Sulphur Parachute Mayfly Duns

Not too long ago I posted photos and recipes for some dry fly patterns: a Sulphur Thorax Dun and Sulphur Parachute Dun. This post contains photos of the same Sulphur Parachute pattern – for review and a few different photos, but I also present another variation, a Sulphur Parachute Thorax Dun. What is the difference? The Thorax Parachute Dun pattern has the wing positioned slightly more toward the center of the hook shank, and to make it different and give my customer more options to imitate the slightly different coloration that can occur with the Sulphur or Ephemerella invaria duns, I used dubbing only on the Thorax Parachute Dun pattern, and ribbed it with the tying thread, whereas the Standard Parachute Dun has an abdomen of Sexi-Floss.

Here are some images:

#16 Sulphur Parachute Dun

#16 Sulphur Parachute Dun, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Sulphur Parachute Dun

Components listed in order of application to hook:

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

Thread: Danville Flymaster 6/0 #7 Orange

Wing Post: E. P. Fibers in Light Dun or Tan

Hackle: Light ginger or ginger

Tails: Six fibers split 3/3 of yellow Microfibetts

Abdomen: Sulphur orange or amber (same color depending on mfg.) Sexi-Floss

Thorax: Amber, sulphur orange, or orange rabbit fur

Head: Orange

Tying Instructions:

1) Start thread on hook, lay thread base for wing placement on location 1/3 distance behind hook eye.

2) Place E. P. Fibers for wing (these need to be sized / bunched to the hook / fly size ahead of time), on hook shank and using a pinch wrap, make three or four wraps in place to lash them to the hook. Then make one wrap in front of and one wrap behind the fibers.

3) Grasp the wing fibers, pull them up (or down – see my Parachute Adams tying post), and post around the base of the fibers until the wing is gathered together.

4) Attach the hackle to the base of the wing post. Be sure to clip the barbs from the stem at the tie-in point, rather than stripping them off.

5) Wind to hook point, attach Microfibetts. See the Hendrickson / Red Quill Parachute pattern post for the method to divide these fibers. Four figure-eight wraps are used to divide the fibers after you flare them out with your left hand index finger and thumb.

6) Advance thread to thorax, attach Sexi-Floss. Stretch the Sexi-Floss and wind thread to base of tail. Return thread to thorax. Wrap the abdomen. Tie off with three – four tight wraps, trim Sexi-Floss.

7) Apply dubbing to thorax, move tying thread to back of head, not hook eye. Ideally you want to tie the hackle off slightly behind the hook eye.

8) Wind hackle counter-clockwise to avoid trapping fibers when you finish it off. Again, see the Parachute Adams and Hendrickson Parachute posts.

#16 Sulphur parachute Duns, one dozen, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

#16 Sulphur Parachute Duns, one dozen, tied and photographed by Don Bastian. You can see that I did a half-and-half mix of the wings, using both light dun and tan E. P. Fibers. This mixes it up just a bit to help fool more trout.

#16 Sulphur Thorax Parachute Dun, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

#16 Sulphur Thorax Parachute Dun, tied and photographed by Don Bastian. Notice the wing placement is a little closer to the hook point, in fact just about half-way between hook eye and point. Notice the abdominal ribbing, this is reverse-dubbed. See details below.

Sulphur Thorax Parachute Dun

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, #14 to #18, in this case I used a straight eye Daiichi hook

Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster #7 Orange

Wing: E. P Fibers in Light Dun or Tan

Hackle: Light ginger or light dun

Tail: Six Yellow Microfibetts split 3/3

Abdomen: Amber rabbit dubbing, wound over from rear to front with tying thread for ribbing

Thorax: Amber rabbit dubbing, or a slightly different color – sulphur orange or orange, could be used

Head: Orange

Tying Instructions:
1) Set the wing and hackle as in the instructions above.

2) Ditto for the tail fibers

3) Advance thread to base of wing, apply dubbing, sparingly, the goal being to wind dubbed thread to the base of the tail, and run out of dubbing exactly at the end of the body. Then merely wind the tying thread right from the bobbin, up to the base of the wing, spacing it evenly to create ribs.

4) Dub the thorax.

5) Wind the hackle counter-clockwise, lock in place with three or four thread wraps, trim off, build head and whip finish.

It is sometimes necessary to pull or clip guard hairs from the dubbing to tidy up the body. You could use Superfine Dubbing for the abdomen and rabbit for the thorax;  I chose to use rabbit fur on these flies.

One dozen #16 Sulphur Thorax Parachute Duns, tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

One dozen #16 Sulphur Thorax Parachute Duns, tied and photographed by Don Bastian. Notice the split tails. This is highly imitative and also helps to stabilize the fly on the water.

Both these pattern styles offer the option of changing hook sizes, wing, tail, hackle, and dubbing colors. Accordingly, a multitude of mayflies can be imitated with this pattern style: March Browns, Blue-wing Olives, Slate Drakes, Hendricksons, Green Drakes, Pale Morning Duns, etc.

Hendrickson – Red Quill – Parachute Dry

As part of a custom dry fly order I’m working on, this is a second pattern installment, one of my versions of the Hendrickson – Red Quill, or Male Hendrickson Parachute Dry pattern. This dressing once again uses the stretchy body synthetic material, known on the fly tying material market by multiple names: Sexi-Floss, Dyna-Floss, Floss-Flex (formerly by Orvis as Super Floss – they discontinued it), etc.

Here is the Hendrickson Male or Red Quill Parachute:

#14 Red Quill Parachute Dry - tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

#14 Red Quill Parachute Dry – tied and photographed by Don Bastian. This photo and the one following are taken at different shutter speeds, and therefore they present different lighting and depth-of-field.

I have presented both these macro photos with different lighting, since the exposure may not accurately reflect the actual color of the fly. I suggest you combine what you see with what I write; generally there is truth (from me at least) in both the photo and written word. At least I endeavor to make it so.

#14 Hendrickson - Red Quill Parachute, tied with Sexi-Floss, etc. abdomen.

#14 Hendrickson – Red Quill Parachute, tied with Sexi-Floss, etc. abdomen.

Hendrickson Parachute Dry

Hook: Standard dry fly #12 and #14

Thread: Danville #47 Tobacco Brown

Wing: Dark dun Para-post

Tails: Dark dun Microfibetts, 6 fibers split 3/3 –  if you examine the group shot closely, you’ll see the division of the tail fibers

Abdomen: Brown – Sexi-Dyna-Super-Flex Floss

Thorax: Reddish brown rabbit dubbing

Hackle: Dark dun

Head: Red-brown

Tying Instructions:

1) Start tying thread at hook eye, position wing material about 1/3 distance from eye to hook point.

2) Post the base of the wing with thread about 3/32″ to 1/8″.

3) Attach clipped hackle stem upright to base of wing post.

4) Wind to hook point, clip tag thread end, attach six Microfibetts tail fibers. Wind to end of body. The tail fibers are divided using a left-hand thumb and finger pinch, ending with thumb-only pressure against hook bend. This makes the fibers flare out. Take the three fibers on the near side, using your left index finger tip to angle them toward you, and then divide the fibers with four figure-eight wraps using maximum tension thread wraps. YOU MUST do this with maximum thread tension, and you must also move your grasp w/left hand from right to left side of tail, back and forth, on the fibers as you progress, to stabilize and counteract the thread torque as the wraps are made. Up to speed, this takes me six to eight seconds to tie a split tail. But then again, since I started using this technique over twenty years ago, I bet I have tied more than 10,000 to 12,000 dry flies with this method and material. Experience and repetition is what really makes you good at what you do.

5) Advance thread to thorax, attach Sexi-Floss. Holding it secure with max thread tension, stretch it, and then wind back over the material, then back to thorax again. Be careful not to compress the tail fibers with the tying thread or the Sexi-Floss. The thread forms the underbody, and with the #47 Tobacco Brown thread and translucence of the Sexi-Floss, creates the lovely and realistic reddish-brown appearance as on the natural Ephemerella subvaria mayfly dun.

6) Wind the Sexi-Floss to form the abdomen. Secure with 3 -4 tight wraps, trim excess.

7) Apply dubbing and create thorax.

8) Wind the hackle counter-clockwise, five to six turns, tie off.

For additional instructions of the tying procedure, see my recent Parachute Adams post.

A dozen Hendrickson Pareachute Dyyuns, ready to fish!

A dozen #14 Hendrickson Parachute Duns, ready to fish! Tied and photographed by Don Bastian.

Between the split tails and the parachute hackle, this is a land-right-side-up-every-time fly pattern. Good tying style for any may fly pattern.

I will be happy at anytime when I am demo tying on locations to demonstrate and teach you this split-tail technique. I learned it from Barry Beck, back in my commercial tying days. This trick alone increased my Comparadun tying production from 9 to 10 flies an hour to 17 or 18. It’s true, I was once timed at a demonstration in Ontario – a #14 Light Cahill Comparadun, three minutes flat. Including head cement and fly out of the vise.

Also, following up on the successful bidding of my private fly tying lesson donation this past December to the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester,Vermont, I have recently started teaching private fly tying lessons right here in my rural Cogan Station, Pennsylvania, home. It is peaceful and quiet, St. Michael’s Road is lightly traveled; deer, turkeys, and other wildlife sightings, even the occasional black bear, are common. The view to the north of Bobst Mountain is gorgeous, and I’m far enough away from Williamsport that the light pollution is minimal – you can actually see the Milky Way in a clear night sky. On  warm summer night, if you leave your bedroom windows open, you may even hear the howl of coyotes.

If you come, you are my guest and are treated accordingly. All fly tying materials are provided, you only need to bring your vise, threaded bobbins, a light, and tools. Depending on time of year, your visit can also include a little hosted fishing if desired. The standard package is a morning arrival, stay all day, comfortable and quiet overnight accommodations, with a full breakfast the next morning. I do all the cooking and care for your comfort during your stay.

We can tie what ever you wish – drys, classic wet flies, saltwater patterns such as Lefty’s Deceiver, Half and Half, Clouser Minnows; hairwing salmon and steelhead patterns, nymphs, emergers, soft-hackles, 18th century Orvis and other classic and historic patterns, or bucktails and Rangeley and eastern style streamers. I specialize in classic wet flies, Carrie Stevens (teaching her original methods of material placement and usage), and other tiers of classic streamer patterns, 18th Century Lake Flies, and traditional patterns. Small groups of two or three persons can be accommodated.

For information, rates, and to schedule a day or two of personal fly tying instruction, please contact me at:

More On Synthetic Floss Material, AKA Sexi-Floss, etc.

I just did a bit of checking. Following up on my recent post, Quill-Bodied Sulphur Duns…here’s the deal with this material. We’re talking about the stretchy material that is made by DuPont. It’s kind of crinkly, and has a sheen to it. It is also very translucent. It makes excellent synthetic quill bodies for mayfly duns and spinners. It is superior to any natural quill material I know of, in that it is less expensive, comes ready-to-use with no stripping, bleaching, preparation, or dyeing. It is durable. One six-inch strand will tie abdomens on ten to twelve flies. It floats, lending added benefits to dry fly patterns.

Orvis formerly marketed it as Flexi-Floss. They discontinued it.

Spirit River still has it – marketed as Flex-Floss.

Cascade Crest still has it – marketed as Dyna-Floss.

Montana Fly Company still has it – marketed as Sexi-Floss.

Cascade Crest has the most colors, with 22.

All these companies are dealers and sell to fly shops. Bob Marriott’s Fly Shop stocks the Spirit River Flex-Floss. Chris Helm, owner of Whitetail Fly Tieing Supplies in Toledo, Ohio, stocks the Montana Fly Company Sexi-Floss in six or seven colors. That’s about all you really need, unless you want to get into the reds, pinks, purple, chartreuse, etc. Remember that you can vary the thread color of your under-bodies, and get a number of different shades of the finished bodies on your flies.

Chris took his on-line catalog off line, but you can speak directly with him when you call to order: 419-843-2106.

March Brown Spinners

Last Thursday I went up Big Pine Creek, following PA Rt. 44 into the village of Waterville, located at the confluence of Big and Little Pine Creeks in Lycoming County. The shop is 22 miles from my house, all on back roads. But it’s a nice drive through beautiful country; I take PA Rt. 973 West from Quiggleville through Salladasburg to get to Rt. 44. I was on my way fishing, and I wanted to stop in McConnell’s Country Store & Fly Shop to get a few tying materials. Here is a link to their web site:

I was surprised since it was  Thursday that my close friend Dave Rothrock, of Jersey Shore, was working in the fly shop. He normally works weekends. Dave and I chatted and caught up a little bit on things, but regarding the fishing, he said the shop had been completely cleaned out of March Brown fly patterns of every sort. This was due to the good fishing conditions on Big and Little Pine Creeks, in large part due to the warm winter, lack of snow pack, and stable stream flows. Good fishing created higher than normal demand for flies, consequently the shop was sold out. I haven’t tied commercially for quite a few years, but I figured I would tie up some March Brown Spinners for the shop to help them out, even though they didn’t order them, I reasoned they would be happy to get some. And I could use a little extra cash, can’t we all? 😉 So on Saturday afternoon, I tied up three dozen March Brown Spinners in size #10. Below is a group shot of my work:

March Brown Spinners, size #10.

After I did the first dozen, I thought for the heck of it, I wanted to see how my timing was. If I still “got it” for production tying. So I clocked myself, start to finish, one dozen. When I took the last fly from the vise, I hit my stopwatch and the timer read: thirty-nine minutes, twenty-eight seconds. That’s three minutes fifteen seconds per fly. I was kind of pleased with that, but I did mess with the tail for over a minute on the first fly right off the bat. The first fly was four minutes eighteen seconds…dismal for a commercial tying time.

I once had a visiting friend from England, who did not tie flies, but was curious about it, having never seen it done. He wanted to watch me one day. He sat there and timed me, commenting each time I finished a fly. I remember I was tying #14 Sulphur Spinners, my best time on those (with split tail) was two minutes, fifteen seconds. But I plodded on after my four-and-a-quarter minute March Brown Spinner. I did have the wing material prepped ahead of time. But that would really only add about two additional minutes, still keeping the average time -per-fly at about 3-1/2 minutes each.

Here is a macro of a single fly:

March Brown Spinner, size #10. The rabbit dubbed thorax actually suggests the legs.

March Brown Spinner

The ingredients are listed in order of tying procedure.

Hook: Standard dry fly hook, size #10. This hook is a Dia-Riki 300.

Thread: Danville 6/0 Flymaster, No. 47 Tobacco Brown. I’m going to start listing the Danville Chenille Company thread color numbers from their website for clarification with my fly patterns, after a recent forum discussion of the correct color of orange floss for Gray Ghost bodies.

Wing: Clear Hi-Vis or Enrico’s Sea Fibers (both are the same product, different name). This comes in a large hank or bundle, and it must be sorted – separated from the main bundle; and sized according to fly size – a bit tricky but not difficult once one does it a few times. Experience is a good teacher.

Tail: Two fibers of moose body hair. Moose body hair is very strong and durable.

Body – Abdomen: Brown Flexi-Floss, * wound over tying thread base.

Body – Thorax: Rusty brown rabbit dubbing.

Head: Tying thread, cemented.

* The footnote for the Flexi-floss – well, this is confusing. Like the Hi-Vis and Sea Fibers, fly tying material companies market the same product and call it by different names. I guess they have to do that. It is confusing, even to experienced fly tiers, to say the least.

Independently of other fly tiers, I began years ago using Flexi-floss for mayfly bodies, specifically for dry fly bodies. I made that decision because I discovered that Flexi-floss floats. Now, Flexi-floss, Sexi-Floss, Super-floss, Dyna-Floss, Floss-Flex, and I don’t know what else it is called, but this is a DuPont product. All the same. I googled “Flexi-Floss” and found a Fly Fisherman Magazine article by Mike Hogue, owner of Badger Creek Fly Tying Materials in Ithaca, New York. Mike would be a good material source to check out.

Mike’s article was about “The Flexi-Floss Dun.” I don’t get the photos on my computer for some reason, and Mike’s article of unknown date, was nevertheless informative. He did however lump Wapsi’s Span-Flex into the same group with Flexi-Floss, associating it as the same material. Span-Flex is not the same as Flexi-Floss, it is different. Span-Flex is a latex product. It has a dull, matte finish. It comes in different sizes, not diameters as the article stated because it is not round, but rather is rectangular or square depending on the size.  Span Flex comes in three or four sizes. The Flexi-Floss is also of a squarish shape, but more oval, not cut flat like Span-Flex. Both products are very stretchy. Span-Flex, however, will eventually rot. So it is not a good material for a framed fly. I have some Latex Caddis Larva in my fly box, made from Span-flex, that are at least five years old, and the bodies came apart. So what, you say? The Latex Caddis Larva is a pattern I got from Rick Whorwood in Ontario back in the mid-90’s before Span-flex came on the market. Back then we used dental gum bands that your kids put on their braces. One round gum band would make three size #18 flies, but the material had to be wound with hackle pliers. Span-flex cured that difficulty. The Latex Caddis Larva is a great fly by the way, one I would have on a short list of nymph patterns for anywhere in the country, due to its imitative effectiveness of the net-spinning Hydropsyche caddis larva.

I often used a #18 Latex Caddis Larva on Spring Creek during my live, stream-side instructional nymph fishing demos, more than once resulting in hookups of six, eight, or more trout, prompting immediate and keen interest in the fly by onlookers and their desire to obtain the “magic bullet” pattern. I usually planned for this and had some for sale. 😉  I have another story about this fly too, for another time. Span-Flex is a good material, it provides translucence and is very much affected by different shades of the tying thread. Just don’t make more than a year’s supply of any pattern with it.

Flexi-floss – is a glossy material. Also very stretchy. It floats. Span-flex by comparison, sinks. You can put Span-flex in a glass of water and it will sink. Put Flexi-floss in some water, and even if you force it down, it rises back to the surface. Hence, a superior material to incorporate into dry fly bodies. It is also translucent, and is the best synthetic quill body substitute I have ever seen. It requires no soaking. It is durable. It comes in many colors, and like the Span-flex, is also of significant advantage for fly pattern design, due to its translucence and being effected by the color of tying thread used underneath it. One color of Flexi-floss can be made into a number of different shades by changing the base thread color. It has been used for legs, ribbing, etc., but its real boon to tiers of trout flies is its ability to mimic not only the appearance of, as A. K. Best, says the “smooth, waxy-looking bodies of mayflies,” but it excels beyond other materials with its translucence.

I have samples of Blue Quills, Baetis (different colors), Cornutas, Quill Gordons, Chocolate Duns, Mahogany Duns, Slate Drakes, March Brown Duns, Sulphurs, Light Cahills, Pale Evening Duns, Pale Morning Duns, and spinners for these patterns with the range of colors of Flexi-floss.

Tying Instructions

Step 1: The fly is tied by first setting a short thread base for the wing. Then set the wing about 1/3 the distance between the eye and hook point, attaching it with a thread wrap and then securing it with about ten tight figure-eight wraps.

Step 2: Wind tying thread to the hook point, stop and attach two moose body hairs. Begin winding to the barb. By placing your finger on top of the fibers, they will slid to the sides of the hook shank. Moderate thread tension will move them into place on the sides of the hook shank by the time you reach the end of the body. Note in the macro photo, the tail comes off both sides of the abdomen, like a real bug, not off the top like most other patterns.

Step 3: Wind thread forward to the thorax, and attach the Flexi-floss with one wrap. Maximize thread tension (to hold the body material in place, if it slips out you need more tension), and s-t-r-e-t-c-h the Flexi-floss, then wind over it to the base of the tail, stopping a smidgen ahead of the tail, and then wind thread forward to the thorax. Leave a little room behind the wings for the dubbed thorax.

Step 4: Wind the Flexi-floss forward, secure with at least 3, and no more than 4 wraps. And I mean tight. Cut off. One six-inch section of Flexi-Floss, cut from the cable tie bundle, will make 6 – 8 size #10 flies.

Step 5: Dub the thread and wind the dubbing in figure-eight wraps, keeping the wing at right angles to the hook shank. Some spinners I have seen have a thorax that is too sparse, skinny. I like to imitate the natural bulge of the thorax of mayfly spinners; a more realistic body silhouette triggers more strikes.  Finish wrapping and whip finish the head, and the fly is done.

I just finished two dozen size #18 and #20 Dark Rusty CDC Comparaduns for an order; the nice thing about Flexi-floss, is it will split. Use your bodkin to skewer the middle of the material about a half-inch from one end, and pull the Flexi-floss away. This will split it; then simply grab the ends and pull it apart. This yields smaller width sections of material that can be used on tiny flies.

The bodies of these small patterns I dressed have a “quill body.” I’ll try to take photos tomorrow and add them to this post. That way folks can see the benefit of this stuff. Hope you like the flies!

(Edit – May 1st: One of these days I’m going to start making tying videos and put a few on Youtube I guess).

#16 Blue Quill Polywing Thorax Dun, tied with Flexi-Floss body.