THE CDC MIDGE
This simple to tie micro pattern of mine has proved itself time and again over the last few years on Western Cape streams and on at least two Eastern Cape streams, the Coldbrook, a tributary of the Sterkspruit, and on the upper section of the Willow Stream on Balloch. But there is another major arena where the pattern did amazingly well – on the brown trout in the Upper Itchen in Hampshire! In fact it did so well there I was robbed of just about every CdC Midge I had in my fly box.
Rainbow on a CdC midge
I gratuitously believe it imitates a Net-winged Midge, a common insect on Cape streams,
but gradually I’ve come to realise it does an equally good job imitating small, dark mayflies generally. I also think we tend to forget just how wide the legs are spread on adult mayflies and how prominent they are.
In the series of pictures of adult mayflies (all taken on Cape streams) notice that the legs are nearly as long as the bodies and are an obvious trigger – to the naked eye anyway. I know a lot of the standard features of mayfly imitations are missing on this pattern – like the wings, long tails and segmented abdomen – but judging from the takes I get when trout are selectively eating small dark mayflies, the CdC Midge passes as a serviceable imitation, probably also of cripples, even emergers.
What you will need to tie this fly
Dry fly hook with fine wire and standard shank length in sizes 16 through 20.
Fine black or dark grey thread. 8/0 works well enough, but for smaller patterns you may want to go finer.
Bright orange poly yarn (preferably pre-treated with Hydrostop but that’s not essential).
A natural dark grey CdC feather in small and medium sizes.
Dress the front third of the hook shank with thread and leave the bobbin about 3-4 mm back from the eye.
Separate out a two the three centimetre strip of poly yarn. Keep the strip thin, say approximately matchstick wide.
Tie it in wrapping thread over its base moving in the direction of the tail and add some reinforced turns around the base of the stalk to help anchor and support it.
Prepare the CdC feather by removing any long straggly fibres near the base then separate out a section of the quill fibres at the base of the stalk as illustrated. The object is to get some fibres over a small section at the base of the stalk to stand out and to be separated from the fibres above them. The separated fibres will form the ‘legs’ of the fly in the final stage of tying.
Take the thread to the tail and tie in the CdC hackle as illustrated. Notice the point on the stalk where the feather is tied onto the shank. You will need two wraps of thread around the stalk at this point, but don’t wrap tightly.
Now grab hold of the end of the stalk and pull the feather through the wraps of thread until just a millimetre or two of the tip fibres are left protruding as a ‘tail’.
Now twist the hackle once and using hackle pliers gripping the end of the stalk wrap the entire body with even wraps of the CdC feather.
Try to also cover the thorax area and the hook shank in front of the Poly yarn.
Pull the poly yarn strip firmly upwards and wind one, or at the most two, full turns of the remaining CdC feather around the stalk parachute style. It takes a little practice and you need to learn how to swop hands when doing it.
If you don’t pull upwards firmly the stalk will tend to slide off the poly yarn as above.
Tie off the stalk just behind the eye of the hook making sure you get your tying thread under the ‘legs’ so as not to trap them when you close the knot. Tie off but do not use any head cement. It tends to get into the fine, wispy CdC fibres ruining their movement. Now trim the poly yarn and you're done.
Fishing the CdC Midge
Fishing micro-patterns has a few drawbacks, not the least being that they are invariably difficult to see and follow in the drift. Fortunately the orange poly yarn lights up on this pattern making it extremely easy to see.
Mountain stream trout taken on a CdC midge just visible in its mouth
I use 7X tippets and fish this fly short on a very long leader.
In hatches of small insects where the trout are selective and difficult, I now go to this CdC Midge because it seems to cover so many bases. I add a little length to the tippet, take up a position in a pool, stay dead still for a few minutes and then throw short casts at fish I can easily reach.