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Gerhard Laible - A CDC Revolution

The Cul de Canard is a fantastic feather indeed! You can do whatever you want with it.

The Cul de Canard is a fantastic feather indeed! You can do whatever you want with it.
When I use it, sometimes, I think of those characters who made it famous… with one name standing above all, Marc Petitjean, how many hours they have spent looking for innovative tying methods and new dressings, sleepless nights at the vise, with swollen eyes and aching backbone, in an endless search of increasingly effective flies which can be easy to tie at the same time.

In the history of the Cul de Canard (named in such way by Henri Bresson for the first time), there have been some fundamental characters who have contributed to the diffusion of this fantastic feather. In addition to those already mentioned, if we go back in time, we find Bickel and Joset, followed by Veya and Pequegnot later on, and then Fratnik, Pfandl and Laible.

In particular Gerhard Laible, a German fly tier perhaps little known in Italy, stands out for having had a brilliant intuition and found a new tying method, revolutionizing the use of the CDC and paving the way for uses that were unthinkable until then.

Laible, starting from the second half of the 80s, probably also spending many nights at the vise, developed this innovative tying system, which consists in using only the barbs of the feather, eliminating the rachis.

Until then the Cul de Canard feather was mainly used in two ways:

- Wrapping the rachis on the shank of the hook as was done for rooster hackles or soft hackles.
- Tufts of barbs that were fixed on the stem, to imitate the wings of insects, or to be used as a floating part of the lure.

A “Mouche Sèche” by Charles Bickel and the F-Fly by Marjan Fratnik

Laible, discovers that by creating a loop with the thread and trapping the barbs, which he had previously separated from the rachis with the help of a clip, a sort of "new feather" is created, with the thread instead of the rachis, ready to be wrapped around the hook.

This system paves the way for new uses of the CDC, hitherto precluded, the possibilities are countless, palms, chests, parachutes, etc.

 A CDC Parachute Fly tied using Gerhard Laible's loop system

Above all, it becomes much easier to use the CDC in "traditional" tying systems, even on small hooks. This is due to the fact that the rachis is eliminated and there is therefore a considerable saving in weight and volume, with a consequent enormous gain in buoyancy.

The method developed by Laible also solves another problem, namely the one linked to the availability of long and very dense feathers, which are now unobtainable, but which are essential for certain types of tying.

The loop fly tying method with CDC gives the possibility of stacking several feathers that are not very dense in fibers count, thus multiplying the quantity of barbs. The loop thus obtained is practically the same as a long and very thick feather.

Between the 80s and 90s Laible published more than 20 articles with the title "Vom cul de canard", on the most important German fly fishing magazine: "Der Fliegenfischer". In these articles and in his book "CDC Flies", he pours all his work and his study on the use of the Cul de Canard, an immense and fundamental work, the result of a passion and a commitment that continues today with the its presence in the most important European exhibitions and events.

Gerhard Laible with Gérard Piquard and Marc Petitjean at the 2012 EWF (source: Gérard Piquard) as judge for the 2016 Open German Fly-Tying Championship (source: – ph. by Rudy van Duijnhoven)

If you enjoyned this article, take a look at this video on our YouTube channel, a beautiful Palmer Worm Fly tied in the Laible Style.