Lockdown Day 7

Corona Lockdown Day Seven


Can you believe it, we haven’t left the house in a week, not for anything, not to walk the dog or head for the shops. I wonder when was the last time, if ever, that has been the case? Some of you may well be out there having suffered this restriction for even longer, but I do remain convinced that it is the best strategy for everyone for the time being. So well done if you have stuck to it, double points score if you have used the time to tie some flies too.

So having covered a lot of techniques in the past week today I am going to look simply at a variation of the spun duns, especially well-suited to tiny flies where even the finest of deer hair tends to be a little bit unruly .

(at the bottom there is also a link to a very interesting variation tied by Davie McPhail, Davie does some of the very best fly tying instructional videos on you tube, his CDC  dubbing wing dun version is done quite differently to the “spun dun” but I really like it and I am sure that you will have some fun experimenting with it)


The Poly Yarn or CDC Spun Dun.

I have waxed on about Spun Duns I admit, but they are tremendously effective and relatively simple to manufacture. There is one addition to this tribe however that is worthy of note. Years back I tied some using CDC instead of hair, particularly the tiny #20’s and smaller, where the hair is rather course and problematic. I recall publishing an article about these flies at the time and being, at least moderately, lambasted by more than one commentator, such patterns have however become far more accepted over the years and you will see a number of variations out there.

However Spun Duns and Comparaduns are tricky to tie well in small sizes and the use of CDC or indeed poly yarn makes a very simplistic pattern that is remarkably effective. They look too simple, I must admit that I didn’t have much faith in the first ones I manufactured, but they worked, and they worked really well when the fish were feeding on tiny insects. I suspect that the CDC versions have the edge when it comes to effectiveness but they lack the easy drying and durability of the Poly Yarn ones. So I carry both.

The simple split tail and thread body CDC spun dun,an exceptionally good fly particularly in small sizes

There was an interesting story associated with the development of these patterns however, which I suspect provides some insight into the effectiveness of CDC. Much is made of the material’s floating properties but I think that perhaps the softness of the material is at least equally important. You see I suspect that when a fish takes the fly, CDC very closely approximates the “feel” that a real insect would provide, wrapped about a tiny hook the fish fails to notice the deception and therefore hangs on to the pattern longer than one manufactured from stiffer materials.

One day out fishing alone and having caught sufficient trout to allow me the comfort of careless experimentation I came across a fish. It wasn’t large and was feeding amongst some water grass, rising regularly every few seconds to a hatch of tiny olives. I determined that I wouldn’t strike before I so much as threw the fly out, I wanted to see what would happen, and made a presentation to the fish with a tiny #22 CDC spun dun. The fly drifted down on the current, the fish move slightly to intercept it and swallowed, I did nothing, the fish then moved approximately a foot to the right and intercepted another real fly, at which point I struck, hooking the fish well back in the throat.

I like to think that after its release that fish was still thinking “You know I wasn’t entirely sure about the first mayfly, but I would have sworn that the second was real”. Perhaps the “feel” of the fly does make a difference, if not in eliciting takes, at least in improving hook ups, and for that reason these versions of the spun dun hold a special place in my fly boxes. Obviously Poly Yarn and CDC don’t spin or flare in the same way that deer hair does, so it requires a little manipulation and tugging about to get the right effect, but on small flies it is worth the effort and a simpler and more effective tiny mayfly or midge pattern would be hard to find.


As mentioned at the beginning, here is another variation of a really nice looking pattern very similar to the spun dun tied by Davie McPhail. What he calls a CDC dubbing wing Dry Fly.. I really like the look of this and I think that you will too.

Davie has a huge number of excellent fly tying videos on line and if you are locked up at home and looking for more inspiration I recommend you to investigate his channel.

Most of the information on these posts comes directly from my books “Essential Fly Tying Techniques” and “Guide Flies”..

If you are keen to push on and not to wait for the various instructions coming you can download the books on line and benefit from a 50% discount. The links and discount codes are shown below:

Discount code Essential Fly Tying Techniques: DR62J Code will expire 17 April 2020

Discount code Guide Flies : SB94S Code will expire 17 April 2020

Thanks for reading, stay safe out there.

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