CDC in the canyon

Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
In the canyon last friday, my CDC caddis ties were impressing everyone in the boat. I was using regular
undyed home plucked mallard, but it was a cool grannom gray. People were even asking me "What is
CDC? Where did you hear about them?" Then I brought up the 22 inch fish!

But it seemed like it was one fish per fly. After getting slimed, they just didn't sit as pretty. I tried swishing
them around, then desiccating powder, and managed to get them partially revived, but just to the
living-dead state. The casanova style dubbed deer hair body ones floated better, but the wings were dead.
What should I do, duck the "honey-do" list and tie a several dozen? I'd better just forget the dubbed deer
hair bodies, they take too long. The regulars are so simple, dubbing/wing!

Or is there a secret streamside revival method?


i've abandoned CDC for this very reason. honest to god, who has time/$$$ to tie on a fly every time it gets taken/dunked/beer spilled on it?

btw, heard teh mother's day hatch in the canyon this wkend was staunch.


Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
I think that Friday we were seeing not only grannoms, but glossoma and bigger tanner hydropsyche. I haven't
abandoned CDC. Now I want to try some tan CDC for these hydropsychies. It was a bit muddy below
Wilson Creek, and I thought at first there'd be no hatch. It was nymphing only until about 14:30, then the
blizzard hit. Better clarity from Lmuna down.

Maybe I can keep the bodies and tie on new wings.
There is no solution. When the fishing is hot but tough enough to require the CDC, about all you can do is look in your box and sigh, "I guess I'm going to catch six fish." (or whatever.)

The secret is the balance between tying enough flies, and not getting greedy with them: They work great, but they're not always absolutely necessary. Try to make yourself see what else is working (or not) before you wind up spending your secret weapons. You don't want to have only two left when the gulping starts. (BTW: once they're slimed, they'll NEVER float quite right, at least not for long. They're not worth saving and mixing up with your fresh ones.)

You can tie a slightly more durable fly that works just about as well, but is more trouble to tie, so it might be a wash, but here it is: Tie the same fly (curved, dubbed body, some kind of shuck, maybe a beard of partridge for dangling legs), but use a ragged clump of zelon or antron for the "emergent," swept-back wing, then a short high-vis post right above it and a parachute hackle. The body/shuck hangs below the film, the parachute hackle makes a surface "impression" (though maybe not as "soft" and realistic as the CDC does -- I think that's the real secret of CDC's effectiveness), it will last through several fish, and the high-vis post might even make it easier to see. I will admit that the CDC probably works a little better.

(I did once have a jar of some kind of liquid dope that instantly dried any fly, no matter how drowned, INCLUDING fish-slimed CDC. I think it had Benzyne or something in it though; it gave you a killer headache. I worried that if I spilled it in my fiberglass boat it would eat a hole in the bottom. By the time the jar was half-empty there was enough air in there to evaporate the rest. I 've never found any more. I'm sure the government took it off the market or reclassified it for military use only.)
I happen to be a graduate student in chemistry, and it seems to me that if you could find something to dissolve the fish's slime, it might leave the CDC good as new. Obviously, water will not work... If benzene dissolves the slime, then maybe something much less toxic (like isopropyl alcohol or ethanol (rum:151 or strong vodka)) would also clean off the fly. I will take along small containers of these solvents next time I go fishing, and I will let you know if it works. The only problem with this situation is that family *new baby) prevents me from going fishing very often. SO, maybe one of you wonderful readers out there can try this for me... One might also try a biodegradable soap solution, if you can keep it out of the water.


how's about single malt scotch? will that work? i usually keep a small vial of that around just in case i have to disinfect a cut or clean out a snake bite or what have you...

I am also a chemist, and think that dissolving the fish slime is the way to go. I will bring along a vial of acetone, which might work to dissolve the slime as well as dry the fly. I am also going to try the stuff called simple green. It seems to be about the best at emulsifying grease and oil. You would still have to dry the fly after cleaning it with the simple green. I will post here and let you know what I find out.

So are all chemists fishermen, or do only chemists fish!


Paul Huffman

Driven by irrational exuberance.
Darn it, Ray, you're almost giving away my other secret caddis tie. I am finding that I like to cast that fly,
which I can see, with a CDC caddis, which I can't see but catches all the fish, behind. Praise be to the Fish
and Game Commission for making the regs more clear on that.

Any solvents to cure slimed CDC would have to be smart enough to target the slime but not the preen oil. If
the slime is polycarbonate/ protein goo and the preen oil is like, well, an oil, I wonder if Helpful Helouise
would use maybe pineapple juice. Pineapple hinders the setting up of Jello (Joy of Cooking, Irma
Rombauer, et al.)
I'm also a grad student in chemistry. I wouldn't use acetone for the simple reason that it might damage your leader. I use acetone to get rid of the plastic part at the ends of my lines so I can make a nice little loop with the resulting naked dacron.
I don't know if you knew but CDC stands for Cul de Canard (Ass of Duck). You all know that the CDC feathers are located in the back of ducks, around the gland that they have. I'm french and I was really surprised to see in different articles that you called them CDC as well, just as we do.
Anyway, we use the CDC a lot in France. I used them a lot when I was still using dry flies (I haven't caught a fish on a dry fly for a long long time). To clean them, wash them after each fish, dry them with any kind of absorbent paper, make a couple of really fast cast and that should dry your fly. However, keep in mind that they fish best when they have caught a fish, when they don't float high on the surface, that's why we like them. I even tie nymphs with them.