Pattern: Hans Weilenmann, Fly and photograph: Hans Weilenmann

Hook: Tiemco 102Y #11 - #17 (or equivalent dry fly hook)
Thread: Brown 6/0
Body/hackle: CDC feather (Type 1) (Description of the different Types of CDC feathers)
Wing/head: Fine tipped deer hair

(The materials are listed in the order they are tied in)

Step by step instructions for tying the CDC&Elk

Video clip tying the CDC&Elk (4.54 min. play time, 12MB, Windows Media Player)

Every fly fisherman has to believe in something. For me enticing fish to take a fly hinges on the concept of “triggers.” Offer a fish the appropriate positive triggers and it is more likely to think “food!”

Based on this philosophy, I designed the CDC & Elk, which has become my staple dry fly, in 1992. In this pattern, I combine the proven wing silhouette and buoyancy of Al Troth’s Elk Hair Caddis and the dubbed body look and straggling filaments, which suggest a multitude of components from sprawling insect legs, trailing nymphal shuck, crippled wings, etc. achieved by wrapping a Type 1 CDC feather around the hook shank.

Over the past decade, the CDC & Elk has taken fish consistently across a multitude of waters and several continents. It is a pattern deceptive in its simplicity and versatility. From its beginning as a modified Elk-hair Caddis it slipped into the slot as the go-to fly for a multitude of mayfly hatches, a general search pattern to cover hatchless periods, an emerger pattern, and a wet fly.

To this day I find new applications for fishing it and new conditions where it delivers. The CDC&Elk has become a firm favorite with many other anglers across several continents.

Just some of many fond memories fishing the pattern:

During the summer of 1994 I spent six weeks fishing various parts of Washington, Montana and Idaho. All in all I fished 19 rivers. On seventeen of them the CDC&Elk was the pattern of choice, by far outfishing the other flies I tried. It is my top surface pattern. And not just for use as a caddis imitation.

Summer 2000: Now back from three weeks fishing Utah, Idaho and Montana streams and rivers. Fished the CDC&Elk almost exclusively on fourteen streams/rivers this trip. In spite of the very hot weather, the wildfires, often low water conditions and the absence of any real hatch activity I had some excellent fishing! Landed hundreds of trout and a couple of whitefish. All but five fish were taken on the CDC&Elk. Call me a very happy lad! ;-)

Summer 2001: Can now report that the westslope cutthroat in British Columbia and the brookies in Alberta have also added this pattern to their list of favorite food items...

The inspiration for the CDC&Elk has been Al Troth's classic Elk Hair Caddis. EHC is a great fly, but I like to think the CDC&Elk improves on this great pattern. It is, if possible, better floating. It is surprisingly durable. The illusion of movement/life is provided by the straggling CDC barbs which suggest any or all of the following: straggling legs, antenna, trailing shuck, crippled wings, etc. It is tied with easily obtainable materials and fast/simple to tie. Why don't you give it a try!

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© 2002 Hans Weilenmann
Please don't copy/distribute the contents of this page without my explicit permission.