Published Jul 16. 2011 - 6 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 16. 2016

The CDC & Elk family

Hans Weilenmann's CDC & Elk is a fly as good as they come. Still a lot of people - including Hans himself and the author - have made variations. This article covers a whole bunch of CDC & Elk variations.

CDC & Elk fish - My most recent CDC & Elk fish, caught on a Swedish lake during a heavy evening mayfly hatch.
My most recent CDC & Elk fish, caught on a Swedish lake during a heavy evening mayfly hatch.
Martin Joergensen

People who have fished with the Dutch fly tying wizard Hans Weilenmann will undoubtedly have met the CDC & Elk. This is Hans' signature fly and probably his all time favorite fly. It's also a fly, which a lot of anglers have learned to love, including myself.

My introduction to the fly

I was originally introduced the CDC & Elk dry fly by Hans himself. We had met a few times, and I had fished some of his flies and tied some of my own, and at one point he sent me a mail with a short write-up he had done on the history of the fly. This wound up as an article on my original web site Fishing Denmark, and has since moved with us on to the Global FlyFisher where you will still find it. It dates back to 1996, only a few years after Hans had tied the first versions of his now famous fly.

Advantages

I probably don't need to emphasize the advantages of this fly, but I will do so anyhow in a very short, annotated list:

  • few materials (three actually, thread, CDC feather, deer hair)
  • easy to tie (few tying steps and few turns of thread)
  • durable (fish can trash it, though!)
  • floats like a cork (both the materials are willing floaters, and floatant can add to that)
  • good imitation (mainly of caddis, but probably does look like a lot of other things to a fish)
CDC & Elk - The very original as tied by Hans Weilenmann himself
The original
Hans Weilenmann

In every way a true classic, and this article is my tribute to the fly and its originator.

The original

The CDC & Elk is Hans' signature fly, and is generally acknowledged as a modern classic in dry flies. It has probably been spread and used as much as any of the really popular dry fly patterns.
Hans has a large section on the fly on his own web site with the history, a tying sequence, a video and much more.

Improving the best

Of course there is always a reason to try to improve on the best, and many people have taken Hans' fly to - if not higher levels - then at least other levels. Well, Hans himself has actually made several variations of his own original fly, and I have included those too in the list below where I try to sum up the many variations in the CDC & Elk family.

Hans has a video showing how he ties the fly on his site, and we have added Hans Tying the fly himself as well as Tying the CDC & Elk from Tightlines to our video channel.

Flies in this article:

Minor variations

Color variations (Sasa Stosic)
CDC & Grizz (Hans Weilenmann)
CDC and Elk Pearl (Hans Weilenmann)
Green Butt CDC & Elk (Hans Weilenmann)
CDC and Elk Egg-Laying Caddis (Byron Haugh)
CDC & Elk a la Hans Weilenmann (Terje Refsahl)
CDC & Elk (variation) (Byron Haugh)

Really major variations!

CDC & Elk Streamer (Hans Weilenmann)
CDC & Elk Sculpin (Hans Weilenmann)
BOM "Big Ol' Mouthful" CDC & Elk (Roy Christie)
Bonefish CDC & Elk (Paul Slaney)
Seatrout CDC & Elk (Martin Joergensen)
Egg Sucking CDC & Elk (Martin Westbeek)
CDC & Elk Spey (Stu Farnham)

Major variations

Kicking CDC & Elk (Dave Wiltshire)
CDC & Elk Emerger (Hans Weilenmann)
Emerging CDC & Elk Caddis (Sasa Stosic)
CDC & Elk Spent (Hans Weilenmann)
CDC & Elk Spinner (Fran Friesen)
Reversed CDC & Elk (Morne Bayman)
Crippled CDC & Elk (Bruce Salzburg)
Diving CDC & Elk (Hans Weilenmann)
Teardrop Diving CDC & Elk (Charles "Chip" Drozenski)
Cranefly CDC & Elk (Phil Holding)
Pennsylvania Cricket (Richard Ross)
CDC No Elk (Bill Willmert)
Foamhead CDC & Elk (Martin Joergensen)
CDC & Elk Loop Wing (Sasa Stosic)


Color variations -
Colors
Sasa Stosic - Hatches Magazine


Color variations
Sasa Stosic

The first and most obvious way of changing the pattern is by using the same materials but different colors. You can both vary the color of the CDC and the elk hair, which are both available in a large number of colors - CDC probably being more widely available in many colors.
You can choose to vary within a natural spectrum, but with the many bright colors at your disposal nowadays, pink, red and blue variations should be within reach. Most color variations seem to be a little more subdued, though.
To the right you see four examples of such variations tied by Sasa Stosic and published in Hatches Magazine. Below you see a whole bunch of Sasa's color variations. You can see the materials by clicking on each picture.

You can find out more about Sasa Stosic on the web site Musicarenje.com that he cofounded and and get your hands on the many beautiful colors of CDC on the site Swiss CDC.

Blue dun


Chartreuse


Dark brown


Dark claret


Dark w/egg


Orange


Saffran


Yellow


Sasa Stosic

CDC & Elk Pearl -
CDC and Elk Pearl
Hans Weilenmann


CDC and Elk Pearl
Hans Weilenmann

The latest newcomer to the family added by Hans himself. Tied very much like the original but with a tag or abdomen made from flash wound directly on the hook, giving a translucent shine to the rear part of the fly.

CDC and Elk Pearl
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Hans Weilenmann
Materials: 
Hook
Grip 14723BL #14
Thread
Benecchi 12/0, tan
Abdomen
Flashabou strand, pearl - wrapped flat over bare shank
Thorax and strands
CDC feather (Type 1), natural
Wing and head
Mule deer
Difficulty: 
Easy


CDC & Grizz - Hans' own variation with bear hair wing
CDC & Grizz
Hans Weilenmann


CDC & Grizz
Hans Weilenmann

A variation, albeit one that breaks with the CDC & Elk concept by using bear hair in stead of elk for the wing, but then again leans so much up this fly that it can hardly be considered as anything else than a variation.

CDC & Grizz
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Hans Weilenmann
Materials: 
Hook
Tiemco 102Y #15
Thread
Benecchi 12/0, grey
Body/legs
CDC, natural dun (Type 1 feather)
Wing/head
Grizzly bear (or substitute)
Difficulty: 
Easy


Green Butt CDC & Elk - A dab of color. Hans' own variation
Green Butt CDC & Elk
Hans Weilenmann


Green Butt CDC & Elk
Hans Weilenmann

A variation with a small, green ball of rabbit dubbing to create a green butt on the fly imitating the often quite bright eggs that the females deposit. The wing is slightly sparser than on the original, but the fly is essentially tied the same way.

The fly can be seen on Hans' web site

Green Butt CDC & Elk
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Hans Weilenmann
Materials: 
Hook
Grip 14723BL (or TMC 206BL) #12-16
Thread
Tan 6/0
Butt
Rabbit, dyed green
Body/hackle
CDC feather (Type 1)
Wing/head
Fine tipped deer hair
Difficulty: 
Easy


CDC and Elk Egg-Laying Caddis  - Much alike Hans' own green butt variation
CDC and Elk Egg-Laying Caddis
Byron Haugh


CDC and Elk Egg-Laying Caddis
Byron Haugh

Byron Haugh remarks that many caddis hatches are actually egg laying female caddis diving for the surface, and has tied a fly especially for that. As he notes, many of the flies even dive to the bottom or at least into the water to release their bright egg sacks, and fish will key in on these egg-laying insects. You can read more on Byron's own web site and see many more of Byron's flies on Hans' site.


CDC & Elk a la Hans Weilenmann  - A Norwegian variation
CDC & Elk a la Hans Weilenmann
Terje Refsahl


CDC & Elk a la Hans Weilenmann
Terje Refsahl

Terje uses a dubbing mix with CDC-fibers mixed in, in stead of Hans' simple pure CDC-body. Apart from that the fly is very much "a la Hans Weilenmann".

You can see Terje's variation discussed here and see more of his flies on Hans Weilemann's site.

CDC & Elk a la Hans Weilenmann
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Terje Refsahl
Materials: 
Hook
TMC 2487 #12
Thread
Tan 6/0
Body
Polyamid and alpakka dubbing and long CDC fibres
Wing/head
Deer hair
Difficulty: 
Easy


CDC & Elk (variation) - Tied small and using a dubbing loop for the CDC fibers
CDC & Elk (variation)
Hans Weilenmann


CDC & Elk (variation)
Byron Haugh

A smaller version of the original tied using a dubbing loop for the CDC fibers, allowing you to minimize the bulk of the feather and use feather, which are not perfect for wrapping.
You can see more of Byron's flies on Hans Weilemann's site.

CDC & Elk (variation)
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Byron Haugh
Materials: 
Hook
Standard dry fly size 16-20
Thread
Light grey
Body
CDC as dubbing loop
Wing/head
Elk hair
Difficulty: 
Easy


Kicking CDC & Elk - Another kicker by Dave Wiltshire
Kicking CDC & Elk
Dave Wiltshire


Kicking CDC & Elk
Dave Wiltshire

Dave Wiltshire from Bristol in the UK has this interesting CDC & Elk variation on his home page. By adding rubber legs he gets a fly with a kicking motion, hence the name. He calls the pattern an addition to the 'experimental' fly box.

Kicking CDC & Elk
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Dave Wiltshire
Materials: 
Hook
Dry fly, down eye, size 12-16
Thread
12/0 Bennechi, yellow
Body
Natural CDC
Wing
Elk (Instead of Hans' prefered Deer Hair)
Legs
Speckled rubber
Difficulty: 
Easy

Kicking CDC & Elk - Kicking with rubber legs that is. An addition made by Dave Wiltshire
Kicking CDC & Elk
Dave Wiltshire

As Dave writes on his web site: "Not for the purists, perhaps. However, it'll be alot of fun trying them out". In an email he notes:

It was meant to be a terrestrial imitation really and something a little bit different - that would allow some movement.
I have used it and it has taken fish for me - it works well skated in the evenings too.

D.


CDC & Elk Emerger - Hans' own emerger variation
CDC & Elk Emerger
Hans Weilenmann


CDC & Elk Emerger
Hans Weilenmann

Well, it's an emerger version of the CDC & Elk and one of the variations, which closely resembles the original. It's tied with a smaller wing, a more upright profile and a very slim body.

CDC & Elk Emerger
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Hans Weilenmann
Materials: 
Hook
Grip 14723BL (or TMC 206BL) #12-16
Thread
Tan 6/0
Body/hackle
CDC feather (Type 1) - sparse
Wing/head
Fine tipped deer hair - tied short
Difficulty: 
Easy


Emerging CDC & Elk Caddis - A different take on an emerger
Emerging CDC & Elk Caddis
Sasa Stosic


Emerging CDC & Elk Caddis
Sasa Stosic

Sasa is a very active and innovative fly-tyer from Serbia and he came up with this emerger variation in 2013. The shuck and the bent hook makes it different than the original, but the basic pattern and tying method is the same.

Emerging CDC & Elk Caddis
Pattern type: 
Emerger
Originator: 
Sasa Stosic
Materials: 
Hook
Daiichi 1280 #12 (curved)
Thread
Light olive 8/0
Shuck
Z-lon
Body
Swiss CDC, dark olive
Wing
Elk, bleached
Difficulty: 
Easy


CDC & Elk Spent - A spent spinner variation as Hans ties it
CDC & Elk Spent
Hans Weilenmann


CDC & Elk Spent
Hans Weilenmann

The CDC & Elk as a spent spinner, tied with the deer hair reversed and split into the two spread out wings that characterize the spent spinners.

You can read more about this variation on Hans' site.

CDC & Elk Spent
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Hans Weilenmann
Materials: 
Hook
Tiemco 102Y #11 - #17 (or equivalent dry fly hook)
Thread
Tan 6/0
Body/hackle
CDC feather (Type 1)
Wing/head
Fine tipped deer hair, tied in reverse, then split
Difficulty: 
Easy


CDC & Elk Spinner - A spent spinner as Fran Friesen ties it
CDC & Elk Spinner
Hans Weilenmann


CDC & Elk Spinner
Fran Friesen

Like the CDC & Elk Spent this is another spent spinner variation with the typical flat, spread out wings. This fly is originated by Canadian Fran Friesen and is tied with the elk hair in the same direction as the original. The hair is then separated and spread out. Fran even added a tail and bit of flash as an eye catcher to the fly.

See more on Fran's fly on Hans' web page

CDC & Elk Spinner
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Fran Friesen
Materials: 
Hook
TMC 102Y # 13-17, or your choice of fine wire wide gape hook
Thread
Unithread 6/0 Tan
Tail
Two fibres pheasant tail
Body
Natural Type 1 CDC feather
Wings
Deer hair, 2 strands of Pearl Krystal Flash, spinner style
Head
Butts of the deer hair used in the wings
Difficulty: 
Easy


Crippled CDC & Elk - A variation by Bruce Salzburg
Crippled CDC & Elk
Peter Frailey


Crippled CDC & Elk
Bruce Salzburg

This is another CDC & Elk with a reversed wing - Quigley Cripple style - originated by Bruce Salzburg. The wing will stand upright in the water and the body will be under.

There's more about the fly on Peter Frailey's web site.

Crippled CDC & Elk
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Bruce Salzburg
Materials: 
Hook
Sizes 16-18, TMC 2487
Thread
Brown or gray, 6/0.
Body
One "Type 1" CDC feather, tip tied at the rear of the shank, twisted and palmered forward
Wing
Deer hair, tied-in reversed, Quigley Cripple style.
Difficulty: 
Easy

Crippled CDC & Elk - Hans' own take on the Crippled version
Crippled CDC & Elk
Hans Weilenmann

You can see more about this version on Hans' site.


Reversed CDC & Elk - Tied with the wing forward
Reversed CDC & Elk
Morne Bayman


Reversed CDC & Elk
Morne Bayman

Also tied with the wing reversed, like the Funnel Duns or Deveaux flies as it's seen in The Black Funnel here on GFF - and as seen on Salzburg's fly above. Coming from South Africa. The originator notes: This is a easy 2 minute fly that only uses two materials and works quite well.

The fly is covered on The African Fly Angler web site.

Reversed CDC & Elk
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Materials: 
Hook
#16 Dry
Thread
Tan 6/0
Body
CDC
Wing
Elk Hair
Difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 

Floating Reversed CDC & Elk - The reversed fly as it floats in the surface
In the surface
Morne Bayman

Morne writes:

I dont think that I can take credit for the fly. I am pretty sure that I have seen this pattern somewhere else before I tied it. It works pretty well in slow flowing pools in rivers and even on our local dam where I use it in a size 18 to 20 to imitate some of the small midges that hatch during warm mornings. I would often also hang a small nymph under it. As you know the CDC traps lots of bubbles while the CDC fibres gives the fly lots of movement. The Elk hair facing forward also gives the fly a great profile in the water by pushing the body down.

If I remember correctly I was was looking for a fly that imitates an emerging/hatching midge at the time after I saw this and the reversed CDC and elk seemed to do the trick.


Diving CDC & Elk - Hans' diving variation
Diving CDC & Elk
Hans Weilenmann


Diving CDC & Elk
Hans Weilenmann

Developed from an original idea by Mark McMillan from Colorado in the US who added a bead the the CDC & Elk, Hans took the idea a step further and created his own version of this fly. Some female caddises actually dive to the bottom to lay their eggs, and this fly does exactly that: dive. Hans has a detailed description and a step-by-step tying sequience on his web site. Hans has also made a video showing how to tie this fly.

Diving CDC & Elk
Pattern type: 
Wet fly
Originator: 
Hans Weilenmann
Materials: 
Hook
Mustad Signature C49S (or equivalent light wire scud hook) #8-#16
Bead
Tungsten, black
Thread
Uni-thread 6/0, brown
Abdomen
Natural dun CDC feather, tied in CDC&Elk style (Type 4)
Wing/head
Fine deer hair, tied short and sparse
Thorax
Argentinean hare, dark grey
Difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 



Teardrop Diving CDC & Elk - This is a variation of a variation by Charles "Chip" Drozenski
Teardrop Diving CDC & Elk
Hans Weilenmann

Teardrop Diving CDC & Elk
Charles "Chip" Drozenski

Another beaded diving version of the fly. This one uses a slightly larger number of materials than the average variation, but is still quite true to the original. Chip notes that the main difference to Hans' own Diving CDC & Elk is the inclusion of a teardrop shuck, but of course there is also a shiny bead (brass or copper) and the ostrich collar, which sets it apart from Hans' version of this fly.

Teardrop Diving CDC & Elk
Pattern type: 
Wet fly
Originator: 
Charles
Materials: 
Hook
Tiemco 2487 (or equivalent light wire scud hook) #12-16
Bead
Copper bead
Thread
Black 8/0
Abdomen
Natural (Type 1) CDC feather, wrapped CDC&Elk style
Shuck
Amber Z-lon, teardrop style
Wing
Fine tipped deer hair
Thorax
Black ostrich
Difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 


Cranefly CDC & Elk - The daddy longlegs of CDC & Elks
Cranefly CDC & Elk
Hans Weilenmann


Cranefly CDC & Elk
Phil Holding

Craneflies or Daddy Longlegs as the British call them are terrestrial insects, but much favored by anglers - and fish! Falling on any surface they are a tasty morsel to any hungry fish.
And it only takes a few legs - six to be precise - to turn a caddis into a cranefly.

Cranefly CDC & Elk
Pattern type: 
Terrestrial
Originator: 
Phil Holding
Materials: 
Hook
Partridge BIN (Barbless Ideal Nymph) #12 - or equivalent
Thread
Brown 6/0
Body/hackle
CDC feather (Type 1)
Legs
Six cock pheasant tail barbs, lightly knotted - 3 legs on either side
Wing/head
Fine tipped deer hair
Difficulty: 
Medium
Instruction: 


Pennsylvania Cricket - A terrestrial variation by Rick Ross
Pennsylvania Cricket
Hans Weilenmann

Pennsylvania Cricket
Richard Ross

Tied slightly larger and darker than the original, but in other ways identical, this fly will very well imitate a cricket, but most likely do well as an imitation of other terrestrials as well as larger and darker hatching insects - including caddises as the original.

Richard writes in a short note:

Not much to add about the cricket. I named it that just to tease Hans who was insisting that it was a CDC & Elk.
-Richard

More on Hans' own site.

Pennsylvania Cricket
Pattern type: 
Terrestrial
Originator: 
Richard Ross
Materials: 
Hook
Daiichi 1180 size 10 or 12
Thread
Uni 8/0, Black
Body
Natural CDC wound CDC & Elk style
Wing/head
Black deer hair
Difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 



CDC No Elk - CDC No Elk Flash (olive) tied by Bill Willmert
CDC No Elk
Hans Weilenmann


CDC No Elk
Bill Willmert

This is going the absolute opposite way of patterns on this page: simplifying to the extreme. The three material fly is here a two material fly: thread and CDC. The CDC & Nothing so to say or the CDC No Elk as Bill Wilmert has called it. The flies in the pictures have the word Flash attached to their names because they have a bit of flash incorporated under the front of the CDC feather.

See more of Bill Willmert's patterns on Hans' web site.

CDC No Elk
Pattern type: 
Emerger
Originator: 
Bill Wilmert
Materials: 
Hook
Mustad R70 Sizes 16 and 18
Thread
Uni-Thread, 8/0, usually black
Body/hackle
CDC feather type I or IV. Note type I make a more attractive fly. Type IV feathers certainly make fishable flies
Difficulty: 
Very easy

CDC No Elk - CDC No Elk Flash (gray) tied by Bill Wilmert
CDC No Elk
Hans Weilenmann


Foamhead CDC & Elk - Visible even for weak eyes
Foamhead CDC & Elk
Martin Joergensen


Foamhead CDC & Elk
Martin Joergensen

My own meager attempt to do this fly one better has been the Foamhead CDC & Elk. Here is the story of that fly:
I only rarely fish dry flies, and one of my problems is that I cannot see the fly on the water.
Dutch Bas Verschoor introduced me to Austrian Roman Moser's Baloonhead Caddis, which is essentially an Elk Hair Caddis with yellow foam for a head. This bright, visible, yellow fly suited me perfectly. It was sooo easy to see on the water thanks to the foam over the head. And the foam didn't seem to bother the fish.
I took this concept and transferred it to the CDC & Elk. It worked the first time I tried it and didn't make the fly much more difficult to tie. And I got my visible fly. I have used this fly many times since, and nowadays I usually tie a bunch of my CDC & Elk's with a bright, yellow foam head.
Of course I named it The Foamhead CDC & Elk.

Foamhead CDC & Elk
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Martin Joergensen (owing a lot to Hans Weilenmann)
Materials: 
Hook
Dry fly, down eye, size 12-16
Thread
Tan 8/8
Body
CDC-feather
Head
Yellow foam over elk hair butts
Wing
Fine elk hair
Difficulty: 
Easy


CDC&Elk Loopwing - A pattern by Sasa Stosic
CDC & Elk Loop WIng
Sasa Stosic


CDC & Elk Loop Wing
Sasa Stosic

Another variation by Sasa Stosic - this time with a loop wing under the elk hair wing.

CDC & Elk Loop Wing
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Sasa Stosic
Materials: 
Hook
TMC 102Y #15
Thread
r.brown 6/0
Body
Swiss CDC, Saffran yellow
Wings
Swiss CDC, blue dun & Elk
Head/wing
Elk
Difficulty: 
Easy


CDC & Elk Streamer or Wet - This is a streamer version on a long shank hook
CDC & Elk Streamer
Hans Weilenmann


CDC & Elk Streamer
Hans Weilenmann

This fly is also sometimes referred to as the CDC & Elk Wet. The wet is a more compact fly and the streamer more elongated. Streamer or Wet, both names describe quite well what it is: a sub surface version of the original. It's usually tied much larger than the dry fly. For a true streamer version, you can use a 3X long hook.

More about the fly on Hans' web site.

CDC & Elk Streamer/Wet
Pattern type: 
Wet fly
Originator: 
Hans Weilenmann
Materials: 
Hook
Heavy nymph hook 2XL #8-16 (or 3XL #2-10 for CDC&Elk Streamer)
Thread
Benecchi 12/0, tan
Body/hackle
CDC feather (Type 1) - sparse
Wing/head
Fine tipped deer hair - sparse
Difficulty: 
Easy


CDC & Elk Sculpin - A darker small fish imitation
CDC & Elk Sculpin
Hans Weilenmann


CDC & Elk Sculpin
Hans Weilenmann

Another streamer/wet fly variation of the fly, tied on a larger hook, although hardly as large as many would tie a sculpin imitation. The fly has a hair wing as well as a dubbed head, but still has the two main materials the CDC feather and the elk hair as some of its main components and uses them almost as on the original.

About the fly on Hans' own web page

CDC & Elk Sculpin
Pattern type: 
Wet fly
Originator: 
Hans Weilenmann
Materials: 
Hook
Partridge Barbless Ideal Nymph (BIN) #10
Thread
Benecchi 12/0, grey
Weight (optional)
Lead or other heavy wire, front half of hook
Body
CDC feather, natural - Type 1, CDC&Elk style
Wing
Pine squirrel 'zonker' strip, chestnut - short
Veiling
Deer hair - sparse
Collar
Deer hair butts - short
Head
Pine squirrel, chestnut
Difficulty: 
Easy


BOM CDC & Elk - BOM is for "Big Ol' Mouthful", a Roy Christie take on the fly
BOM
Hans Weilenmann


BOM "Big Ol' Mouthful" CDC & Elk
Roy Christie

Roy Christie's variation is indeed a big mouthful compared to the original. It's somewhat more complex, using more materials, but still carries the legacy and clearly shows the CDC & Elk traits.

BOM
Pattern type: 
Dry fly
Originator: 
Roy Christie
Materials: 
Hook
??
Tail
Two fibres pheasant tail
Butt
Tan dubbing
Body
Yellow CDC feather
Thorax
CDC feather, natural
Underwing
Moose hair
Wing/head
Deer hair
Difficulty: 
Medium

Roy writes in an email:

My BOM take on the CDC & Elk was as a result of making an impression of the E. Danica mayfly
I wanted an emerger so I installed tails of pheasant tail fibres on the bend of the hook to represent those.

The Danica in my river had a claret shuck which I represented wth pheasant tail fibres, seal's fur or hare's ear.
I see the essence of the CDC & Elk as smplistic but my additions were to mimic target points of the natural so I excuse myself those.

The body of my BOM sits through the surface and hangs on the front hackle of CDC wth the wing mimicking the wing of the natural.
You will see that the body is virtually bare of CDC filaments and that the front hackle should be dense and fluffy to get the correct set of the fly with adequate support.
Blue dun dyed deerhair is good for the wing, any dark deerhair will suffice.

I checked the design in a glass of water and worked out that in its mirror reflection the body reflected up below the wing and gave me a fair impression of the dun or spinner.
I then calculated that I could enhance this with the addition of long tails so that my emerger would take on some extra characteristics.
However I had already installed the tails of the nymphal shuck and if I had to add another set they might destroy the potential for hookups.
I then tried various designs that would allow the addition of tails, the latest and best being a half dozen moose mane hairs set below the wing.
In this position they mimic the tails of the natural quite well when viewed from below at virtually any angle as in the mirror reflection they appear to meld with those nymphal shuck tails.

This fly thus represents the nymph in eclosion, a crippled dun or spinner or an adult, depending on the angle it is viewed from.

It has given me a few good fish, tied in various shades of yellow through olive to white and grey.
It is difficult to measure how good it really is as the trout eat anything that looks remotely like Danica when they are well on the feed; in more difficult situations it has worked well to date.


Bonefish CDC & Elk - Paul Slaney's tropical variation
Bonefish CDC & Elk
Hans Weilenmann


Bonefish CDC & Elk
Paul Slaney

Paul Slaney's Bonefish CDC & Elk might sound like a surprising variation of a caddis fly, but it has proven itself to be quite effective. The combination of elk hair and CDC makes good sense in a bonefish fly since the materials make a fly that can land softly, ride hook point up and of course display the character of the CDC with its motility and air catching ability seems to be beneficial to almost any kind of fly.

Paul's variation in this picture has both long stalked monofilament eyes and some flash in the material's list while my own variation of the variation has bead chain eyes on top of the hook shank, but no flash and has been used for sea trout with success, and will easily do as a bonefish fly.too.

Bonefish CDC & Elk
Pattern type: 
Warm saltwater fly
Originator: 
Paul Slaney
Species: 
Materials: 
Hook
Sharp, strong, straight eye
Thread
Tan 6/0
Eyes
Bead chain, lead or tungsten dumbbells or nothing at all
Underwing
A bunch of CDC feathers, tied in at the eye, I don't bother to wrap the feather down the hookshank anymore. The flies last longer if you don't
Overwing
Elk, deer or whatever. I like it to flare a bit
Difficulty: 
Easy

Paul writes:

It's a testament to this little fly that it's been a regular in my box since the second trip I made and there has been a lot of water under the boat since then.

I stumbled across the CDC n'elk after an online chat with Hans many moons ago and after fishing with him a few times I became convinced of it's effectiveness as a general dry fly. Then, later on, I saw it fished as a streamer at Oostvornse Meer in Holland on a large longshank hook with equal success on those big bow's.

It's adaptation to the flats came after a session tying Bonefish Bitters, where frankly, it's a pain to mess about with epoxy. I hate the stuff. So my 'bitters' patterns quickly had the wing added minus the epoxy head. From there it was easy, swap the Z-lon for CDC and...

Tied on a size 8 hook, upsidedown with with small bead chain eyes and a couple of strands of crystalflash as a tail. They work very well tied with yellow CDC and Deer Hair the same colour as Hans' original. I've caught on them in the Bahamas and the Caymans.

The photo was taken a while ago, the mono eyes were an experiment that didn't work very well. These days I tie'em as described above.

Paul



Seatrout CDC & Elk - This one for sea run brown trout in Scandinavia. Inspired by Paul Slaney\'s Bonefish CDC&Elk
For sea trout
Martin Joergensen

Seatrout CDC & Elk (Bonefish CDC & Elk for sea trout)
Martin Joergensen

This is my own version of the fly that Paul originated, which was actually tied just based on hearing of Paul's fly and never having seen one. As a result the fly is actually closer to Hans' dry than to Paul's current saltwater fly. I cover the hook shank with a large CDC feather and tie the fly like the dry, just upside down. This fly has worked very well for sea trout, and will most likely do well for bones too.

Sea Trout CDC&Elk
Pattern type: 
Cold saltwater fly
Originator: 
Martin Joergensen, variation of the Paul Slaney pattern
A great variation of a dry fly - first transformed into a bonefish fly by Paul Slaney and then into a sea trout fly by Martin Joergensen. This variation can be used for bonefish too.
Materials: 
Hook
Stainless or salt resistant, down eye, #4-6. I use a Kamasan B175
Thread
Tan 6/0
Body
Large, natural CDC feather
Eyes
Bead chain or dumbbell
Head/wing
Natural deer hair
Difficulty: 
Easy
Instruction: 
  1. Tie in the thread at the back of the hook shank
  2. Select a large CDC feather and pull the fibres parallell
  3. Tie in the CDC feather tip first catching the fibres just in front of the hook bend
  4. Wind the thread forwards to a spot an eye width or two behind the hook eye
  5. Follow with the CDC feather. the first part will be quite smooth, but moving forwards more and more fibres will stick out and create a furry body
  6. Tie down the CDC feather and trim surplus
  7. Tie in eyes on top of the hook shank between the body and the hook eye
  8. Stack a small bunch of deer hair and trim butt ends
  9. Spin a head and wing on the underside of the hook shank.
  10. Tips should reach the hook point and the head formed should just barely cover the hook eye
  11. Whip finish, cut thread and varnish the base of eyes and the deer hair

Seatrout CDC & Elk - The fly fishes upside down
Upside down
Martin Joergensen

The Eggsucking CDC & Elk - Martin Westbeek's CDC & Elk for fun
Eggsucking CDC & Elk
Hans Weilenmann


Egg Sucking CDC&Elk
Martin Westbeek

This is indeed an exotic variation of a dry fly, and the originator, Martin Westbeek explains how it came about, more as a joke than as a "real" fly.

Martin wrote me an email about the fly years ago:

Yes, I'm guilty. I tied that fly.
I thought it up and tied it at the occasion of a fly swap (my CDC fly swap a few years ago). The idea was to get the participants to send in their flies in time, so I promised two prizes: the Early Bird award (a BWO and a Minky Muddler -- you may recognize the latter one from the Fly Meister competition) and the Straggler award for the tier who would be the last to send his flies in. The Early Bird award had to be nice flies, but for the Straggler award I needed a particularly offensive looking fly, and I came up with this one.
It's a TMC 5262 #12, tan thread, natural grey CDC, and a wing of bleached early season Elk. The egg is hot melt glue painted orange with glass paint.
So the fly started out as a joke, actually. If you'd like to use it you're welcome to do so of course, along with my name -- if it appears to be a killer fly I'd like to get some credits ;-)
Best regards,
Martin

You can see this fly and more on Martin's own site.



CDC&Elk Spey
(Stu Farnham)

I couldn't find any references to this rumored fly by Stu, and there was a good reason. It didn't exist! I wrote Stu and he replied:

Stu:
Hmmm, I don't know where that rumor got started, I've not even thought about a CDC&Elk spey... but now you have me thinking!

I wrote:
Well, if you decide on giving it a try, let me know. I'd be happy to publish it as a sideline to the CDC&Elk story. I will probably mention the story anyway.

Stu replied:
OK, Martin... that'll be a challenge!

This was back in 2004, and as a PS: It was Hans himself that started the rumor.


Commercial

A lot of shops and commercial tyers have of course taken up Hans' pattern and different adaptations of it. It's is widely used and considered as one of the best all-round dry fly patterns, so it's natural that we see it in the market.
In the commercial market, there's also a large number of derivatives, not as much in the name of inovation as in the name of confusion. Most of these flies seem to be bad adaptations of the original rather than variations as such, and only few have the proper name or quote Hans as the originator.
You can still buy the fly in a version that is pretty close to Hans' own.
Cudafly in the UK has one, and so do other shops.

Some shops have flies, which vary the pattern in different ways. Troutlure's hallmark flies are "inline" flies, meant to fish the New Zealand way, where the dry fly acts as an indicator, but their flies have an eye for attaching the nymph rather than tying it to the hook bend of the dry.
The pattern from Orvis, which is exactly like the original, has been named differently, and is now the Low Rider CDC & Elk Caddis.

Orvis shop


Cudafly shop


Troutlure shop


Martin Joergensen

Past and future

The research for this article was started many years ago. The oldest notes and mails I have are from 2004, and since then a number of new variations have seen the light of day. With the popularity of the original as well as some of the existing variations, there's bound to come new variations, and variations of those. That's the fate of all good fly patterns -- they become a family of fly patterns rather than one single pattern.

If you yourself have a CDC & Elk variation, feel free to drop me a note and a picture, and I'll be happy to include it in the article. I can be reached on martin@globalflyfisher.com.

Where it belongs - In the water, in the mouth of a fish!
Where it belongs!
Hans Weilenmann

Comments

Martin Great article...

Martin Great article !

thank you

The best dry fly for...

The best dry fly for me!
I tie it with red but, cinnamon brown body, 2-3 wraps of Whiting hen and natural elk wing.

Hello Martin, That ...

Hello Martin,
That was a well researched and finely done article! I am especially heartened to see little use of hackle as in the usual Al Troth Elk Hair Caddis. Now, let me present my favorite hands down caddis imitation. I use it mostly in std. size 16-20. Body of natural hares mask/ear blended with like color of Lafontaine style of sparkle yarn for luster and for the way it helps grab the thread while dubbing. Wing of elk, deer, or antelope. 8/0 uni thread to match dubbing, camel or tan most often. Simple and effective and very durable. It can be sunk as well or stripped in but I usually fish it dead drift. Now then however, your experience will have me experimenting with CDC to see if it helps in the waters I fish.
Thanks, Gregg

Amazing article Mart...

Amazing article Martin.

You just can't go wrong with this pattern.

Martin Joergensen's picture

Jan, The Seatrout...

Jan,

The Seatrout CDC & Elk as it should rightfully be called (I actually added this name since my fly only remotely looks like Paul Slaney's Bonefish fly), is a generally useful seatrout fly that is well suited for shallow, clear and calm water. It lands gently and sinks slowly, but doesn't have much flash or color. It fishes upside down and can be fished on the bottom without too many snags, but I rarely do that.

Martin

Hi Martin, thanks...

Hi Martin,

thanks for that gorgeous summary. I got many good ideas whilst reading. When do you use your seatrout-version?

Jan


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