The CDC Emerger Series

March Brown CDC Emerger

Somewhere in the vicinity of thirty years ago I developed a series of emergers tied with CDC feathers. The premise was to tie a good match for a specific mayfly nymph, incorporating CDC feathers in the insect’s wing color. The CDC was tied in in a low loop to trap air bubbles that would hold the fly in the surface film, and the loose fibers that escaped the thread were allowed to trail and move in the current.

Since I was chasing the Hendrickson hatch on the Gunpowder back then, the first emerger I tied was the Hendrickson. It was followed by sulfur, blue-winged olive and white mayfly (Ephoron leukon) variations. All of these caught trout; difficult wild trout in clear heavily fished streams like the Gunpowder and the Pennysylvania limestoners.

When I began fishing the Catskills in 1993, I tied versions to match the March Brown and the Green Drake. While I missed those hatches in the Catskills that season, I got to try both flies on Penns Creek. Both were effective when the trout would key on emerging nymphs and refuse to take the duns.

After amassing a track record of success on different rivers matching different hatches, I finally published this style of fly in the Mid-Atlantic Fly Fishing Guide. I hadn’t published any of my original fly patterns previously but I ended up being thankful that I did decide to write the article on the CDC emerger series. Later the same year Fly Fisherman magazine carried an article by Rene Harrop where he offered several of his original CDC patterns, among them a loop winged emerger very similar to my tie. Neither of us was aware of the other’s experiments, yet we came to similar conclusions. Mr. Harrop certainly needs no introduction.

So there were at least two of us who were convinced that this style of emerger was a great idea, though I don’t doubt that there are other tiers that have had kindred ideas and tied similar flies. Such is the nature of fly tying.

My CDC emergers can be fished effectively as tied in most situations. When you encounter a trout who still isn’t convinced, there is a little trick that can turn the tide in your favor. Pinch the CDC loop as tightly as you can with your thumb and forefinger, then submerge the fly and squeeze the body to thoroughly wet it. If you get any water in the loop wing, blow it out and cast. The fly will hang deeper with nothing but the loop wing caught in the film, and that trout will probably take it.

I have chosen the March Brown pattern to tie for this video, since that should be the next mayfly to appear this month. It is May after all, even though our ten day forecast shows our high temperatures won’t get out of the forties and fifties here in the Catskills.

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