Next up in our smallmouth yellowfish flies series is the famous shuttlecock.
Shuttlecocks are a simple dry fly pattern which are very popular in the UK and Europe. The magic of shuttlecocks is the way they sit in the water and not on the water. All of the flotation is provided by the cdc wing which is angled over the eye of the fly. This causes the body of the fly to sit below the water while only the cdc floats on top of it. The above and below characteristic makes the shuttlecock a perfect pattern to fish in flatter water when fish are sipping emerging or crippled insects. While the pattern was initially intended as a mayfly imitation, it is also very successful during midge and caddis hatches and you can adjust the body materials to whatever colour scheme you want.
Bokong River regular and fly tying experet Gordon van der Spuy shares some very important info when tying this pattern below:
“…One is always better off getting the best quality materials for the job at hand. CDC is no exception, but very often one is limited in terms of the quality available. The solution is to improvise. You can still use lesser quality CDC and make it work out. CDC’s magic lies in the fibre structure. It’s all got to do with design. If there are not enough fibres and barbules per feather one needs to stack feathers on top of each other to compensate for this. CDC patterns need to have that fluffy look to them. The structure is not only important in terms of how the patterns work on the water but also in terms of how they present. That’s where CDC dries have a major advantage over more conventional styled dry flies; they simply present more gently. Tom nailed it on the head when he said that they present as soft as an angels kiss. Fishing laminar water that’s a major advantage.
I am a huge fan of shuttlecock style flies. I have major faith in them and have as a result managed to tempt some really fussy fish over the years using them. What I like is their simplicity. Most cool things in life are simple and shuttlecocks are no exception.
The main issue with tying shuttlecocks, however, is getting the right feathers for the job. You need smaller feathers, with long fibres and super thin feather stems. These are probably the most difficult CDC feathers to find. Most of the stuff available commercially has thick stems, the stuff one gets from the French grand canards. You’ll get very few feathers of the thinner stem variety . Sometimes you get them, but then the fibre length, quantity and barb count is lacking.
The early Swiss CDC used by guys like Joset were ideal. They used the feathers like hackles as well because the thinner stems accommodate this. Nowadays we’re very often not so lucky…”
If you would like to find out more about this pattern, or would like to fish at the Makhangoa Community Camp, please click here to get in touch.