Fly Tying- a CDC Yellow May Dun

by Davie McPhail

Big-bird-NEW

the Yellow May or, Heptagenia sulphurea is the Big Bird of the aquatic insect world. not so much i guess in the big sense, but it has weird globular eyes, its yellow all over, can be seen from kilometres away, is undoubtedly the easiest ephemeroptera species to recognise and everyone loves it, specially hungry trouts !
here’s how to make a really nice one so you too can be in the Cool-Yellow crowd , enjoy !

March and its Surrealist standard

as tradition would have it, i sat down to tie some much-needed deep-down nymphs, carefully selected all the necessary goodies, bead-heads and other assorted non-floaty materials and went off to make some coffee before starting the assembly process.
'standard' march brown m.fauvet-TLC 5-3-16_edit_edit

once back, all that water-absorbing crap got pushed out of the way, the caffeine blasting long-ago recollections of André Breton’s writings in a random cortex…

“The aim was to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality”

his definition of the Surrealist Revolution movement-
Dictionary: Surrealism,
n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or in the craft of fly tying, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.
Encyclopedia: Surrealism.
Philosophy. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to ruin once and for all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principal problems of life.

all that maybe meaning that this guy’s strung-out subconscious decided that since my dry fly boxes are overabundantly filled in the real world, the dreamy side of things, the one that can’t count flies nor boxes nor reason with reason and thinks soft watches are cool just went ahead, took over, blanked the brain better than any mind-numbing substance could ever do and a dozen or so of my standard March Brown dries size 16 where there waiting for me when my fingers stopped twitching and my eyes opened. a fair amount of drool gently puddling excess materials further proved the “solving all the principal problems of life” part above because wet excess materials don’t fly all about the house and are easily collected and binned.

i’m quite certain that Breton’s arrogance would never have admitted fly tying to be a worthy expression of his beloved revolution/movement but that’s his loss. among other displays of numptiness he was more than happy to vehemently proclaim that music was shit which, even if that’s correct to a certain extent with regards to rap, pop and country music, those musical forms didn’t even exist back then and it’s a stupid thing to say even if it probably felt good to say at the time.

for those interested in the more materialistic aspect of this pattern,
made with:
subconscious love and several juicy materials from my buddy Lucian Vasies at troutline.ro
hook- Maruto D82 BL
thread- Veevus 12/0 brown
tail- Coq de Leon Pardo Rihnon
abdomen- Mad Rabbit (Romanian hare mask)
thorax/wings- Ultra Dense CDC fibres in a dubbing loop, wound with the fibres teased upwards at each turn. be sure to give the bottom a nice Brazilian to keep the imitation flat on the surface and treat the whole thing with Loon Lochsa, the stuff’s awesome.

its a really good-all-purpose mayfly imitation that’s done me good for many years. its my standard.

Winged Nymphs for Dynamic Nymphing

winged-nymph-Lucian-Vasies

some high-level fly design from Lucian Vasies any and every nymph fisher might (read should) take into consideration: it’s that good.

Winged Nymphs for Dynamic Nymphing could be considered a new frontier in fishing nymphs and a new way to tie flies. Some fly tiers consider them ugly. In terms of a classic construction and after the traditional rules to tie a nymph, these flies are quite ugly. These flies don’t follow the rules for conical bodies or for the tail made from feather fibers. What about the typical streamer wings? Something like these was never seen on nymphs. But appearance is not important to these nymphs. Their goal is not to please the fisherman, but to catch fish.”

winged-nymph-tail-Lucian-Vasies
the two key elements setting this beast apart from the rest, both of CDC fibres for the reasons explained in Lucian’s complete text and step-by-step you can access by clicking either pic.
winged-nymph-wing-Lucian-Vasies


Lucian’s a buddy and i know he won’t take this sideways but the fold-over wing isn’t exactly new but that’s of no importance. what is however is this concept is as hot as it gets when it comes to wet fly and nymph design.
here’s my ever so succesful ‘bladge i started tinkering with four years ago. it’s a black midge just subsurface wet, size 20 where the soft,Bladge 25-1-13 fold-over wing was inspired by Peter Dobbs’ Shwartza (bottom pic) created in the early ’90s for the UK reservoir competition scene which in turn might have been inspired by the soft wing tied semi-upright  Clyde style flies from a hundred and more years ago. Clyde wings are typically tied with wings slips from game birds. they’re nowhere as stiff as genetic cock hackles but they retain their wing shape a lot more than the marabou used in the Shwartza or fuzzy fibres found at the base of starling feathers i use for the ‘bladge.

what they do have in common with Lucian’s ingenious idea of using CDC fibres is all these super-soft materials collapse back when wet. since they’re tied in wing-style every fibre is free to move around, both undulating with the current and creating a very life-like ‘outer shell’ of the imitation’s body, something any other tying method has a very hard time replicating. play around with the concept, i promise you won’t regret.


for more on the Shwartza click the pic

Fly Tying- Slaney’s ShuttleCock Caddis

shuttlecock caddis Slaney:Weilenmanncreated by Paul Slaney, tied by Hans Weilenmann

“The Shuttlecock Caddis is an effective variation on the standard Shuttlecock design. This Caddis Emerger is fished either in tandem with a sub-surface pattern, such as the Backstop Caddis, or by itself during a caddis hatch – generally to devastating effect.”

i see this pattern as a caddissified version or at least in the same fly design lines of Bob Wyatt’s more than rightly infamous D.H.E. ‘Deer Hair Emerger’. as such, Paul’s design fits perfectly into the family of general, all-purpose, super-effective anywhere, anytime patterns any river fisher should have.
the cdc butts represent emerging wing buds to give the pattern a ‘just-enough’ caddis profile. when fishing it alone, left as such the fly will start its drifting life somewhat horizontally, should you want the fly to ride more vertically simply wet the wing buds with saliva to make it sit in the film. should you feel like the caddis hatch has switched off and there’s mayflies happening you can just snip off the wing buds with your nippers and resume catching fish.
sound good ? no, that sounds great to me ! here’s how to make it. enjoy !

the CDC Bubble Sedge

cdc bubble sedge d. mcphail
here’s a fine example of a must-have trout fly. just like Frank Sawyer’s Pheasant Tail Nymph, in the sense that the basic design is just about the only style of nymph one would ever need, the CDC Bubble Sedge has everything an adult caddis imitation should have: shape, colour, proportions, a sense of transparency, buoyant in just the right way and lively, life-resembling materials all with the added bonus of being simple to tie.
just like the PTN, tie these in different sizes and eventually in different colour tones with maybe a touch of green or orange at the butt to imitate the female’s egg sack to match the local bugs and you can’t go wrong. enjoy !

Markus Hoffman’s E -merge- R

e-merg-r markus hoffman

yet another fantastic atmospheric thumbs-up man-cave tutorial of a great emerging mayfly nymph pattern. we’ll see at the end of the video how it sits super-inticingly-pretty just below the surface. 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, mostly striations but they’re mostly 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 the whole wing’s translucency: a realistic visual effect to the whole ensemble instead of an unnatural stark silhouette.

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 small effort and the fish will thank you for it.

one
2two
3

three !

4

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

Once and Away

once_and_awayFly: Hans van Klinken, Photograph: Hans Weilenmann

” After a few attempts I decided on a tying a fly that I thought might be successful. It was with considerable interest that I tried it out. My confidence in it was established within the first few casts. In the same time as it had taken me to catch fish on the previous day I caught many more. I called the fly the “Once and Away”, since I had a great deal of difficulty in getting the pattern to float again after it had been dragged down by a fish. When I came home. I change the dressing to a better-looking and more durable pattern. To find a reasonable solution was not at all easy and drove me almost crazy. Finely after three months it was the thoughts behind the Rugged Caddis and Culard, which give me the answer. It is still funny to say and confess that just a simple cutting operation on the fly design cost me months to find out. Again I developed a pattern were CDC has been used against all rules. “

just goes to show that some rules are better bent…
here we have the origin of the ShuttleCock style of emergers from it’s creator, Hans Van Klinken of ‘KlinkHammer’ fame (and many more). featured along with the complete step-by-step of the original pattern is the story behind this most excellent fly and its design. great inspiring stuff indeed ! (and a reminder that duck roadkill should never be ignored)

click the pic for the full tutorial on Hans Weilenmann’s excellent site Flytier’s Page, enjoy !

Fly Tying Step-by-Step Tutorial: Marc Petitjean’s CDC Nymph

a real gem for us today from Barry Ord Clarke’s site The Feather Bender. tied by Marc, photographed by Barry, that’s a team that’s hard to beat.

” When Marc began tying nymphs with CdC ( nearly 20 years ago) many prominent anglers thought it was a joke! and that CdC was not a suitable material for nymphs, oh how time has proved them wrong. “

this quote brings a little smirk because however much these feathers may be interesting i’m a firm believer that they work best underwater rather than above. if you’re not convinced try taking some feathers or better yet a cdc dry fly and get it wet by gently rubbing it between your fingers under water and watch it in say, a glass of water. if you didn’t squeeze it too tight there will be air bubbles trapped in the fibers and the rest will pulse in a very attractive manner, imitating legs, wings, antennae or the insect’s veiling shuck. all strong suggestions of life without having to resort to very ‘technical’ depictions/recreations of these elements by using a myriad of materials. brilliant !

this particular generalist pattern makes a great caddis imitation but a few tweaks here and there such as adding tails or reducing the body feathers to two or even just one for a slimmer profile turns it into an equally effective mayfly imitation.
as one might expect, the fly is tied using the range of Petitjean tools but don’t let that put you off if you don’t have them. spring clips can substitute the Magic Tool and a fly/electrician’s clip can be used to hold and twist the body hackles.

it starts off like so,MP CDC Nymph 1

and ends like this.
MP CDC Nymph 2

to discover everything in between click either image for the complete step-by-step.
enjoy !

related articles

a bourbon-flavored Iron Blue Dun

here’s a super-sweet, superbly tied Blue Dun imitation by 0031flyfishing

very much inspired by Marc Petitjean’s methods of working with cdc, following the basic guideline of this great tutorial and varying colors, sizes, omitting the red tag or not will lead to an extremely good generic imitation of just about any of the bazillions varied creatures of the Ephemeroptera (mayfly) family. *

picture_2994_small
crank up the volume and enjoy !

* (and more or less any other bug that has wings, a body and a tail)
for more info on the natural insect click the pic to access troutnut.com‘s page.

Little Boxes

beyond actual assembly methods, preserving the intended proportions of a fly is one of the finer skills a tier can acquire.
there are numerous ‘hands on’ methods such as using the bodkin needle or other tool or even a ruler or drawing compass to compare lengths, widths and heights but in my mind the best tool is the mind’s eye.
“to see things with the mind”, to envision proportions by superimposing little boxes, triangles circles or ovals as in the image below frees us from the boundaries of gadgets and superfluous tools leading to a more intuitive approach to tying and fly design.

CDC loop emerger dave wiltshire
if there was only one adage to adopt in our craft the better one would probably be:
Less is More…
give it a try sometime. as in all things regarding adapting the way we see and think about the things around us, it may take a little patience and persistence but it’s a fun and rewarding challenge.


these thoughts where inspired by Dave Wiltshire’s fantastic CDC Loop Emerger pictured above.

“Tied in a range of styles and with different materials, this fly has a hugely buggy appearance and suggests that struggling and vulnerable stage as a fly makes the change from nymph to dun.I like to tie the tips long and allow them to project over the eye, giving an even busier profile. In conjunction with the wing, this makes a fantastic footprint.”

to access the step by step for this pattern and its variations click the pic and while you’re there be sure to check out a whole slew of other fluffy goodies at Dave’s River Fly Box.  enjoy !

 

a floating spider

greatly inspired by Lucian Vasies’ yummy ‘the Italian Job’, here’s a first (for me) combination of a somewhat traditional North Country style Spider  generic emerger pattern with a cdc floating wing puff to keep the main part of the fly stuck in the surface film. the puff also serves to keep an eye on the fly to detect the very gentle takes that often happen when fishing these types of flies in very calm waters or lakes. the scrufy-fluffy body combined with the hen hackle give a strong impression of life and in this case, of an insect struggling to break through the surface film.

floating spider

made with:
love
hook- Partridge vintage Captain Hamilton barbless #18
thread- Veevus 14/0 brown
abdomen- a cdc mix of fiery red and brown in a dubbing loop
hackle- Whiting Brahma hen, natural brown wound behind and in front of the cdc wing
wing puff- cdc natural

you’ll find most materials used and a lot more at Lucian’s online shop TroutLine