CDC an MP tying material.
by Leon Links
Just imagine the
following: you are invited to fish for two weeks on a river
after your own choice, no matter where on this planet. You may
take along whatever you need, rods, reels, lines, everything,
except for one thing..: flies! However, instead of flies you can
bring a vise, hooks, tying silk and one, only one tying
material… but plenty of it as you will have to tie all your flies
with it: nymphs, emergers, dry flies and streamers.
- Well, what material are
you going to take along…?!
Difficult question? It
wouldn't cause any problem to me at all. The one and only
material - after my firm opinion - appropriate for taking up
this challenge would be CDC. Cul de canard feathers are so
versatile that you could easily make all parts of your flies
with them: tails, bodies, hackles, wings, wing cases, legs etc.
And also in a very
convincing way. You can work up CDC in various ways like
hackling the plumes, tying in complete feathers, dubbing the
feather fibres etc. I'm not the only one who finds that CDC is
pre-eminently a multi purpose tying material. Many other
flytyers are of the same opinion. In recent years I have
intensively interchanged ideas and experiences with some twenty
prominent flytyers from America, Japan, Italy, France and my own
country who are widely known due to their excellent CDC
patterns. I contacted them some years ago because I had started
writing a book on CDC, and experienced that help from experts in
this field was badly needed. In September 2002, at last, this
book on the history of CDC, the masters, their patterns, tips
and tying instructions etc etc was published by Merlin Unwin
Books in England.
fishing the Soca for marmorata trout, June 2001
The most important of
these tyers - without any doubt - is Marc Petitjean from
Fribourg, Switzerland (www. Petitjean. Com) whom I visited
several times for interviews. You won't believe what he knows
about CDC, the history, patterns etc. He is also the most
skilful and innovative tyer of CDC flies I know. Marc has done
incredibly much for the development of CDC tying techniques and
the ever increasing popularity of CDC. In the late 1980s he
presented a wonderful series of flies tied with CDC only which
made his name as a professional flytyer. In the years thereafter
he introduced his new patterns annually, and now, anno 2002, he
has a comprehensive collection from which flies can be chosen
for each fishing situation. Typical features of all his flies -
both dry flies and sub surface flies - are the subtle designs
and the fact that all of them are tied of 100 % CDC.
The best thing that
happened to me in almost twenty years of flytying is discovering
CDC as a tying material. I learned to appreciate it over the
years designing patterns and fishing them in all kind of fishing
situations. CDC is a wonderful material suitable for tying
small, subtle flies that can seduce suspicious fish but also for
large flies that still seem to be delicate and transparent.
Besides that I find it a fascinating idea that CDC can be used
in so many different ways and that almost all parts of the
natural fly can be adequately imitated with it.
In some of my patterns
devised in the past few years I always use CDC. On the one hand
because I have been inspired by the work of others, especially
Marc's; on the other hand because CDC flies -my own and those of
other tyers too - improved my catch rates considerably, in spite
of difficult fishing every now and then. All this encouraged me
to go on experimenting.
I met with difficult
fishing in Belgium and France many times, and in the past few
years in Slovenia sometimes too. Here I fished in the area
around the village of Most na Soci, ideal operating base for a
trip to the fascinating Soca, princess of the mountains, and her
fantastic tributary Idrijca.
Early morning over
the Soca at Žaga, June 2002
The Baca, Kneza,
Tolminka and Trebuscica, other challenging rivers and streams in
the region too didn't make things easier for me. All waters here
have in common that they are extremely clear. Sometimes it is
possible to spot bottom feeding fish in pools of over four
meters deep. Difficult fishing demands the utmost of the
flyfisher, not only regarding casting and fishing techniques but
certainly also regarding his (or her) knowledge of insects and
imitating them behind the vise. In order to make a chance at all
and have successful fishing it is necessary to fish with good
imitations of present naturals like mayflies, stoneflies, ants
and sedges that fish feed on. Good imitations have the right
size and silhouette, they look delicate and provide action. CDC
will help you to realize these triggers.
Marjan Fratnik and
the F Fly
Most of us meet with new
rivers and still waters to fish on from time to time. The best
possible way to get familiar with these new waters is when you
are guided by local fishermen,preferably those who are
experienced flyfishers and know the area like the back of their
hand. I was so happy to have the opportunity to fish the rivers
around Most na Soci with my friend Marjan Fratnik who was born
in the village in 1919 and caught his first trout on the fly at
the junction of the Baca and Idrijca in 1935!
Marjan Fratnik is a
wellknown name in flyfishing due to his articles, contacts and
last but not least his revolutionary F Fly. In the early 1980s
Marjan became the father of all modern CDC tying by working with
CDC feathers in a completely different way than everyone before
him. In stead of hackling the plume he just tied it in backwards
over the hook thus creating an astonishing simple but in the
same time very effective fly. Marjan devised his F Fly for
fishing his beloved waters around Most na Soci and tested it
here with great success.
The F Fly and variations
are known as exceptionally effective, not only in Slovenia but
world wide. Why? For a few reasons I think. At first because it
floats in the film, at second because it imitates a whole range
of insects like sedges, stoneflies and all kind of emerging
mayflies. And there is another reason: it is made with CDC. So
it is soft and transparent, and therefore very insect like.
My experiences with the
F Fly in Slovenia are positive. But other ' in the surface'
patterns like Van Klinken's Klinkhåmer Special, his Once & Away,
our mutual parachute Rhodani imitation and my own L Compara and
Caddis patterns did very well for me too. This inspired me to
tie many more experimental in the film floating flies. And
sometimes a useful fly is the outcome.
Hans de Groot Nymph
A relatively new pattern
of mine that caught a lot of fish on slower parts of the Idrijca
and Baca in the last few years is the Hans de Groot Nymph. It is
an in the surface floating nymph named after Holland's
flyfishing personality and greatest fly dresser ever, the late
Hans de Groot. I also call this pattern HdG Nymph or simply De
Groot Nymph. I tie this nymph with flexibody a very useful
synthetic material in various colours and with CDC. I fish it in
the film or just below the surface most of the time. Sometimes I
fish it deeper with the help of split shots. This fly's success
is probably due to its good silhouette and lifelike CDC action.
Flexibody was re-introduced on the market by master tyer Oliver
Edwards in a number of new attractive colours. Flexibody is fit
for making smooth abdomen of certain may fly species and the
backs of Gammarus species. Hans van Klinken uses it for his
Caseless Caddis one of my favourites.
Tying the Hans de Groot
Hook: Tiemco 200 # 8 - 16
Tail: CDC fibres
Thorax: Hare's ear and CDC
Thorax back: Peacock strip
1. Tie in a bunch of CDC fibres
for the tail.
2. Prepare a strip of flexibody
as shown below.
3. Tie in the strip at the base
of the tail.
4. Wind the abdomen with the
5. Tie in a strip of peacock
and the CDC feather, concave side facing the peacock.
6. Dub the thorax with hare's
7. Over wind the thorax with a
few wraps of CDC and tie the feather off with enough thread
8. Pull the strip of peacock
forward over the thorax and tie off.
9. Wind a neat head, whip
finish and clip the CDC hackle fibres to desired length.
Combining CDC with
I am a true addict of
CDC but I also appreciate other materials -both natural and
synthetic- for combining them with CDC. I think my Hans de Groot
Nymph is an example of a very nice combination. Another
prominent tyer who has been very important for the development
of CDC tying techniques is Gerhard Laible from Germany. He never
was an advocate of 'CDC only' patterns. From his first articles
on tying CDC flies in German flyfishing magazine Der
Fliegenfischer he always combined CDC with other materials in
order to use their specific features. Examples of two of these
composite patterns are his GL Adult Stonefly with synthetic
wings, and his GL Fluttering Stonefly with deer hair wings.
Shrimp is tied with CDC dubbing, flexibody and monofilament
CDC is a fantastic
material that has caught attention of many flyfishers in the
last decade. Naturally! It allows you to tie very effective
flies. Still, many flyfishers only use a limited number of CDC
patterns or don't use them at all. In my recently published book
'Tying flies with CDC' I have tried to gather a lot of
interesting information on the most important aspects of the
subject. Maybe it is a good idea to take a look at it sometimes.
Thanks for reading my article.
GL Adult Stonefly
Text and photos by Leon Links