Last week we looked at the basics of CDC. This week I want to discuss the concept of adaptability. One is always better off getting the best quality materials for the job at hand. CDC is no exception, but very often one is limited in terms of the quality available. The solution is to improvise. You can still use lesser quality CDC and make it work out. CDC’s magic lies in the fibre structure. It's all got to do with design. If there are not enough fibres and barbules per feather one needs to stack feathers on top of each other to compensate for this. CDC patterns need to have that fluffy look to them. The structure is not only important in terms of how the patterns work on the water but also in terms of how they present. That’s where CDC dries have a major advantage over more conventional styled dry flies; they simply present more gently. Tom nailed it on the head when he said that they present as soft as an angels kiss. Fishing laminar water that’s a major advantage.
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I am a huge fan of shuttlecock style flies. I have major faith in them and have as a result managed to tempt some really fussy fish over the years using them. What I like is their simplicity. Most cool things in life are simple and shuttlecocks are no exception.
The main issue with tying shuttlecocks, however, is getting the right feathers for the job. You need smaller feathers, with long fibres and super thin feather stems. These are probably the most difficult CDC feathers to find. Most of the stuff available commercially has thick stems, the stuff one gets from the French grand canards. You’ll get very few feathers of the thinner stem variety . Sometimes you get them, but then the fibre length, quantity and barb count is lacking.
The early Swiss CDC used by guys like Joset were ideal. They used the feathers like hackles as well because the thinner stems accommodate this. Nowadays we’re very often not so lucky.
The solution? Improvise!
This week's fly is my answer to a working alternative in terms of shuttlecocks. It is simple to tie and uses a technique which I like to call the ‘sandwiched wing’, a very useful technique that can be applied to mayfly duns as well. The nice thing about the technique is that you don’t need those feathers with the super thin stems. However, the same result is achieved.
The pattern I’ll be using to demonstrate the technique is a simple squirrel and CDC emerger.
I dub a thing abdomen using a bit of squirrel fur. I love this stuff; it's got ample character and fish appeal.
Next I take three CDC feathers in Petejean's magic tool. I cut the fibres close to the feather stems to ensure I have ample fibre length to work with
Then I take petejeans CDC stacker and gather up the fibres in the magic tool, this little tool is awesome, truth be told, I’m not generally one for fancy gadgets, but this little tool has made tying with CDC a little easier.
Now, using a pinched wrap tie the CDC fibres in on top of the hook shank.
Cut off the excess CDC fibres and tie in a white CDC puff behind the fibres you’ve previously tied in. The reason I do this is to offer contrast when sighting the pattern in the drift, that little white tuft will make the pattern far more visible. Contrast in posts is a majorly cool thing. Posts with contrast are far more versatile in terms of you seeing them in a wide range of light conditions.
Put your thumb nail under the base of the CDC fibres and press hard wiggling the from side to side. This will help splay the fibres slightly, not unlike the fibres in a Compara Dun.
Now dub both behind and in front of the wing, ending up in front. The dubbing in front of the wing will help the CDC sit upright and help with the pattern's position in the surface film. Whip finish.
Give this little Gizmo a haircut and Bobs your uncle.
A nice easy emerger that you can tie in a few minutes
Until next time.
Fly for now!