A Job ‘Dun’ Well- by Dave Wiltshire

featured, Step-by-Step Tutorials — By on February 9, 2011 12:16 pm

For the fly fisherman, the upwinged flies provide a great deal of interest. Each stage of their fascinating life-cycle requires a selection of patterns. Yes, there are days when a fish will move to any old fly, but there are times when they become stubbornly locked onto a specific stage. When the fish start to take duns from the surface, you may need to employ a dedicated pattern – especially if you find that they are turning and refusing an emerger. To remain successful, the important factor here is size and footprint. This paradun sits well on the surface, tails splayed helping stability and footprint in equal measures. The post-wing helps to suggest the upright wing of the dun. This is a superb pattern, and the tutorial I have given here is just the blue-print for any fully emerged up-wing: change the colour and size to suit the natural.

Throughout the tying of this pattern, I aim to avoid any sort of bulk in the fly. The naturals are dainty, delicate specimens and your imitation should try to address this. Each wrap if thread counts when you’re tying. Use your materials sparingly and your thread wisely and soon you’ll be producing delicate but robust imitations.

Hook: Partridge SLD #16
Thread: Sheer, 14/0
Tails: Coq de Leon
Abdomen: Orvis Spectrablend, light olive
Wing post: Funky Fibre, grey
Thorax: Grey squirrel
Hackle: Silver Badger, Cock

Cast on the thread and wind half way down the hank of the hook

Catch in the Coq de Leon fibres. I like to pass a thread wrap under the tails to help them to splay.

Trap the butts of the tails fibres down along the top of the hook

Dub the thread and wind from the thorax back towards the tails. You are aiming for a neat, tapered body. Aim for the thread to finish next to the tails.

Now wind the thread in open wraps through the dubbed body to create a rib. Try spinning the thread into a rope before winding. Also using marker pens, or even wax, to colour the thread can give a more prominent rib. Your thread should finish at the thorax.

Pick up the thread with the wing post material and place it on top of the hook.

Holding both ends, twist it clockwise through 90 degrees. It should look like a ‘spent’ wing.

Pull both wings downwards to meet under the hook

Hold both ends together and swing the wing up to the top of the hook. Secure with a few wraps of thread either side of the post.

Now dub the thread and wind a small, spiky thorax around the base of the post. Fill in the gap behind the eye with the dubbing too.

Catch in the hackle feather around the post

Wind the hackle around the post ensuring that each wrap is below the previous one. Whip finishing under the hackle is my preference. You could whip finish behind the eye if you prefer.

Trim the hackle tip and stem and the paradun is finished.

Tips for a tying a slender dun imitation:

Tying the Parachute post in last and under the hook shank allows:
1) A durable hackle
2) A neat thorax
3) No unnecessary build up of the body (often a danger when tying the post in first and under the thorax / dubbing)
4) The wing is in the perfect position with no need to add extra thread wraps to get it in position
I tie all my parachute hackles in this way and find it an effective , long lasting method which helps me achieve the slender profile I prefer in a dry fly.

The funky fibre that I use for the wing post is available in a range of colours. It is a string, light fibre which can be easily split to give you the exact diameter of wing you require, Available from www.funkyflytying.co.uk

Perhaps it’s a confidence thing, but I feel that the rib, even on a dry fly, makes the pattern all the more attractive. You may have noticed that I rib the fly with my tying thread. This serves several purposes:
a) I am not tying in extra materials which may increase bulk
b) I can change the gauge if the rib by flattening or spinning up my thread
c) It ensures my thread is a tying material in its own right and not simply the vehicle with which to attach materials to the hook.

As ever, less is more. Choosing a suitable dubbing is essential. You need one that is soft and pliable, allowing small amounts to be worked around the thread. My preferred choices are either Orvis Spectrablend or Wapsi Superfine.

For this, and further tutorials, please visit www.riverflybox.co.uk

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A Job ‘Dun’ Well- by Dave Wiltshire, 8.5 out of 10 based on 8 ratings


  1. Dave,

    A absolutley beautiful pattern — what a nice blend of old and new materials — I plan on tying some up — I’ll bet a a great producer of fish!


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  2. Murray (lykos33) says:

    NICE! I will definitely have to tie some of these up…with a few material subs due to smaller material stockpile. I really like the idea of whip finishing on the post rather than at the eye…I see some future frustration until I get that technique down pat…

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  3. grampy says:

    steve, your instructions are unintelligible You gloss over tying down the hackle, your positioning of the post is simply jumbled.

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  4. Dusty says:

    I am a little unclear on the parachute post. Do you wrap the post under the hook or just pull it straight up? Can’t really tell from the instructions or pics.

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  5. Thanks for the comments.

    The post can be tied in the usual way, along the hook shank. But, by tying it in the way shown, a neater abdomen can be achieved, without the bulk.

    When you have the post facing downwards, you grab both ends and swing it upwards – the post should be facing upwards, but travelling under the shank of the hook.

    You could just loop it under and tie it in – but by doing the method shown, hopefully it helps to keep the thorax neat and the post tight.

    Take yourself through the steps and give it a go – practice makes perfect!

    Either way, however you choose to tie in the post, a neat and slender dun pattern can be a winner.

    Good luck,

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  6. john pennock says:


    I tried your way of tying the post and, also, whip finishing at the post. Both improved my duns greatly! You’re right. Delicate is important with duns. thanx

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  7. John,

    Really pleased it worked for you. Hope they catch you a few!


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  8. Zoran Radosavljevic says:

    Why the post is bend down first and then pulled up? Is it crossed from one (bottom) side of the shank to the other side and than pulled up?

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  9. kyle says:

    I am also confused on your post method. By securing the post material and rotating it 90 degrees, you have created a thread wrap. How does meeting underneath and rotating up help secure the post? Wouldn’t that create slack in your initial securing wraps?

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  10. You are certainly correct that it produces a thread wrap. Bringing the wing downwards and then swinging it upwards ensures that the wing is under the hook shank and the fibres are tight together.

    If you find this too tricky, then just wrap the wing under the shank and secure. This also avoids the bulk. However, I prfer the picking up of the thread to ensure the wing position in spot on. Also all the wing fibres are tightly held under the hook shank.

    Hope that helps. Try it and you’ll hopefully see the effect.


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  11. Dunamis says:

    Dave, I think what would give a better rib is if you dub normally by winding clockwise, then reverse the thread wraps anticlockwise to produce the rib effect. Simply winding back up the same way can make the thread disappear into the dubbing.
    Also, do you think a lick of superglue on the thread before creating the rib effect might make it harder for teeth to cut?

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