Fly of the Month – CDC and Elk

Pattern, Notes and Photograph by Hans Weilenmann
Used by permission


Hook: Tiemco 102Y #11 – #17 (or equivalent dry fly hook)

Thread: Brown 6/0

Body/hackle: CDC feather

Wing/head: Fine tipped deer hair

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  CDC feather around the hook shank. See detailed instructions at

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. Fish it as an emerger in the film. Or as a straight wet. It has proven to cover the full spectrum of dry, ‘damp’ and wet.

More flies by Hans are at

(June-July 2012 newsletter)

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