parachute Dun, Comparadun, and Quill-body Comparadun. All except the Comparadun are tied with a synthetic quill body, made of Sulphur Orange (or amber) Sexi-Floss, Flexi-Floss, etc. Notice how slim, smooth, and as A. K. Best describes mayfly bodies, “waxy looking” they are. Highly imitative and this material floats. Nice!

This collection of four sulphur dun patterns is representative of the mayfly Ephemerella invaria. The “sulphurs” are a very eagerly anticipated hatch on many streams, particularly in the Eastern US. These mayflies occur with variations in color and size. This offering of four different pattern types and hook sizes is intended to increase the anglers chances of success when fishing a sulphur hatch. Trout can be selective to pattern types, particularly on flat water so it is beneficial to the angler to have more than one style and size of dun pattern when fishing this hatch. This proven collection of Sulphur Duns helps solve the difficulties of fishing sulphur drys to finicky trout. All four duns are tied with split tails.

On the tying recipes, all materials are listed in the order that they are tied in.


#14 Sulphur Comparadun. This pattern uses rabbit dubbing for the body, but the abdomen is reverse-dubbed and ribbed with the tying thread. You can see how this procedure adds realism to the fly, and it also tightens up the abdomen. For a video of my Reverse-Dubbing technique, check out my March Brown Comparadun youtube video.

Sulphur Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Bleached deer hair

Tails: Yellow Microfibetts, six fibers split 3/3

Abdomen: Amber rabbit dubbing, reverse-dubbed and ribbed with the tying thread

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing, more robust than the abdomen

Head: Orange

You can see that the thorax is more robust than the abdomen, this is an imitative design feature, but it  also is part of the tying process because you are building the thorax over the butt ends of the clipped deer hair wing. Because of the color variations of the Ephemerella invaria duns across their range, similar but different thread and dubbing colors can be used. Alternate threads to use would include Danville #2 Cream, #4 Pale Yellow, #8 Yellow, and #61 Light Olive.

#14 Sulphur Parachute Dun.

#14 Sulphur Parachute Dun. Note the Sexi-Floss abdomen and dubbed thorax. The parachute hackle helps the fly land right side up, and this design presents a different silhouette to the trout. In fact, while each of these patterns represents the same mayfly, each style presents a similar but different silhouette to the trout. Being prepared with multiple pattern styles can be your ace-in-the-hole when confronted with a sulphur hatch. In fact, this is true of most mayfly species.

The Sulphur Parachute Dun is made with the same abdomen of synthetic quill material as the Quill-body Comparadun, and has a dubbed thorax, but it has a poly-post wing and a parachute hackle. The advantage of parachute duns provides a highly-visible, low-floating, imitative design. It is generally considered a better dry fly pattern for fishing riffles, runs, and typically rougher pocket water than the no-hackle Comparadun.

Sulphur Parachute Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 – 18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Light dun polypropylene post

Hackle: Light ginger

Tails: Yellow Microfibetts

Abdomen: Sulphur orange Flexi-Floss

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing

Head: Orange

While I have used this material for years, I recently started using the polypropylene as a wing post, rather than the E. P. Fibers as posted on some of my recent flies. This was done for ease of use and less preparation time. More flies per hour means a raise in pay. I also found out that the crinkly nature of the polypropylene is much easier to wrap around, or post, at the base of the wing. The E. P. Fibers are very slippery, while the kinky nature of the poly yarn seems to grab and hold the thread, eliminating a point of (sometimes) fly tying exasperation. Check the photo, you can see the zig-zags in the wing material.

#14 Quill-body Sulphur Comparadun

#14 Quill-body Sulphur Comparadun. This design features the abdomen of Flexi-Sexi-Dyna Floss.

The Sulphur Quill-body Comparadun is a personal pattern design variation that has a more realistic body silhouette with a slim, waxy-smooth abdomen that contrasts with the more robust fur-dubbed thorax. The abdomen is made from a synthetic quill material that is highly translucent, and it also floats, thereby adding increased flotation to this pattern.

Sulphur Quill-body Comparadun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Bleached deer hair

Tails: Yellow Microfibetts

Abdomen: Orange Flexi-floss

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing

Head: Orange

#14 Sulphur Thorax Dun.

#14 Sulphur Thorax Dun. I call this the Poly-wing Thorax Dun.

The Sulphur Thorax Dun offers yet another pattern variation that helps fool trout. The wing is placed a little farther from the hook eye than the Parachute Dun, and the hackle is wound conventionally, but clipped on the bottom. Like all the patterns in this set, the Sulphur Thorax Dun features a split tail with the synthetic, translucent quill abdomen and a fur-dubbed thorax. Like each pattern in this collection, the Thorax Dun offers a different silhouette on the surface. This is an asset to the angler who is prepared with multiple fly designs for any mayfly hatch.

As far as I know, Barry Beck created the Poly-wing Thorax Dun as an alternate style of making the Marinaro Thorax Dun, a fly design using the broad, webby part of neck hackles, created by Pennsylvania author and fly tier, Vincent C. Marinaro. Through personal correspondence, Vince’s Thorax Dun debuted among the New Dry Flies, in Ray Bergman’s second edition of Trout, 1952, with this comment: “I think it to be an outstanding development in fly construction.” And Ray adds, “Mr. Marinaro tells me he is working on a book concerning this and other flies. It should prove very interesting.” Modern Fly Fly Code was published in 1950, while I happen to know that the correspondence between Ray Bergman and Vince Marinaro took place in 1948-49. Ray saved every letter, and during my research for the Ray Bergman biography I wrote for Forgotten Flies, 1999, I was privileged to meet with Ray’s niece and nephew, Norma and Buddy Christian, of Nyack, New York. Ray hand-copied every letter into his own hand, in pencil, onto a tablet not unlike those we used to get in grade school. He did that for his wife, Grace, whom I believe typed all his manuscripts. It was a honor and a privilege to have access to this material. Getting back to Barry Beck’s Poly-wing Thorax Dun, along with Jim Smethers, one of the other fly shop tiers, I used to occasionally tie the pattern for them in the early 1990’s. Any mayfly dun can be imitated with this pattern design style.

Sulphur Thorax Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook #14 – #18

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing: Light dun polypropylene yarn

Tails: Yellow Mivrofibetts

Abdomen: Sulphur Orange Flexi-Floss

Hackle: Light ginger

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing

Head: Orange

On the hackled patterns, alternate colors of hackle would be medium ginger, and various shades of light, medium, and sandy dun. I have a beautiful bleached grizzly cape from Bill Keough that would also make some great-looking sulphur dun patterns, considering the cream and light-ginger mottled coloration.

Here are a couple Spring Creek brown trout that were fooled by these flies:

Spring Creek Brown - Sulphur

Spring Creek Brown – taken on a #14 Sulphur Parachute Dun.

Spring Creek Brown - Sulphur Thorax Dun.

Spring Creek Brown – taken on #14 Sulphur Thorax Dun.

These four patterns are also being offered together in an attractive boxed set. The set is identified with a printed label, a signature card, the flies are mounted on foam strips, and they are beautifully packaged in a clear plastic case. This attention to detail and quality of the flies in a boxed set makes this a tasteful gift. The set includes three each of the four patterns: Sulphur Comparadun, Sulphur Quill-body Comparadun,  Sulphur Parachute Dun, and Sulphur Thorax Dun. Available hook sizes are #14, #16, and #18. Individual flies are available in all three hook sizes, while the sets contain all patterns of the same hook size.

Don Bastian's Sulphur Dun Selection.

Don Bastian’s Boxed Sulphur Dun Selection.

What it imitates:  Ephmerella invaria mayfly sub-imago (dun)

When to fish it:  Depending on locale: mid-April in the southern Appalachians, late April through June in the northeastern US

Where to fish it:  Sulphurs inhabit most of the freestone and limestone creeks, streams, and rivers in the eastern and mid-western United States and Canada. They are also present in some tailwater fisheries such as the Delaware River.

How to fish it:  Sulphur dun patterns should generally be fished on 5x tippet, in some cases 6x, but only with smaller hook sizes and smooth water. My personal experience fishing sulphurs is always with 5x, using a leader of ten to fourteen feet.

Thank you for your time to visit and read my blog. To purchase these patterns or the boxed set, please visit:

4 comments on “Sulphur MayflyDuns – Four-pack Selection

  1. Kelly L says:

    Don, they are all beautiful. But that first one…it is absolutely breath taking. Congrats on another gorgeous series. LOVED THEM!

    • Don Bastian says:

      Hi Kelly;
      Hi and thanks for your comments! So, I take it that you are a “natural girl?” 🙂 That’s the one with no synthetic body material…I like that version too, but I like ’em all. :mrgreen:
      I’m working on another set like those, same 4 styles of PMD’s – Pale Morning Duns. And a new, revised version of Bastian’s Floating Caddis Emerger is about to make its debut. Wait for it….! 🙂
      Always, thank you for your support and comments!

  2. Kelly L says:

    I did not realize it was totally natural. I like a combination. All natural, all synthetic, and a combination. But, since the first one stood out, for dries, maybe I do like all natural. I have a ton of synthetics here. They hold up very well usually. Your flies are remarkable Donnie, keep up the great work!

  3. Don Bastian says:

    Hi Kelly!
    It just turned out in this series of dun patterns that I ended up using all rabbit dubbing on that Sulphur Comparadun. I have also used Superfine synthetic dubbing on the abdomen and rabbit in the thorax. I figure the synthetic dubbing produces a tighter, smoother look, while the fur thorax looks more “buggy,” more natural. I’m happy you like them, thanks for your compliments on my work! I guess I’ll keep on tying! 😉

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