Everything you’ve always wanted to know about CDC feathers. (but where afraid to ask the guy at the fly shop)

by Hans Weilenmann via Martin Joergensen at GFF ‘Global Fly Fisher’

in what’s the most comprehensive description of what makes these feathers so unique, Hans’ Tying with CDC article is a must read for any fly tier.

calc_cdc-type1-drawing-384

“The description “Cul de Canard” was reputedly coined in the late 1950s by French tier Henry Bresson for one of his patterns. The description has contributed to some confusion, especially when it was literally translated into English as “duck’s butt” or “duck’s arse” feathers.
CDC’s history in fly tying and fly fishing begins in central Western Europe in the 1920s and the dry flies used by fishermen living in the Swiss Jura Mountains near the French border. These patterns, generally referred to as Moustique (Mosquito) patterns, remained unchanged until well into the late 1970s.”

(just to set things straight, the feather’s official name is Croupion de Canard or ‘duck’s rump’. Bresson’s somewhat clever-quirky sense of humour later turned the name of his famous fly into Cul de Canard or, ‘duck’s ass’: cul being a rather vulgar term (at least in those times) for those lovely globes we cherish so much)

calc_feather-2-3-584

historical and frenchytude niceties aside, the Understanding CDC chapter is where we get to the nitty gritty with such goodies as the four feather types, why applying floatant to them renders them useless, harvesting, tips and tricks and how to select the right feather for its intended use.
fly shops all-too-easily sell us any old sort of cdc feather even if they’re all from the preen gland they vary greatly in stem size (flexibility and strength), fibre position and length.  safe to say this explains why so many anglers sometimes have difficulties getting the results that seemed so simple at first.

cdc types H.Weilenmann-GFF

“Understanding CDC
While the natural oils on the feather assist in repelling water, the hydrophobic properties and the structure of the CDC feather are fundamental to its floatability.
Feathers are completely made up of the protein keratin. They are built to be as light as possible in order to make the bird fly easily, yet are extremely strong and waterproof at the same time. Keratin in many ways resembles manmade plastic. One aspect is that it does not soak up moisture, or indeed oil. The oil can only coat the feather parts, not become an internal part of it.”

click either image to access the complete article on GFF. included at the bottom of the page is a step-by-step and video tutorial of Hans’ notorious CDC and Elk. enjoy !

the Backstop Caddis

backstop_caddisdesigned by Paul Slaney, tied by Hans Weilenmann

primarily designed as an ‘in the surface’ or drowned/washed-away just below the surface caddis imitation -something in my opinion that’s unfortunately missing from pretty much most angler’s boxes-  this pattern has all the right trigger points and profile to do the job and do it well. the Tiemco 2499SP is one of my all time favourite barbless hooks. an extremely well designed one that hooks up better than most and keeps the fish on until the fish is inside the net. for this pattern, it’s slightly heavier weight (than an average dry fly hook) will help it stay in the right zone. easy and simple to tie, here’s a go-to pattern well worth having and something i wouldn’t hesitate for a second to use even when there’s no caddis around. enjoy !

Wooly Bugger Tutorial

we’ve seen countless Wooly Bugger video tutorials and their variants but this one by Joshua Williams is a little different.
be sure to share and leave your encouragement on Joshua’s youtube page.

something Special

” In certain circles, it is rumored that anciently there was a fly pattern that possessed such magical fish-catching mojo that no fish could resist its siren-esque call. A fly with material so secretive that it was said there existed only one source of it hidden high in the Andes of Patagonia on the testicles of a golden Guanaco. A fly pattern so powerful that any angler who should possess it was assured of 100 fish days and to whom women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.”

yong special - flyfishfood

those kind of statements sure get my attention !.. because i know that this teeny-tiny fly will get a lot of fish’s attention as well.
simples as simples to tie as it gets, even when not fishing them on their own this is the kind of fly i most usually always have trailing behind a dry, wet or ‘standard’ nymph. they’re that effective. nope, it may not look like much or even special at all to us anglers but we’re not the ones racing to chomp them down either.
although the exact thread might not be the easiest to find for those of us outside of the US, the basic design is a proven one. in fact, when typically endowed with a few hackle fibres to represent a tail, this design is really the go-to for nymphing in France and neighbouring countries and highly favoured among competitors. now, i’ve mentioned many times how much i despise fishing competitions but that last point tells us that these flies can be counted on to be consistent producers: something us ‘amateurs’ can happily take to the water and enjoy without the stress of having to score points !

click the image above to access Curtis Fry‘s great tying tutorial and see the finer points of this little thing’s construction.

Tying up the Nagli

a Spey-style variant of the classic Islandic Nagli Atlantic salmon fly by Davie McPhail.

outside of yet another fantabulous tying tutorial with Davie’s impeccable techniques and explanations, those of us that don’t get the opportunity to chase Atlantic salmon very often might be inspired by this pattern’s basic design to adapt it to river trout use, particularly rainbows. tied as is, i can’t help but think this one would be a doozy on steelhead as well. enjoy !

Micro Pheasant Tail Nymph

by Tim Flagler – TightLines Productions
the PT nymph needs no special mention. always have an assortment when fishing for insect-eating fishes or miss out on a lot of hooking-up opportunities so, apart from the must-have,
today’s find goes from spot-on tying tips, has a short intermezzo of Tim playing with a soft and sticky looking fish mouth to show us that barbed hooks suck and then we’re back to a whole host of other not-so-common tying techniques in this just-out-today-tutorial.    enjoy !

Increasing the Visibility of Dry Flies

most tiers don’t know this super-easy and super-efective tip so here goes.
as Lucian Vasies points out:
“A simple and very efficient method to increase the visibility for small CDC dry flies tied on #16-22 : adding a small bunch of white CDC barbs in front of the wing.
In certain cases I use yellow or pink instead of white, especially at sunset when the light and the shadows become metallic.”

this great tip has a double purpose: hatching insect wings may have colour tones but they mostly remain transparent so, what i also like about this method is when seen from below (always pretend you’re a fish !), the white ‘veil’ behind the main wing brings out it’s translucency: a realistic visual effect to the whole ensemble instead of an unnatural stark silhouette.
if it helps, think about the white veil as the white canvas that a painter will then apply other colours and varying shades of grey to.
now, as suggested above, if we want to add different coloured veils to increase visibility in say, low-light conditions or when fishing a heavily-bubbled flow we can judiciously plan the wing colours to compliment each other.
it’s well worth the effort and the fish will thank you for it.

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three !

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click either image for the full step by step tutorial, enjoy !

‘whoever said a mayfly tail couldn’t be sexy was wrong.

Markus Hoffman hollow tailExtended Mayfly Quill Body by Markus Hoffman

i’ve seen a number of pre-made rubber hollow bodies aiming towards the same effect, but they where so ugly that using them felt more like an insult to fly tying but mostly to the fish.

and then comes Markus’ ever-creative mind that gives birth to this ingenious, simple, quick, realistic, transparent, lively looking, for-sure floating (because of all the trapped air when tied in) and just too friggin’ yummy mayfly abdomen for a fish to pass up.
by using the same pin and uv resin technique but using different sized and shaped pins and varying tail materials or not even placing a tail at all, under-body colours and rib materials we’ll end up with a whole range of delicious extended bodies to suit any hatching bug.
something tells me this  technique will be remembered and passed on for a while. simply brilliant, good on ya Markus. thanks !

a Clyde Style Fly Magpie & Silver

by Davie McPhail

clyde style - 2 centuries of soft-hackled flies

well, Davie’s magpie wing hardly fits in with the description above but it hardly matters because many other references to this style of fly have the same big-winged generosity. thing is,  it’s hard to find any universally accepted definition to the Clyde style fly as most authors tend to have their own vision of it but i believe we can basically break down its most distinctive feature of it being: a spider with a wing sitting pretty on top.

if you’ve been visiting here for a while you’ll most certainly be pretty familiar with the North Country Spider style. this North Country happens to be in the north of England and the Clyde style originated on river Clyde, close to southern Scotland. what connects the two is a line on a map and seeing that fish don’t care about boundaries and it’s the same part of the world, and that even way back then people travelled and drank beer and whisky, it’s all too easy for me at least, to see how fly style mixes occur and people being what they are and proud of their place and country of origin and somehow what happens after all this beer and whisky is a a whole new fly is given birth.
my point here isn’t to propose that someone copied another and even less to take sides (although i tend to like Scots, specially the ladies. must be their accents… ) but, i felt like introducing Davie’s great tying tutorial (that doesn’t really need one after all) in a somewhat grumpily manner as an attempt to get over my recent three-days out and three days blanking.., that for some reason keeps on nagging me to the point that i’m not even really enjoying all this xmas chocolate that’s laying about the house.
since i’m sure that last part has amused you at least a bit, i feel better.

i hope you’ll enjoy the video, it’s a really nice fly.

Clyde style intro excerpt from Nemes’softhackledfliesselling at around 200$ and therefore out of most people’s financial reach,
we can still get a pretty good preview of it by clicking the image of the book.

Deer Hair Wings and Muddler Head the Easy way.

once in a while a really innovative tying technique pops up and this little doozy from Staffan Lindstrom fits the bill perfectly.
definitely one for those reluctant or that can’t be bothered to use deer hair, the ingenious trick of tying the hair wing on while still on the skin and using the butts to form the head in one simple-easy move should change a few tier’s approach.
since it’s in Norwegian, you might want to turn the sound down and put on some Davis or something, the visuals are more than easy to understand.
i’m struggling to understand the need for five strands of  thread to tie in the hair where a good and strong 6/0 or other single thread should be more than enough but then again, maybe i’m being punished for encouraging you to not listen to five minutes of Norwegian:mrgreen:
the cool deer hair party part starts at 1:18, enjoy !

here’s some ear-saving Davis.

Sexy-Floss BloodWorm

unsurprisingly, Davie’s new tie is the prettiest i’ve seen in the tailed-for-movement chironomid larvae imitation family but there’s more to it than just pretty. bloodworms, just like most of the different stages of the chironomid are translucent, chironomid_larvae_eric_lindsomething a lot of  other patterns sorely miss. they also wiggle/squirm back and forth a lot even when not going from one place to another and this is where adding a slinky/undulating marabou tail helps: fishing the fly static and letting the smallest currents in the lake or wind do the work instead of constantly retrieving the line and fly.

Chironomid_lifecycle

bugs of the same species can differ greatly from region to region and we’ll also notice that the chiro larvae goes through different stages, and more importantly for us, different sizes. bloodworms are typically red hence the name but as seen here  we’ll notice that various shades of olive, tans and grey are readily found so once again, different sizes and colours of this same pattern should cover you just about anywhere.

not a fancy fly for sure but then it says ‘eat me’ all over and it’s always a treat to watch Davie work his magic. enjoy !

click either bug image for its respective source

a clip-on fly body.

absofrigginlutely brilliant !
clip-on fly TLC 14-11-13

the actual fly is tied on the B-C stem and then it seems to be clipped on to the hook once the silk tippet is tied in.
of a completely different concept but closely resembling the hook-changing possibilities we have with tube flies this is bloody ingenious and something the creative tier might want to experiment with.  since we’re mostly using modern hooks with eyes, my thoughts are we needn’t bother with making clips as the stem can be simply tied in fore and aft and easily trimmed off later if needed. this also brings up ideas of being able to quickly change foam bodies or other softy materials that easily get munched to bits after a few fish but i’m sure we can think of a lot of other uses.
a little research hasn’t shown whether Upton’s patent was a lucrative one or not but this deserves some special attention. be sure to pass on his name if you give this style a go.

(more HERE on the history of hook eyes and the beginnings of the tying vise) 

’round and round with Davie

in a wonderful example that a fly tier can have ADHD (or be drunk and confused) and still manage to make a wonderful fly, Davie’s two-versioned tutorial of the same generalised imitation where wings and thorax get interchanged shows us some fine, yet-so-easy fly tuning that simple rearrangements can produce. more than just a groovy example of mixing and matching, this fly thing  seems to be just the ticket as a really good searching pattern or when there’s several types of bugs on the water. mayflies, caddis, hawthorn, crickets and you name it. it looks buggy as bug and’ll leave a lot for the fish to see below, in the surface film and above the water. that’s a lot of good points for a fly to have.  enjoy !

American Trout-Stream Insects

by Louis Rhead 1914 via OpenLibrary
Am. trout-stream insects TLC 8-11-13
without a doubt we can be pretty sure that hatch timetables and even bug species in the last ninety-nine years have come to be inexistent in some areas while others have taken their place, we’re still left with an enormous wealth of information regarding river-side insect life and how to put this to good use.
geared towards U.S. rivers, anglers from around the world will find similarities and usefulness for their own waters. besides, i’m not sure it really matters, it’s a great read regardless and maybe a reminder that bugs is bugs and fishes is fishes and fly fishing hasn’t changed all that much so there’s a lot to learn from the past.
americantroutstr00rhearich_0053the many hand-drawn plates created by the author back up all the groovy buggy-fishy info with beauty, further sharing the notion that it’s not just a matter of fish food and catching fish but of creatures to be admired on their own and thank you Mr Rhead for that.
americantroutstr00rhearich_0001
click either image for 177 pages of old school coolness online or HERE to download PDF, Kindle and others to enjoy this offline.