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What is Blue Dun?

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#1 overmywaders


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Posted 02 April 2017 - 07:41 PM

The colors we find in fly tying literature are baffling to us today. Where, for example, did they come up with the term "blue dun" or "golden dun"? 

Examining the dictionary definition of "dun" gives us a starting point. "of a horse : having a grayish-yellow coat with black mane and tail" (Merriam-Webster Online) 

The use of the term "blue dun" in fly tying predates the common use of the automobile. Needing a color description, it seems that the tiers turned to what would be most commonly understood and used horse colors as reference points. Thus, when documenting a fly pattern, "dun" would be broadly understood as being a "grayish-yellow." If in doubt, one only had to look out the window at horses going by in the street to understand the tier's intent. 

Here then are some examples of duns:




Light Blue Dun




Blue Dun



Medium Blue Dun



A herd of Blue Dun from Light to Dark



A Pale (Champagne) Blue Dun



It is only speculation on my part that our hackle colors are based the horse; what do you think?

#2 wsbailey


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Posted 02 April 2017 - 07:46 PM



#3 scnye


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Posted 02 April 2017 - 07:46 PM

As good an explanation as any







#4 wsbailey


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Posted 02 April 2017 - 07:48 PM


#5 wsbailey


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Posted 02 April 2017 - 08:12 PM

In his book "River Angling for Salmon and Trout" John Younger wrote:
"The fourth fly, in many cases the best, is altogether of a dun colour, body and wings. Although fox and other furs and mohairs, may be used for the body of this fly, with a hackle rolled over it, still I prefer fine woolly cow hair from the flank of a dun coloured cow or outfield kyloe. This, with a little gold twist rolled round the body, to give it an insect appearance, and the hair picked out to fall softly in a half shading over it, is, when well done, on all colours of fly, better than cock hackles. The proper dun colour is not easily described. It seems to partake of brown and white, a shade of red and yellow, with the slightest tinge of silvery grey, and a yellow tail tufted up with a speck of red. The wings are best when of the same colour, or at least as nearly so as possible, but prefer such as have a tendency to whiteness on the top. These may best be had from the tail or rump of a dun turkey, a fowl precious to a Tweed salmon fisher."

#6 wsbailey


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Posted 02 April 2017 - 08:14 PM

Highland cattle hair.


#7 Dale A. Darling

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Posted 02 April 2017 - 09:37 PM

Good stuff Bill.

The what is fun question was bantered about on the salmon fly page a few years ago. It was decided the old guys tying salmon flies meant a blend of rusty brown and grey, I think.

For trout, iblue dun seems to be more a steely blue-grey like the herd of horses photo. I've heard people say it's the color of a mayfly Dun wings. They vary a lot.

Andalusian is a horse color? From Spain. Looks like what I consider dun.

Regarding golden dun, I've seen light badgers with the golden yellow: palomino? color on the top of the feather with lovely dun on the back. Always loved the Quill Gordon's the festhers tied. Lost all I had of them in the flood.

Good post. I suppose with fly styles being as subjective as we see their colors are at the least as equal. Also based on stuff we have to use.
Dale "Fly fishing: a pleasantly addictive affliction"

My website here: http://www.riverforkpress.com
Voted 2017 sexiest fly tier of the year

#8 ted patlen

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Posted 03 April 2017 - 02:33 PM

Here's a few definitions that I've compiled over the years.



"The dun color partakes of brown and white.."   Jim Younger


a neutral, slightly brownish gray    dictionary


"when applied to hackles denotes a natural feather ranging in colour from Chocolate brown to the lightest honey and from dark slate to the lightest blue-grey but all with the common factor in that they contain, a smokey blue-grey center which widens and strengthens the lightest shades.  This grey is very obvious at the butt and on the back of the hackles.    ES Malone


"Blue, rusty and honey duns are only found on blue andalusians or blue game cocks and very often the same bird will have all varieties of duns.  These are rather dull feathers for salmon-fly work, and are chiefly used for grubs especially the honey dun."   Pryce-Tannant


a strong steel colored grey      dictionary


variable color denoting a grey with blueish tinge or cast.    dictionary


the general coloration of a rabbit or donkey     dictionary


take your pick !!!!

#9 Mr.BobH



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Posted 22 August 2019 - 09:36 PM

Anyone familiar with Iron Blue Dun?   Seems I remember that from the '60's when I first learned to tie, but don't see it mentioned lately.


Thanks, Bob H