Thread: MFC 8/0 or UTC 70, olive or brown
Body: Dubbed mixture of yellow (old) Marc Petitjean CDC and Light Olive Ice Dub
Thorax: Red Marc Petitjean CDC
Hackle: Partridge, natural or dyed burnt orange
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Note: Vary the colors and size to match any caddis species, stillwater, stream or river. Contrasting abdomens and thorax combinations have proven successful at times. Smaller sizes work well when trout are concentrating on emerging or egg laying chironomids.
The vicious swirl of a marauding trout in the near shore shallows of a favorite lake reduces the calmest fly fisher to mush. In the spring migrating damsels draw this response, in the fall just prior to ice up scuds or water boatman might be the hapless quarry. In late summer emerging sedges are often a popular target, especially those of the Cinnamon clan. The challenge facing stillwater fly fishers targeting aggressive shallow water predators is devising slow sinking patterns that can be presented with minimal risk of snagging bottom. Retarded sink rate flies stay in the strike zone longer with the added benefit of reducing the chances of spooking trout as the fly fisher struggles to free fouled flies.
Despite the modern reliance on manmade materials such as foam as source of buoyancy there is an unsung natural material worth considering, CDC. CDC (Cul De Canard) literally means from the butt of the duck and are the versatile marabou like feathers located around the preen gland. It was once believed that the preen oils saturating these feathers provided the legendary buoyancy. With many colors now available the magic of preen oil is a myth as the dying process eliminates the natural oils. A closer look at a CDC plume reveals the true source of its charm. The individual barbs of the feathers interlock, resisting collapse and combining together to create a distinct natural source of floatation. So much so that these marabou clones actually gather air bubbles to further attract fish to the fly. The challenge with CDC has been taking full advantage of the feather. Dubbing the barbules is possible by plucking or trimming clumps from the plume but it is fussy. Winding the feather onto the hook is another option but stem on some plumes can be tough to manage.
A few of years ago innovative Swiss fly tyer Marc Petitjean introduced the world to a fantastic set of tools appropriately named the Magic Tool. The Magic Tool allows fly tyers to control materials such as thick stemmed grizzly marabou and CDC. The tool can also be used to combine and blend different materials together so they can be placed into a dubbing loop such as CDC and dubbing or rabbit fur and Polar Chenille. Fly tyers are only limited by their own imagination and creativity. The Magic Tool consists of 3 clear plastic “benches” 2 clear plastic clips and 2 ridged dowls. The benches feature spring loaded jaws designed to fold feathered materials and isolate the stems for easy removal. Allowing fly tyers to see their materials and adjust their length according to fly size the clear clips transfer the folded materials from the bench to the dubbing loop. A source of curious questions for many the ridged dowels are used for adding synthetic materials such as Crystal Flash and Flashbou to the dubbing mixtures this tool easily creates. Marc Petijean includes a detailed color pamphlet with each Magic Tool illustrating some common uses and versatility of his Magic Tool. Video clips can also be seen at www.marcpetijean.com.
Using the Magic Tool is easy. Begin by choosing an appropriate bench. Feathered materials should overhang the edges of the bench so they can be grasped and manipulated. Stroke feathered materials from the tip to the butt standing the individual barbs perpendicular to the stem. Lay the prepared feather flat on the bench. If combining dubbing and feathers lay a balanced pinch of dubbing on top of the feather. Prepare a second feather and lay it on top of the first feather sandwiching the dubbing in the process. Get into the habit of laying the second feather in the opposite direction as the first, butt to tip. This pays dividends when combining heavy stemmed feathers. Grasp the ends of the feathers with the thumb and forefinger of each hand and using firm steady pressure force the feathers down folding the feathers into the jaws of the bench. If the feathers or other materials fight back or risk breakage heavy thread or fine wire may be used to guide the materials into the jaws of the bench. Once the materials are folded within the jaws pull the wire or thread out from one side of the bench. Fur strips can also be combined with other materials. The fur strip should be no wider than 1/16 of an inch so it slides easily between the jaws of the bench. Once again gradual pressure works best for easing the materials into the bench jaws.
Once the materials are folded within the bench trim the tips and stems protruding out the sides. Avoid accidentally opening the bench by holding at the top near the folded materials. Take the appropriate clear clip and grasp the material tips sticking out of the bench. Open the bench and slide the clip down removing the blended materials. Sliding the clip down avoids pinching any material in the springs of bench. Deliberate motions during the transfer process helps as the tyer becomes familiar with the Magic Tool. The transfer process soon becomes second nature. Take advantage of the clear view the clips provide to adjust the grip and measuring the materials to length. With the materials within the jaws of the clip trim the stems from the dubbing equation. The materials are ready for insertion into the dubbing loop. Use the wedge shape of the clear clip and wrist action to ease the materials into the dubbing loop. For flies requiring multiple dubbing applications the wedge shape of the clip assists opening the loop at the base to surgically slide additional dubbing clumps without disturbing previous applications. Dubbing wax is not necessary. The clip is also ideal for grasping fur strips by the tips so the hide can be trimmed without worry of spilling fur everywhere. Dubbed fur bodies and thoraxes are a durable alternative that pulse and breathe in the slightest of currents or slowest of retrieves.