The French call it Croupion de Canard; to you and me it is C.D.C., or Duck rump feathers. We have been using these feathers in the U.K. for a number of years now, although they have been used on the continent considerably longer. Like it or not, they are here to stay, they have become an integral material in the tying of flies for a large number of tyers.

I have spoken to many anglers and fly tyers who have mixed ideas as to what C.D.C. is. I hope in this article to clarify some of the misnomers surrounding this feather

Firstly, the feather does not in fact come from the rump, but is located around a small gland or nipple, just in front of where the tail starts on the birds back. Secondly, it is not only ducks who posses this feather, geese, cormorants and some members of the parrot family are blessed with these wondrous feathers.

As I mentioned before these feathers surround the small nipple or gland on the bird's back, which exudes an oil which water proofs and conditions the birds plumage, or so it has been stated in numerous angling books. However I am not sure that this is so. If you care to take a C.D.C. feather and place it under a low powered microscope and then study the feathers closely you will notice that the fibres that come off the stem have multi stem fibres coming off them. My believe on this is that the oil has only a small part to play in helping the feather to float, the main reason for the feathers floating so well is the structure of the feather. I'll leave you to make up your own mind on that idea!

As for the uses of C.D.C. as the old saying goes "its as versatile as an egg". You can use them on wings for hackles and bodies. In fact any fly that you wish to float, C.D.C. can be incorporated into the pattern.

For my own fly patterns I prefer to use it either for wings or bodies and there are quite a few methods that can be used, though I have narrowed these down to 2 or 3 for my own tying.

My methods are outlined below:

One of my favourite patterns in which I incorporate C.D.C. feathers is when I am tying an Elk Hair Caddis. The sedge body when tyed with C.D.C. is done so using a technique called "furling" which consists of twisting a C.D.C. feather to form a rope; this is quite easy, with a bit of practice. Now selecting a good quality C.D.C. feather (either brown, cinnamon or grey) attach the thread just behind the eye of the hook and wind it to a point about half way along the shank. Next, with a couple of wraps of thread, attach the C.D.C. feather by the butt-end, using progressive wraps of thread, drag the feather along the shank, gathering up the fibres as you pull the feather. When you have reached the bend you should be left with the feather attached by its tip, with most of the fibres bunched together. These should be secured with a few more wraps of the thread and then return the thread to just behind the eye. Now fix a pair of hackle pliers to the butt and twist the feather in a clock wise direction. Once you have formed a rope, wrap the C.D.C. rope with touching turns to just behind the eye of the hook and secure with a few wraps of the thread. Now add a small bunch of Elk Hair on top of the hook shank with the tips just beyond the bend of the hook, secure with a few wraps of thread and whip finish and cut away the thread. Now trim the butt ends of the hair leaving about 2 or 3mm beyond the thread wraps; this forms a small head.

My next method I use for emergers, after tying in the tail and body.

I usually make my body length about 3/4 of the shank of the hook, using the same method as before I attach a C.D.C. feather on top of the hook shank with the butt end of the feather pointing towards the bend of the hook. Now that you have secured the feather by its tip, dub on some "spiky" hair from a hares mask, wind it towards the eye of the hook. Now bring over the C.D.C. feather, knotting it tightly, leaving a loop of feather, and securing the feather just behind the hook eye and then whip finish. If you wish, you can pick out some of the hair to give the suggestion of legs.

I hope you will try these methods out and use the pattern when out fishing next.

Tight Threads.

Peter Scott

(Peter can be contacted at Angling Pursuits tel: 0141 944 7658)