On the Global Fly Fishing forum this question was raised on Sep 26, 2010:
I was salmon fishing last week in New Brunswick on the Mirimichi river ( no luck unfortunately) and I was talking to a older gentleman who was saying that when the fishing used to be this light he always, as a last resort threw a fly he called "The Cardinal". Lost a few years ago to a salmon. It was given to him and all he remembers about it was that it was red with yellow in it. I have been trying to find info on it but can't. Does anyone know of a salmon fly called "The Cardinal"
The Cardinal implies that we're talking a red pattern. Everything that has to do with cardinals (clergymen, sports teams, birds) is red, and might the fly not be red also?
I dug into my books and looked for the Cardinal, and found a reference for it in Terry Hellekson's impressing Fish Flies. This encyclopedia refers you to the pattern Scarlet Ibis, which is tied like this:
Tail: red hackle fibers
Rib: embossed gold tinsel
Body: red wool
Hackle: red tied as a throat hackle
Wing: red bucktail
The fly was originally a classical wet fly tied with Ibis feathers and had a feather wing. If you search the web for "scarlet ibis fly pattern" you will find several references.
Here's a link to the Orange Ibis, which is a lot like the Scarlet Ibis with a feather wing: http://donbastianwetflies.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/42/>
Here's a link to the fly named the Cardinal, still with a feather wing:
Lochs and Loch Fishing, Hamish Stuart, M.A. LL.B. London: Chapman & Hall, Limited. Scarborough: “The Angler” Office, St. Nicholas Street. 1899, p. 213, under '“Subaqueous" flies' lists:
8.The Cardinal. Tail, red ibis ; body, red ibis, ribbed with silver or gold ; wings, red ibis ; hackle, furnace.