The Sparkle Dun is an outstandingly simple adult mayfly pattern developed by Craig Mathews of West Yellowstone, Montana. The pattern incorporates only three materials and all of them are cheap and commonly available. The Sparkle Dun was one of the first patterns to incorporate a trailing shuck. The Z-Lon shuck imitates the empty nymphal husk hanging from the back of the emerging dun and is a definite trigger for selective fish. This is a simple but highly effective fly that can be accomplished by even beginning tyers. Gather up your materials, sit down and crank out a batch of PMD Sparkle Duns. Then go on to tie them on Baetis colors and even Red Quills. The pattern will nicely imitate any mayfly just by changing the colors of the components.
Hook: TMC 100 #14-22
Thread: UNI 8/0 Light Cahill
Wing: Bleached Coastal Deer Hair or Early Season Elk
Shuck: Rusty Brown Darlon or Z-Lon
Body: Pale Yellow Superfine Dubbing
Attach the thread at the rear edge of the index point. Wrap a smooth thread base back to the midpoint on the hook and forward again to the seventy-five percent point. Leave the thread hanging at the seventy-five percent point.
Cut, clean and stack a small clump of deer or elk hair and measure it against the hook so it is equal to one shank length. The hair should have short, blunt tips and heavier butts, to facilitate the flairing we are about to do. It can sometimes be hard to find the proper hair to tie Sparkle Duns with so when you find the right stuff, label it accordingly and hang on to it!
Lay the hair in with the tips pointing out over the hook eye. Bind the hair down at the seventy-five percent point with a tight band of thread like you would with an Elk Hair Caddis.
Trim the butt ends of the hair at an angle so they transition smoothly to the hook shank.
Wrap over the butt ends of the wing to cover them and build a smooth, tapered thread base. Be sure the thread base transitions smoothly to the bare shank. Continue wrapping the thread back to the bend of the hook and then back again to the midpoint on the shank.
Tie in a sparse clump of Darlon at the base of the wing and wrap back over it to the bend so it sticks out the back of the hook like a tail. The length isn’t important, as we will cut it to the right size later.
Bring the thread to the front of the wing and build a thread dam against the front edge of the hair to stand it up vertically.
Return the thread to the midpoint on the shank.
Apply a thin, even layer of dubbing to the thread. Start the dubbing at the bend of the hook and work forward to the back edge of the wing forming a smoothly tapered body.
Cross to the front of the wing on the underside of the hook and continue dubbing up to the hook eye. Wrap the dubbing back again to the front of the wing and taper back down toward the hook eye, ending with bare thread at the rear edge of the index point.
Whip finish and clip the thread. Splay the wing with your fingertips so it spreads nearly 180 degrees across the front of the fly. Trim the Darlon shuck so it is equal in length to the hook shank. I try to cut the ends of the shuck in irregular lengths so I don’t have a square cut end hanging out the back.
Finished fly, front view. Notice arc of wing and amount of hair.
Finished fly, side view. Notice length of wing and shuck and the taper of the body.