Understanding and Working With Coq De Leon
By Mike Hogue
I subscribe to the UK publication Fly Fishing and Fly Tying. In the April 2002 issue, they ran a story about Coq De Leon fibers. This article contains a load of useful information and patterns using this unique material. Since this is a rather new material for most Americans, I thought would discuss some of the uses of this material and the differences.
Coq De Leon feathers are from a specific region in Spain. Originally these birds were from a monastery and they were intially raised in or about 1620. The coq de leon fibers are stiff, glassy and have long straight fibers. The colors of the birds may be divided into browns ( or pardos) and also grays ( indios). Further subdivision of colors includes 5 colors of brown and 5 grays. All other colors are variations of this main colors.
Originally, the birds were from then Leon area and the main colors were pardos and the indios were later additions which came from the surrounding highland area. Coq De Leon feathers are spade hackles and from the shoulder of the bird. Generally, the bird is mature and feathers are hand plucked, sorted and graded. Originally the feathers were never sold as a pelt because it was felt that as the bird aged, the fibers became stiffer and more brillant in color.
Early flies made from these materials were made with or without tails, had a rib of thread, silk body and hackles tied in a variety of colors. Hackles which were wrapped around the hook were often used as dapping flies, in which the fly was bobbed across the surface with a long rod and a silk or gut leader. Some the flies resembled some flies like the current soft hackles: Partridge and Orange or Grouse and Green wet patterns.
The translucence of the material today makes the fibers useful for several applications: as a tail, for wings and as a compara dun style fly. The fibers from the hen necks are interesting in that they are speckled, have a very webby center but have a stiff straight tip. Saddles have lots of useful materials and make interesting wings on saltwater or New England streamer flies. Try using these fibers as a trude wing on a coachmen, as a compara dun or wrap neck hackles for Catskill style skaters.
Cdl can be used for caddis wings and tied in a trude style. Bundles of fibers are grouped and tied with a down wing. A fore hackle of standard fibers is wrapped and the fly more less looks like a a a partridge wing type caddis. You may also loop the fibers for emergers or use the fibers as a wooduck type feather for horns on a caddis emerger. The Royal Cdl is a fly which has a Royal Coachman body and the Cdl as a down trude wing / deer hair sub.
I also like using the speckled hen necks. Some of them have a dark olive / dark dun mottling which I use as a Partridge sub. I caught brook trout on a Cdl hen soft hackle in PA and the Catskills last season with a bright orange body, red wire and peacock herl body. Brookies loved the orange color and the action of the fly was very good.
For more info check out these resoures:
This web site has a good many Cdl patterns.
Also look at the April 2002 issue of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying.
Darrell Martin's " Fly Tying Methods" contains an excellent section on Cdl and uses of this material.
Saddles: Whiting Bronze: These saddles contain all sorts of interesting hackle. The fibers are very long and stiff, while each feather is some what short. Each feather will make tails for at least 3-4 flies!. Feathers are speckled with dark centers.Very Beautiful!: $10.00.......Outstanding Value for a full saddle! Colors: Lt Pardo, Med Pardo. Silver Badger, Dun or Ginger.
Whiting Tailing Packs: These are Coq- De-Leon packs of tailing material. Useful for spinner wings, compara duns, tails or use a skater. Check out the latest in the UK mag Fly Fishing and Fly Tying for more patterns. Choose from Natural Brown, Dun, Lt Pardo, Medium Pardo, Dark Pardo, Black, Ginger. WAS $9.00, NOW $7.50 a pack
Whiting Hen Cdl: I have some Bronze grade hen necks for $12.00. Colors are light or med pardo, each more or less looks like partridge or speckled hen backs.
Hand Selected Genuine Spainish Cdl: For the first time I am able to offer these imported Coq-de-Leon hackles. Each hackle is hand selected for prefect coloration. Great for spinners, tails or awesome compara duns!. Colors: Claro, Medio, Oscuro: Each $6.00/ pack
Whiting Silver Grade /14 Saddle Patch: These are sized 14 and less, most tie size 14-16. These are normally $21.50, NOW $ $15.50 until gone!
Plain Grizzly Capon/Saltwater necks. Awesome for decievers, streamers. Use smaller neck feathers for wings on dries, nice round tips. Great price: $10 each. 2 for $18.00
Metz Grade 3 Brown Dry Necks: Nice for coachmen, caddis or parahackle ties to 18 or 22. Great bargin: $17.50 was $29.50
Lost my source: Lefty's Deciever Hackle. I have only 2 colors left: Orange and yellow. Was $5.50 now $3.50 each.
Autumn Lamb: Great sub for arctic fox, useful for making sheep shad type flies. Nice texture about 1- 1/2" inches in length. Colors: Black, white, gray, olive, orange, pink, yellow, blue. Was $2.50, NOW $1.50
Edgin Hackle Plier: The Edgin Hackle plier has a unique design. To use simply slid the hackle up the upper brass stem and slip into the clip on the head. Turn the tool sideways and wrap. Easy to use and works great. Hand made in the USA. I located a good supply of these and when gone that's it! These were originally over $12.50, NOW $9.50!
Coyote Zonker Strips: Longer zonker hair, useful for pike, bass or other strip flies. Colors: Black, Red, Yellow, Olive, Natural. Was $3.50, NOW $1.75
Not much new stuff out yet. Fall supplier's catalogs will be out shortly. Not many price increases, hook prices should hold steady, although Regal will go up 20% this season.
Summerfest: Annual Angler's Summerfest: Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum: CFFCM, Old Rt.17, Livingston Manor, NY, Saturday August 31, 2002. Outdoor angler's flea market and summer show. Loads of fun! Pick lots of bargins on books, old rods and materials. I will have a booth at this one day show. Come on out for some bargin hunting.
Fishing Report: It has been very dry here, little rain. Some folks have been heading to the larger lakes for fishing. Try Miliken Station early, the intlet off 13 on Cayuga Lake for smallies. Seneca Lake is good too in the state park. Some folks are catching perch and pickerel. Try woolies, dobson fly patterns, Chartreuse Clousers even some poppers and hoppers. Hope for a rain so we can head back to the streams. I have done well for smallies with some Whitlock blockhead hoppers. If you are bored try a 3 or 4 weight to improve fun and the action.
As usual if you want to be deleted from this list for any reason, let me know. Hope you enjoyed this! Contact: Mike Hogue, Badger Creek Fly Tying, 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068. 607-347-4946. Email: Mike@eflytyer.com, Web Site: www.eflytyer.com