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Here's something I've been meaning to do for while...

Paul, I was given a mallard and want to find the CDC feathers on it. Can you help me locate them? I looked between the white stiff top tail feathers that stick out the furthest and the black feathers below. But could not see any small feathers. I am not sure what I am looking for except that I see CDC "puffs" and other CDC feathers for sale. How big are they. Does anyone have a picture of where they are located and how many there are? I would appreciate any help.
Thank you, Bob K

Hi Bob, sorry for the delay; I hope you still have the bird and haven't eaten it. There was a thread on the Board if I remember correctly. There are not very many true CDC feathers on a duck (about 12 I think) but most of the other feathers should be waterproof. Flytying-god Ben, should be able to point you in the right direction, so I'll copy him in.
Cheers, Paul

Hi Bob, The thread paul is referring to can be found below. The link in one of viking Lars posts will take you to an article with a picture of where the CDC feathers are located and a little information on harvesting. Incidentally this article suggests that a mature bird will produce 70 to 100 usable feathers. Personally i don't feel this to tell the whole story. Most of these feathers look similar, however, it is the few 12 - 15 that directly surround the preen gland that have the greatest properties (with regard to buoyancy). Much of the commercially available CDC consists of the lesser feathers, but it doesn't really matter because it's nigh impossible to tell the difference anyway, hell if they're just as good then who cares?
Hope this helps, Ben

Savage: greets all. i have wild duck hanging on my balcony. any ideas as to how to use it? besides culinary uses. what feathers to keep, what i can get rid of without denting my conscience and so on. i even thought of skinning the bugger, but i dont know if thats feasible.

Savage: ok. so i've plucked the duck, taking extreme care with the tail end, plucking feather for feather. what qualifies as a CDC feather? there were several feathers that looked like the stuff sold as CDC in shops. then several feathers looking like the stuff 'CDC fluff' that is sold in shops. then there was this totally fine and to my eyes useless fluffy rubbish. and finally this tiny little bunch of really greasy feathers.

Viking Lars: I beleive I read or heard somewhere that there are only 10-15 *real* CDC feathers on a duck.....

JanMan: The CDC feathers are located on top of the tail, around the gland that excretes the oily stuff the duck distrubutes to all its feathers. You should be able to see the gland after you pluck it.

Savage: hmmm, according to what Lars says, then most of the stuff sold in shops aren't real CDC feathers. there was a tiny clump of maybe the given fifteen feathers that were oil drenched, they were located at a sorta opening into the gland. the other feathers don't secrete oil and are quite dry. a colleague of mine's family breed ducks, and he brought me a couple of feathers that were oil drenched, staining newspaper. and these proved far more superior in water proofing than anything i've bought commercially. but really, there are only some maybe 10-15 of them on a duck, and they are quite short actually.

Viking Lars: Yeah, I believe the ones you are talking about are referred to as 'oiler-puffs'.... The rest are fine feathers as well. It's not only the oil-content in the feather that helps it float - it's equally much the structure of the feather. Hey..... If the feather looks alright it *is* alright - don't bother with the "what's-the-real-deal-stuff"..... There are better quality feathers than others of course, but I always look for feather structure rather than oilcontent. Get the feathers that are symmetrical (long and short), and have a dense webbing - that the most important part.

Savage: thanks Lars, i quite agree, if it looks good and does the job, then its the way to go.

Paul Arden: don't know if you have read them yet, but there's some excellent advice in Mike's articles. Road Kills is a particularly relevant one.

Viking Lars: I just fell over this article by Hans Weilenmann..... Hans is from Holland and I've had the pleasure of seeing him tie and I even own some original flies tued by Hans. He's a great flytyer and an authority on CDC..... The article is here and there's even a chapter on harvesting CDC. Enjoy and make sure to check the video-segment of Hans tying his CDC & Elk. I've fished this fly a lot and it is a real killer.....

Henning Lund: The CDC&Elk...YESSS!! :-)

Ian Walker: Does anyone have information about which species of duck has the best CDC feathers? (Teal, Mallard, Moorhen, etc...)

Ben Spinks: In general mallard is considered to be the bird of choice, although what difference this has compared to other members of the duck family I donít know. Most just categorise CDC as being a duck feather.

WF5F: Hi Team. I haven't evolved into the use or tying of dryflies, so I can only contribute this:

Removed the breast from the duck and discard the rest. Cut the breast into finger sized strips and pound half a dozen times each with a steak tenderizer, flat but not lace is the look we are going for. Heat your wok, add sesame oil, juggle the temperature so the oil smokes but not quite burns. Add the duck and swish about the wok to seal the meat. One minute later add half a cup of blackbean sauce, a small slosh of cooking sherry and one small chopped chilli, reduce the heat slightly. 3 minutes later remove from the wok and set aside. Add to the wok coursely chopped hard vegetables and more oil, turn the heat back up and stir every 15 seconds. 3 minutes later pour the duck back in and mix together with a a little more bean sauce. Serve over fragrant rice or noodles with ice cold lager on the side.

Roy: That was an excellent contribution.. must try the recipe. I met Jens again at the Fly Fair who reckons there is absolutely no CDC to beat PENGUIN, he did suggest it may be hard to get. ;-) Apparently the feathers are so oily that you can wring them out. When washed they are huge and the very best. What's more the whole bird is covered with them. I'm keeping an eye out for potential roadkill!

JanMan: Helped a guy dry a penguin skin last year. The trick is to have a friend who is a zoo keeper :-)

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