CDC Needle Fly

CDC – Cul dCanard (CDC) (French for “duck bottom”) are the feathers from the back of a duck directly around the preen gland. The feathers are very light and have very soft fi bres, which add to a very lifelike appearance. Using CDC feathers for tying fl ies has a history dating back to the 1920s. Tying with CDC gained popularity through the tools Swiss fl y tier Marc Petitjean designs & distributes.

I used CDC patterns very early on. In the late 90’s, I had watched Marc Petitjean very closely at a show in Belgium. It was very easy to understand what he was talking about.

I was familiar with the splitting thread technique, as this was the only way I could get the mohair wool dubbing I was using on to the thread. I am not sure why, but I always liked scruffy flies. They worked well in the small streams we fished in Germany.

Anyway, back to the main topic. CDC is a very nice material and it is especially effective in smaller flies. There are three patterns which are showing different approaches to tying with CDC.

  • CDC Needle Fly
  • CDC Humpy
  • CDC & Elk

Technically speaking the problem with the CDC is the feathers stem. It is the lightweight fibres that we want as material, not that stiff stem. Most of the time it is just in the way. Therefore techniques had to be developed to separate the fibres from the stem and use them as tying material. There are two approaches. One is to cut the stem off while holding the fibres in a material clamp. This is perfect, should one want to generate a hackle brush. – see techniques / dubbing loop

The other technique is to roll the feather around a needle (or the hook) and so separate the fibre from the stem. In the next three patterns this technique is used. It’s often misunderstood what the purpose of this technique is, but just think that you want to end up with a CDC fibre bundle.

CDC Needle Fly

The needle fly is a small stonefly appearing early spring. The very dark brown, almost black body helps to get as much energy from the sunlight as possible.

Dark, natural CDC is perfect for this fly. The Material used is Peacock dubbing in black, a size 18 standard dry fly hook and one CDC feather of medium size.

I sort the feathers I buy by size and pack them in pouches marked puffs, small, medium and large. This helps considerably when trying to find

the right material when tying.

For this fly a specific tool is needed. It’s the Marryat CDC tool. If you can not find it in your local shop, you could try making one yourself by soldering three needles together and use a wine cork, needle vice or something similar as a handle to hold the three needles.

Many needles in that story, but this is not why this fly is called needle fly.

Fly Tying at Skålestrømmen

Fly tying classes are part of the inclusive packages we offer at Skålestrømmen. You can learn to make these all these flies yourself. Tying materials and tools will be supplied if cannot bring your own.

The fly shown works very well in Skålestrømmen (and around the world). There are of course many other, mostly more complicated types of flies that also work, but we like it simple and efficient.

This fly and video are part of “Fly Tying – Modern Classics for Trout and Grayling – by Thomas Züllich” Fly Tying by Thomas Züllich is a digital book available on the apple bookstore and also via the Skålestrømmen online store. You can order and download a pdf version, which you can use in conjunction with the instructional videos on YouTube.

The book includes 90 minutes of video, over 100 pages of text and a many interactive graphics. The beauty is that you can read and learn about fly tying techniques at your own pace and then use the videos on your computer.

The intention is to make the fly angler understand and fabricate effective trout flies and also being able to improve and simplify the flies he’s been tying so far. The approach is to use old techniques and take them further to modern flies. While the reader can learn semi realistic nymphs and extended body flies, as well as patterns just based on one or two materials.

Staying true to his German craftsman roots, the author approaches fly tying in very efficient way. Thomas Züllich is a well respected fly tier known for his engaging and fresh approach.

The book features crisp interactive graphic content, videos and over 100 pages of informative and entertaining text. The book’s glossary explains over 100 fly fishing specific terms. To even learn more and discuss the fly patterns in the book the author maintains a facebook group. –

ALSO AVAILABLE AS IBOOK The book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device. Multi-touch books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device. Books with interactive features may work best on an iOS device. iBooks on your Mac requires OS X 10.9 or later.

THIS MATERIAL IS PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT. Excerpt From Fly Tying by Thomas Züllich available on Apple iBooks
THIS MATERIAL IS PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT. Excerpt From Fly Tying by Thomas Züllich available on Apple iBooks