CDC Information

This is info that I wanted and thought others might find a use for.

CDC Types

Type 1: This feather resembles a partridge body feather. The feather has a rounded tip and a fairly short, tapered stem with barbs set at approximately 60 degrees from the stem.
I wrap this feather around the shank to produce body and trailing filaments for the CDC & Elk.

Type 2: This feather has a thin stem and the barbs run mostly parallel to the stem, ending in a square, brush-like tip.

These feathers are good for wings including wing posts and loop wings in patterns such as the Snowflake Dun (Roman Moser), the CDC Micro Caddis (Ronald Leyzen), the CDC No-hackle, and the CDC Loop Wing Emerger.

Type 3: The nipple plume, sometimes referred to as oiler puff. This short feather lacks a discernable stem but looks broadly similar to a Type 2 feather.

This feather is ideal for tails, trailing shucks, and emerging wings for such patterns as the Snowflake Dun, the Balloon Emerger (Roman Moser), and various RS 2-type flies.

Type 4: This feather has a long stem with relatively short barbs. Shop-bought bulk packages mostly hold Type 4 feathers. I use these feathers to tie IOBO Humpy patterns and to wrap the body on large hook size versions of the CDC & Elk, such as in the CDC & Elk Streamer or the Bonefish CDC & Elk (Paul Slaney). Rene Harrop uses Type 4 feathers for downwing flies such as his CDC Transitional Caddis.

Harvesting CDC
The best quality CDC comes straight off the bird. The harvesting process is simple and swift and the average mature bird provides between 70 and 100 usable feathers.
Once you lift the cover feathers, you can easily locate the preen gland by feel as well as sight. The visible part of the gland shows up like a shiny pebble protruding from the surrounding skin and is capped by a clump of feather puffs (Type 3 feathers, or oiler puffs) saturated with oil. On the illustration these feathers are shaded darker and are just below the thumbnail. The larger feathers surround the gland and increase in size as they get farther away from the center. On a mature mallard the stem on the longest feathers that still retain the CDC structure may be close to 2 inches long. On a goose they may exceed 3 inches.

For those who hunt or have friends that hunt ducks, or for those interested in where the CDC feathers are located on the bird, this drawing depicts the exact location of the CDC feathers.

Store the saturated oiler puffs with the rest of the feathers and in a few days the oil will have dispersed evenly across the feathers, leaving the oiler puffs fluffy.

Fresh CDC feathers are mostly free from vermin, but to be safe put the container with feathers in the freezer for a couple days to kill any mature bugs. This may leave some eggs intact, so remove the container from the freezer for a day or two to allow any surviving eggs to hatch, then put it back into the freezer for a couple days to finish the process.

Tips and Tricks With CDC
Bleaching: Bleaching natural dun-colored CDC feathers in a mixture of equal amounts of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and household ammonia results in a wonderful warm light-amber color. The timing is not critical and may range from several hours to an overnight soak. Rinse the feathers in fresh water and let them air-dry. The resultant feather stem remains pliant, and the bleaching process appears to leave the feather structure mostly intact. The hydrogen peroxide and ammonia mixture gives off unpleasant and unhealthy fumes, so make sure the area is well ventilated.

Dubbing: Barbules broken away from the stem make nice dubbing material. Use them alone or mix in other natural fur or synthetic dubbing.

Bodies: Roll a Type 2 feather on a sheet of firm foam. Press the feather down with your fingertips and roll perpendicular to the stem. Start from the butt and work up toward the tip. Once you form the "rope" you can tie it in by the tip and wrap it around the shank for a buoyant and naturally tapered body. Many of Marc Petitjean's patterns feature this style of body. Including the stem makes these bodies virtually bulletproof, without the need of a reinforcing rib.

Trimming: When you cut CDC with scissors, you get an unnatural looking square edge. "Tear away" the excess length of the barbules for ends resembling the natural tips.

Drying: I prefer to dry my CDC patterns using amadou. I have experimented with other drying agents such as Shimazaki Dry Shake and Frog's Fanny, but it appears that once you use either of the two on a pattern, the buoyancy only lasts one fish before the drying agents need to be reapplied. Flies dried with amadou can be fluffed up by blowing air on them, or with several false casts.
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