This tip is really a very simple idea. I cannot remember where or when I originally saw this. It was most likely on YouTube; but, I’m not 100% sure. It could have been at a fly fishing show several years ago. 

I really like to use CDC (cul de canard) feathers on my nymph patterns. These feathers give flies so much action. I believe the magic is in how they trap air bubbles, creating movement, and increasing the odds of eliciting a strike. 

There are many commercial tools which aid in doubling the fibers of a CDC feather in order to make a dubbing loop. All these tools are costly. It is very easy to spend a $100 or more on these tools. Well, with a 3/4 x 1 1/2 x 1/4 inch strip of craft foam you can make your own tool for about 5 cents. That’s more money to buy feathers!

Let’s get started. Some assumptions on my part:

We are using CDC feathers and not puffs.

Everyone knows what is a dubbing loop.

We will not be showing step by step instructions for tying a fly.

Step One 

Using a razor blade cut a slot down the center of a craft foam strip (long axis) 3/4” x 1 1/2” x 1/4”. DO NOT cut through the foam. The depth of the cut needs to be about 75% of the thickness of the foam. That’s all there is to it. You are now ready to create some CDC loops!

Note: the length of the foam can vary. Use a length that is consistent with the length of your CDC feathers. (I have several tables ranging in size from 3/4 to 2 inches in length.)

Step Two 

Prepare the CDC feather by stripping away the fibers at the base of your feather. Splay the fibers so they are 90 degrees to the stem of the feather.

CDC prep

 Step Three

By pinching together the outside of the long edges of the foam block, you will open up a slot. Place your CDC feather with the stem in the slot you opened. Keep pinching the foam until you are happy with the CDC placement.

If you look at one end of the foam block, you sh ould see something similar to this.

Step Four 

Release the edges. When you stop pinching the foam, the foam relaxes, closing on the feather. You are now ready to use the clip of you choice to catch the fibers. Once this is completed, slightly pinch the foam and the CDC feather is released from the foam. Now just trim the stem and make your dubbing loop.


CDC ready for clip

Completed Para Emerger size 16 


Made using the CDC feather table.

That’s it! Simple tips are often the best.