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The Art of Marc Petitjean

The Cul de Canard was first introduced to the French in 1975 by Dr Jean Paul Pequegnot in his privately published, limited edition book, entitled Repertoire des Mouches Arti ficielles Fran~aises. I have No 272.

It contains flies with names that would have Halford nymphing in his grave. Buxom Gal, Ugly One and Duck Ass the Cul de Canard.

Dressing flies using duck’s « ass » feathers is a concept that has a long beard in France. Professional fly fishermen up until 1961 (when the sale of wild salmonids was prohibited) used the Cul de Canard. These trout slayers lived by their fly rods and the Cul de Canard incorporating the uropygial or « preen » gland, found at the base of the tail feathers, that secretes an oily fluid that the duck uses to « geek » its feathers was a fly that fed families.

For years now, Marc Petitjean has been turning the duck’s ass head over heels. The result: some truly creative uses of these feathers in the construction of midge pupa, mayfly nymphs, shrimps, spinners and my favourite, a hunch backed hawthorn that all but flies off the hook.

I was once a proud owner of a set of his original up wing flies in a presentation case, his name engraved on the lid. I never wasted them on trout, much preferring to use them to make people gloat. Dick Talleur once stayed with me and I pulled out the box, flicked back the lid and presented him with …a row of bare hooks. A moth had dined out royally.

The design of the flies on sale at present and their indisputable effectiveness get my highest score. Durability is middle ranking on account of the flimsiness of the feather, but with the memory of those noble flies I once flashed around in my mind, it seems Petitjean’s art has gone mainstream.