Cul De Canard (CDC) or translated, “Ducks bottom” – the place where the feathers come from, surrounding the preen gland, the uropygial gland, not that we need to worry too much about that! The buoyancy of the feathers is due to the preen oil secreted by the gland and used by the duck for cleaning and waterproofing its feathers.
These feathers were first used in the 1920s in dry flies for fishing the clear streams of the Jura Mountains along the France-Switzerland border – the original CDC pattern was the ‘Moustique’. Reliable research suggests that it was either Charles Bickel or Maximilien Joset that should be credited as the first to use CDC in fly construction. But, it was only in the 1980s that there was real wide spread interest in CDC when Slovenian, Marjan Fratnik introduced his revolutionary F Fly. New techniques and wonderful fly patterns were developed by pioneers the likes of Gerhard Liable and Marc Petitjean. The rest is history – today CDC is used extensively in a wide range of flies, not just dry flies and for almost every component from trailing shucks, bodies to parachute hackles.
Scratching through my materials recently I came across a packet of old unused CDC Puffs – probably bought because I hadn’t seen them before and like many of us do, just add them to the rest of the mountain of fly tying materials we are inclined to horde. The Puffs are small immature feathers without developed quills that surrounding the preen gland – oilier, they are ideal for dry flies and emergers and especially small patterns.
I have always wanted a small Kinkhammer/Para RAB style fly – To justify their existence amongst my materials, the CDC Puff pulled the idea together and so the first experimental ‘Klink Para RAB’ for want of a better name, has come off the vice.
Anyone interested in learning more about the history of CDC in fly tying, the pioneers, the techniques and some interesting patters, should get hold of a copy of Leon Links book, ‘Tying Flies with CDC – The Fisherman’s Miracle Feather.’ I’m sure Craig Thom of Net Books – http://www.netbooks.co.za/ – would be able to help with sourcing a copy, if not in stock.
All you need is a #22 Varivas 2200BL B hook, tying thread for the abdomen (I use the hyper-fine Jan Siman for all my flies smaller than #18 – http://shop.siman.cz/), a CDC Puff, and squirrel tail hair for the hackle tied Para RAB style, a little concentration, 20/20 vision or magnifying glasses.
It is yet to be tested, but I have a good feeling for our mountain streams – fingers crossed.
All images and copy in this post are copyright Peter Brigg Photography © 2015. All rights reserved