Pearsall’s problems ?

not all bobbins are created equal and that can be a little annoying when we want to use ‘out of the norm’ materials such as sexy Pearsall’s silks for tying say, traditional North Country Spiders or nylon or other cool looking threads found at a sewing shop.
here’s a few examples of different bobbin sizes and some work around solutions.

the ‘standard’ bobbin top right is 33mm wide along it’s axis, the tan one from Hends is 25mm and the orange silk, 17mm.
safe to say neither one will comfortably fit on the same bobbin holder, specially any of the tension adjustment types.
pearsall's on bobbin holder

in the video below from Jay Nicholas at The Caddis Fly Shop we’ll see a groovy-nifty quick-fix, short term solution that enables us to use our every day bobbin holder to knock out a few flies.

for a longer term use, specially with materials found on bulk spools such as nylon, it might be worth finding an empty ‘standard’ size bobbin, a screw and nut-
(ok, the spool below isn’t empty. just pretend)
screwed bobbin
and wind it up all pretty and neat with a power drill.
power drill
(if you re-spool monofilament nylon be sure to have a rubber band or similar thing at hand to slip over the tag end when finished or be prepared for a big frustrating mess if you let go of the tag… )

if you plan on using smaller bobbins on a somewhat regular basis, i’d highly recommend finding a cheap, bargain-bin bobbin holder as in the first pic at the top of the post and bending the arms in to size.
i’ve had that one for a while but if memory is correct i bought it for something like 2€ (2,60 $ or 1,70£) and it holds the tiniest of bobbins quite well.
not a bad investment.

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7 thoughts on “Pearsall’s problems ?

  1. Great tip — and also one of those ‘now why didn’t I think of that?’ ideas. Here’s another Pearsall’s problem I haven’t figured out — it’s lovely silk but seems to shred if I so much as think about winding it on a hook.

    • hi Shannon,
      maybe you shouldn’t think so much ! (or at least not as strongly :mrgreen:)
      but seriously, our contemporary synthetic materials are a lot stronger than these silks. originally they’re not made for being pulled on but just to sit there and be pretty. (you know, sort of)
      anyway, yes, they aren’t so strong but that shouldn’t be an issue and i can only think of two things that might be the cause of failure. either it’s a bad batch, too old, improperly stored, has had moisture and rotted a bit, etc,etc, etc, or it’s being pulled on with too much force.
      and maybe a third, since the material is inherently weaker, any wear and tear on the bobbin holder tube tip might be shredding it. it’s worth a check.
      hope this helps and thanks a bunch for your comment and stopping by !

  2. I must have lucked out with the bobbin I found. I think it’s a Dr. Slick, not sure what size, but I’ve been using it trouble-free with Pearsall’s for years.

  3. I just happened onto this post. I don’t have a picture to show but the simple solution is to glue two spools of pearsall together and thread the one you are using at the time through the bobbin.

    • nice !!! reminds me of the C&F travel spool in the Marco Polo kit that has three different coloured mini bobbins in the space where the usual one is. brilliant tip that i’ll be sure to try, thanks !

  4. Don’t the midge bobbins work for the small spools or are they no longer made? I bought one at a close out sale when I started tying. I thought it was for tying midges (lol) and almost broke it forcing a regular spool in it. I later realized it was for the small spools after seeing one in a materials catalog. Now that I have spools of silk thread I’ve misplaced (lost) the bobbin. I’ve never tried the rubber band around the bobbin legs to close them on a small spool, so I don’t know if that works.

    • hi Joe, ‘midge bobbin holders’ is a term that seems to usually designate a smaller tube diametre and tube length making them proportionally closer (and easier) to tie very small fly patterns.
      now, some ‘midge bobbin holders’ are made for the narrower spools, most not. there’s no standardisation norms and each manufacturer can use whatever term they want.

      i believe Renzetti makes one just for the narrow silk spools, maybe the the Ultra Midge ? but their site is so lame… most catalogues describe their products and even have an image of said product, but they prefer to tell us how proud they are instead. go figure…

      happy tying and thanks for stopping by,

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