Stu Farnham

December 16th, 2002

A Fly Fisher's Library
By Stu Farnham

The Internet is a powerful resource. It provides us instant access to information, and brings us together via email, bulletin boards, chat rooms, and instant messaging. FAOL is a wonderful example of the Internet at its best. The Internet, however, will never replace the printed page.

I've loved books and fishing since my youngest years, although I did not start fly fishing until 1993. This column will give me an opportunity to share reviews of some of my favorite fly fishing and tying books (and some that are not such favorites) with my friends here at FAOL. My library reflects my tastes and interests, and so will this column. It will be heavily slanted towards cold water fishing and tying for trout and steelhead, and won't touch much on areas of which I know little, such as warm or salt water fishing.

I hope that these reviews will motivate some of you to pick up a good book, on this or any subject, and read. ~ Stu Farnham


Tying Flies With CDC:
The Flyfisher's Miracle Feather

Tying Flies With CDC: The Flyfisher's Miracle Feather
by Leon Links
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Stackpole Books
ISBN: 0811700399 (2002)

CDC, that wonderful feather from around the preen gland of waterfowl, has been used for fly tying in Europe since the 1920s. The earliest reference I can find in book form in North America is in Darrel Martin's excellent 1987 Fly Tying Methods. I've heard of earlier articles in fly fishing magazines in the US, but have not been able to verify those references. The feathers' utility is variously attributed to oil from the preen gland, or bubbles trapped by the feathers' unique structure. I won't weigh in with an opinion as to cause, but CDC is a favorite material of mine for its very lifelike appearance. It is just plain buggy.

Author Leon Links

Dutch fly fisher and tier Leon Links has written a book about this remarkable material. Leon begins by explaining those characteristics that appeal to him in CDC as a tying material: light weight for delicate presentation; low air resistance to aid in casting, natural color and transparency, and buoyancy. Citing research by Marc Petitjean, he traces the history of CDC's application in fly tying to the Swiss town of Courfaivre in the 1920s in flies tied by Maximillian Joset and later by his protégé Louis Veya, and to flies tied commercially in the town of Vallorbe by Charles Bickel.

The application of CDC was taken up by the French, and advanced by such well-known tiers as Henri Bresson, Aime Devaux and r. Jean-Paul Pequegnot. Instructions for tying Devaux's evolution of the original Swiss moustique patterns, and Pequegnot's Assassine are included.

Following the historical introduction is a chapter on the feathers themselves. Links describes how the various types of CDC feather can be applied as hackle, as whole feathers or in bunches, in spinning loops, as dubbing, and twisted into a rope to form the body of a fly. Information is also included on the structure and natural colors of CDC feathers, as well as the challenges associated with dyeing CDC without destroying its lifelike characteristics.

Yes, that part of the duck The rest of the book is devoted to the use of CDC by noted fly tiers, starting with CDC pioneers Marjan Fratnik, developer of the simple but effective F Fly, Gerhard Laible and his dubbing-loop technique for using CDC, and Marc Petitjean, ho applies CDC to a hook in a number of creative and useful manners.

Leon's survey of CDC tiers and their flies continues with the work of a number of well - and lesser-known tiers: bead head pioneer Theo Bakelaar, Hans Van Klinken of Klinkhamer fame, Italians Paolo Jaia and Gig Goldoni, Clive Perkins from the UK, and Americans Rene Harrop and Marvin Nolte are among those whose CDC patterns are included in the book. Links also includes a section of his own patterns.

There is also a short section of fishing CDC flies. The main caution here is never to treat CDC feathers with conventional floatants, as these will mat the feathers and kill their lifelike movement. CDC flies, which are waterlogged or slimed can be dried with a patch of amadou and refreshed with any of the various crystal desiccants available commercially.

This specialized book is a fine addition to the intermediate or advanced fly tier's library. For the North American tier, it provides a refreshing look at some of the patterns and techniques used elsewhere in the fly fishing world ~ Stu Farnham

About Stu

Stu tying Stu Farnham is a New Englander by birth, who was transplanted to and put down roots in Oregon in the early 1990s, now residing in the Seattle area. A software engineering manager by vocation, he can be found in his spare time chasing trout and steelhead in the rivers of the Pacific Northwest, chasing his four Gordon Setters (who in turn are chasing chukar), tying flies, reading, or working on his website. Colleen, his long suffering wife of 28 years, is a professionally trained personal chef.

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