Autumn On The EB

Autumn On The EB

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Another Look At CDC, Our Rivers And Lost Stuff

For wet flies, a short leader on the order of seven feet will do nicely. Few, if any, wet-fly patterns are small enough to require overly delicate tippets, and given the savage nature of the strikes a short, heavier leader is highly advantageous". Thomas Ames Jr. in Hatch Guide For New England Streams                                                                                        
A short American history of CDC - CDC feathers have been used in Europe for a 100 years (except for the staid old Brits) but CDC didn't really knock on our door until the early 1980's. And with it came the usual well meaning hyperbole (nice way of saying bullshit) about its effectiveness.

1. The feather has natural preen oil infused which is why it floats so well
Answer - There is NO oil in these feather, preen oil or not. Dump any oil on this feather and it SINKS!. It's floating ability is due to the STRUCTURE of the feather. Each barb of this feather has dozens, maybe hundreds of other barbs that grab the surface tension to keep it on the surface.  It is amazing that this preen oil thing lasted for over 20 years and I still have folks claiming that it's the reason that it floats.

2. These feathers come from ducks and geese which the trout know are harmless to them and that's why they are so effective.
Answer - This takes the first prize for moon-bat logic. 100 years ago trout and salmon flies were tied with heron feathers and kingfisher feathers and god knows what other fish eating birds that had good feathers. Following this train of logic I wonder why my nymphs, tied with raw, untreated mink, were so effective when the trout should of been beaching themselves to get away from my humble offering.  Thankfully that train of logic derailed long ago!

Now for the rest of my post!

I was going through my supply of CDC feathers a few weeks ago and realized that I spend a lot of money on these feathers and I go through a LOT of them. They are the most expensive (legal) fly tying material that I have running easily into the hundreds of $$ per pound. I love them because they float so well and I have resisted the recent fad of using them on subsurface patterns because I'll need them for surface patterns. Now, I will tie in "feather fluff" (plumes of wispy material found on grouse, hen and God knows what else at the base of those feathers) to get another kind of "breathing" material that I want. I've covered that: you don't need CDC on a subsurface fly to get life like results. The question is: Can I get LOTS of CDC without going to the prepackaged stuff that equals the cost of cocaine? (editors note- sorry to offend anyone with a drug reference. CDC and cocaine costs way too much!)

Well, I decided to tie up some good old Hornbergs for this early season and pulled out my bag of mallard breast feathers which were once a major staple of any fly tyer (that barred feather is perfect). Most fly tiers under forty probably don't have them and wouldn't know what to do with them if they even had them outside of wing cases if that's even done anymore.

Lightening stuck when I pulled out a mallard breast feather from that bag of hundreds of feathers. THE BASE OF THE FEATHER,UNLIKE GROUSE AND HEN FEATHERS, WAS ALL CDC STRUCTURE which is made to float!! (a magnifying glass proved that and double clicking the above feather photo proves that). I cut some off, placed them across the hook, tied them down, secured them with a little dubbing, pulled them UP and then cut them to shape. Perfect! Instead of picking through a tiny bag for the right feather I had an  almost a pillow size bag of very useful mallard and all the CDC that I used to toss away.

The "feather base CDC" works great for posts or full wings and will do well subsurface which, given all of the other flowing, absorbent materials out there, would be a waste!

The Rivers - as of 10:30 am
Millers - 1390 CFS
Bears Den - 438 cfs
EB            - 2000 CFS
Ware        -  321 CFS
Swift        - 56 cfs
Mill River in Northampton - 908 cfs

The Ware and the Swift are fishable. The EB will be down to 400 by Wednesday. It was very fishable this weekend with a flow of approximately 400 but no fish to speak of.

Things will get better!!!!!

P.S. Check the comments section for lost items.



Brian said...


I have pile of mallard feathers and never took a look at the quill end of those feathers. Thank you


hockey_dad said...

Found: wooden net on the upstream part of the Ware river at the bridge that was loaded with fisherman yesterday morning. Found the net at about 10:30 am. It looks like a good net and I am posting this because a couple of weeks ago I lost a rod and reel which I had for about 30 years, bought it for one of my kids( it turned out they didn't like fly fishing). Put up sign near where the rod and reel was lost and still waiting for someone to come forward, I thought of my situation when I saw the net.

Anonymous said...

Not directly on topic but good day on the swift today. First time I needed size 10 dries! Big hatch of green drakes? Ames picture of bwo duns matches exactly (page 120) but these were 20mm at least.never seen flies that big on the swift before but haven't fished in the spring much. Is this a usual season event?

Millers River Flyfisher said...


The Hendrickson hatch on the Swift is usually in mid May when the water temperature hits the mid fifties. Check the photo on page 70 of Ames book. Could that be it??


On what river did you lose the rod/reel. It would help.


hockey_dad said...

Thanks ken - I guess that would help!The rod/reel with sinking tip line was lost at the West river in Uxbridge,MA on April 28. It's an 8.5 ft. Sage rod.

fischmeister57 said...

Great remarks on CDC, Ken. I fished in Germany and Austria from 1992 until 2009 and CDC was all the rage. Here is a good article on CDC by Hans Weilenmann.

His CDC&Elk is one of my most productive dry fly patterns.


Anonymous said...

Could be Hendrickson's. Two types of fly which match the description of male and female.First time I have fished a proper hatch and had a vague idea of what was going on! Given the size of the females makes me wonder what size nymphs must be crawling around...

Millers River Flyfisher said...


As I said they were probably hendricksons. The nymph is actually smaller than the adult.


Good to hear from my bamboo friend!! CDC/Elk doesn't want to sink!!

Anonymous said...

Hockey Dad,that might be my net which went missing.Thought I lost it Saturday on the Millers but I was at the Ware by the airport on thursday.If it has my initial logo FM carved into the handle it's mine.If it is, its yours ,as I bought one from Charlie at the ES flyshop that is much better.Hope you get your gear back. Freelon

BobT said...

Hey Ken as a fellow CDC aficionado I too agree the cost of these feather is rather stiff but then again I just purchased 3 whiting necks so.... I do have a couple of recommendations: Utilize the Petijean Magic tool to get the most out of each feather. A google of his You Tube videos will give you an idea what you can do with the tools. 2. Montana Fly Company (MFC) sells good quality CDC in 3 gram pack for about $7.50. Its a lot of feathers...also I find the Marc Petijean CDC to be of superb quality and it too is sold in bulk quantity of 5 gram packs in addition to the 1 gram pack and the last source would be Trouthunter CDC... 3.5 gram packs excellent quality. The small packs most fly shops have are maybe 20-25 feathers...a 1 gram pack probably has 50-60 feathers and a three gram MFC pack has well over 150. Those three brands have large feathers which if you use the magic tool will tie a ton of flies.

Millers River Flyfisher said...

Hey Hockey Dad,

Check the comment above about the net that you found. Good people are on this blog!

Bob T,

I enjoy your comments - all good information and insight. I have been using Nature's Spirit in 1 gram packs. Lots of large feathers but I will scope out those 5 gram packs. I may buy a duck also!!!!!


hockey_dad said...

Anonymous- I noticed the carving on the handle so it looks like it's your net. I appreciate the kind offer and of course it's up to you but I plan on being at the Ware next Saturday and if you want to get your net at that time just let me know. I also appreciate your kind words on my gear. We'll see.

You're right Ken good people are on this blog !