All Dubbed Out and ready to Go

as promised earlier, Fly Tying: A Complete Dubbing Techniques Tutorial is back and running as before.
all images are i believe, where they should be… and Dennis Shaw’s fantastico-ultimate dubbing reference is back, available for all to see, use and learn from.

whew… to be honest, it was a royal pain in the butt because, ehh, it’s not worth going into technical details but i’m glad it’s over and i can move on to simpler and less butt-paining things such as heading back to Special Stream to drink in its beauty. enjoy !

Fly Tying- Hans and his Klink

hard to think of a trout fly fisher anywhere around the Globe that hasn’t heard of or used Hans van Klinken’s notorious Klinkhammer emerger, one of the rare true innovations the fly tying world has seen in what seems like millenia.
lots of tiers from that very same Globe have made tutorials for this particular pattern and they’re pretty much all pretty good if not actually great but one thing’s missing: they’re not Hans.

generally speaking i guess, the way i see it is no matter how close one tries to stay close to the original, there’s always a slight personalization when translating someone else’s work and as such they become variants. there’s obviously nothing wrong with those variants, however from a learning perspective, and again this is just my own point of view, it’s of greater interest to learn from the original and vary from there instead of learning from variants and varying even more.

with a good portion of the important aspects of this fantastic pattern’s how-to details highlighted/blown up in split-screen, we’ll get it straight from the horse’s mouth whilst simultaneously having the opportunity to admire Hans’ glorious man-belly. enjoy !

 

Fly Tying: A Complete Dubbing Techniques Tutorial

DEAR READERS, due to Photobucket’s recent online-photo sharing policie change (read blackmail), every single of the 204 images accompanying this article have been hidden from public view…

i will do my best to try to get those images back from author Dennis Shaw and restore them to the article.

in the meantime, and even though most of this tutorial relies heavily on the missing images, there’s still a lot to learn from the words. i still hope you’ll enjoy !


 

by Dennis Shaw

here, ladies and gents is simply put, the absolute reference in dubbing techniques.

still in awe after reading and studying this tutorial back in August 2009 on Dennis’ site UK Fly Dressing Forum, it’s one i keep going back to both for guidance and inspiration.
a lot more than just a ‘how to’, among other goodies we’ll also learn about preparing various dubbings, the pros and cons of using wax and what materials might suit some flies better than others.
as pointed out several times throughout the page, the author’s hope is that it inspires your fly tying imagination. it most definitely worked for me in my own development and i couldn’t be more grateful for this very generous gift.

adding any more on my behalf would be superfluous, so with Dennis’ kind permission, here’s the complete tutorial reproduced in full. enjoy !

note- the UKFD site has since been shut down, an enormous loss for the fly tying world.


A Complete Dubbing Techniques Tutorial

All instructions assume right-handed tyers

Introduction

It’s been a while in the making, but at last here is the all new “dubbing techniques” I promised a while back.
My initial thoughts when re-doing this was to simply add better quality pictures, but as you’ll see as you read on, what started as a simple “fix” turned into a complete re-do. All new photographs and text and it sort of grew a little on the old one with new sections added and more details included. There are no videos this time. They were hugely time-consuming to prepare and upload and the results were, for me, less than satisfactory.
Hopefully with the help of what follows and a little practice you’ll be able to utilise a variety of techniques to suit your own needs, and best of all, you’ll soon realise that the various dubbing techniques are actually very easy techniques to master.
What follows are a list of the most common techniques (and a few ideas for when you feel more confident) and how I use them. There are other techniques and other tyers will have their “own way” of doing things, with practice and research and by listening to others, you will soon develop your “own way.” I don’t profess to be an expert, so take what you will from this article and use it and adapt it to your own needs.

Let’s start with a few tips to help you…

Wash your hands before you start tying. Dirty hands will discolour dubbing.

If you have very dry or chapped hands you may find dubbing difficult, the “cure” is very simple, regular applications of hand cream. Believe me when I say this will make a huge difference, not only to the dubbing process, but also to many other areas of your tying. I suffered from dry, chapped hands for many years until I started using hand creams to replace lost moisture in my hands. I now use hand cream two or three times daily and the difference it has made is astounding!

When dubbing less is better! You will be surprised at just how far a tiny spec of dubbing will go, and in most cases how much better, more translucent and life-like your flies will look.

In the following posts I have concentrated on the techniques, one aspect of dubbing which I haven’t touched on is the effects achieved by using different threads and under-bodies. When you start using the techniques try using threads to compliment or contrast with the colour of the dubbing to see how much they can affect the final outcome. Also try different under-bodies. For instance, try dubbing a body over a dark thread under-body, then do it again with a tinsel under-body. You will be surprised at how much a simple thing, like the colour of the thread, can affect the final outcome.

Most of the terminology used in the following threads are self explanatory, but just to clarify and avoid confusion here are a few regularly used ones..

Dubbing medium– This simply means whatever material is used for dubbing.
Staple length– Means the average length of the individual strands of dubbing.
Dubbing noodle** – Simply an amount of dubbing gently rolled or pulled into a small elongated wad of dubbing.
Dubbing rope** – What you have when you complete a split thread loop or dubbing loop. Dubbing ropes are also available pre-made in packets.
Work in the fingers (or hands)– Means to work the fibres in your fingers or in the palm of your hand by rolling and/or pushing the materials together and then tearing/pulling them apart repeatedly until you have achieved the desired effect.
Under-fur– The soft downy fur next to the skin. The under-fur on animals is usually a drab pale colour.
Guard-hair– The longer spikey hair. The guard hares are usually coloured, (especially towards the tips) these hairs are what give the animal its colour.

**Whilst doing some research for this article I discovered that there is some confusion as to what a “Dubbing Noodle” is, some people refer to a dubbing noodle to be what I call a dubbing rope. At the risk of opening up a debate on the subject, I believe my use of the terminology to be correct.

*edit*
When I started this article Seal’s Fur was a readily available dubbing, though not necessarily a “politically correct” one to use. It now looks though that a ban on the sale and/or use of seal products, including Seal’s Fur, is looking inevitable. I have kept the references to it and its uses in because it is still available for the moment, and hopefully you and I will still be able to use any stock we have!

OK, let’s get started…

Tools

The basic tools I use are shown below.

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From left to right they are…
1 – The most important tool of all, your hands!
2 – Velcro, used to “rough” up bodies. This one is simply the “hooked” side of a piece of Velcro glued onto a lollipop stick.
3 & 4 – Dubbing rakes. The brass one is from Ken Newton. The white one is the “Ceramiscrape” from Lawrence Waldren, I think the best dubbing rake available. You can also make one from an old hacksaw blade.
5 – Dubbing twister. Mainly used for twisting dubbing loops with very course materials.
6 – Dubbing Whorl. Used for spinning dubbing loops.
7 – Nit comb. Used in the preparation of various long fibered yarns and wools.

This second picture is a coffee grinder, used during preparation or blending.

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These are the main tools I use when using or preparing dubbing. Apart from the hands none are essential, but they do make life easier.

What can I use for dubbing?

There are literally thousands of commercially available dubbing materials and 100x’s that in materials you can utilize for a dubbing medium.

Below are a few selections, but these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Here we have a selection of commercially available synthetic or part sythetic dubbings.
Polypropylene, SLF, Spectrablend, Antron, Glister, Lite-Brite and Mohair with a bit of flash added.

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Here we have a selection of natural materials on the skin.
Snowshoe Rabbit, Mole, Fox Squirrel, Mink, Hare’s Mask. You can use virtually any animal fur as a dubbing medium.

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Here is a selection of fur taken from the skin.
The top row is three different blends of fur taken from a Hare’s mask. The darkest one on the right is the dark hair taken from near the tip of the ear.
The bottom row is Mole and Rabbit.

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This is a small selection of dyed and blended dubbings of my own. They are mainly a blend of Seals Fur, Rabbit, Antron and Hare.

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Not to forget Seals Fur. An important point to remember when buying seal’s fur is to buy baby Seal, some places sell adult seal. Adult seal is, quite simply, a pig to work with. Avoid it like the plague!

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Finally we have a selection of materials many wouldn’t normally associate with dubbing.
Mending Yarn, Wool, Egg Yarn, Sparkle Yarn and Zelon. All of these, and things like carpet yarn and a million other unusual items can be used as a dubbing medium. I will cover how to use these later in the post.

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What is pictured is only a tiny selection of what’s available. A look through the many step by steps will give you a fair idea of what dubbings are the preferred choice for particular styles/patterns of flies.

A bit about the properties of some dubbing materials.

There are so many different types of dubbing available that it would be impossible for me to show and explain them all.
So below is a resume of some ofmyfavourite dubbings and whatIuse them for. (Mainly)
It is not meant to be a comprehensive list or appraisal of the various dubbings available. Any brands or types or their uses mentioned are purely for reference, they are not necessarily my recommendations.
What I want you to take from the post is a basic understanding of some of the dubbings that I use and why. With experience you will develop your own favourites and when to use them.

When choosing your dubbing you have many choices, do you want a natural or synthetic dubbing, do you want the texture to be coarse, medium or fine, should the dubbing absorb water or not? At this point you’re probably thinking; Crikey! How do I know? Well it’s not as difficult to decide as you might think; it’s really just a process of elimination…

Natural or synthetic? This is probably the most difficult choice you will have to make, and one that only experience can really teach you. Personally I tend to err on the side of natural for wet flies and synthetic for dry flies. The main reasons for my choices are that natural materials tend to absorb water and I think they have a more life-like appearance on wet flies, though some of the synthetics dubbings available to us now come close to the appearance of natural dubbings, and are also an excellent choice. Most synthetics dubbings do not absorb water and many are lighter than water, so make a good choice for dry flies. There are many exceptions though, natural materials which come from water-borne animals such as beavers, seals and otters also make excellent dry fly dubbing. To add to the confusion, modern floatants such as Watershed, Dilly Wax and Gink are so good as to virtually eliminate any problems of water absorption! So this is one choice that only experience will teach you. It may even be down to simply choosing natural materials because you don’t like synthetics or vice-versa because you don’t want to use fur from a dead animal!
Fine, medium or coarse texture? Many things can affect your choice here. Do you want a tight or smooth body, if yes then generally this will easier to achieve with a fine textured dubbing. If no, you want a fuzzy body with little or no defined shape, then maybe a medium or coarse textured dubbing would be a better choice. Hook size can also affect your choice, if you’re tying very small flies for example, a fine textured dubbing would, generally, be a better choice.
Should it absorb water or not? If it’s a wet fly then a dubbing which absorbs water can be an advantage, once it is wet it may help the fly sink. If it doesn’t absorb water you may need to weight the fly to help it sink. If it’s a dry fly, a dubbing which absorbs water may be a disadvantage, so one that doesn’t absorb water may be a better choice.
So as you can see by a process of elimination you can make your choices a little easier. Though as stated above, with experience you will soon develop your own personal favourites to suit particular flies.

Let’s look at some commonly available examples, but remember these are just a few of my chosen favourites and are not meant as recommendations.

HARE’S MASK

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The picture above is a blend of hare’s mask fur taken from the cheeks of the mask. By choosing fur from different places on the hare’s mask you can get a range of colours from a pale fawn (as above), through ginger to dark grey. (Almost black)
The texture is fine to medium, depending on the part of the mask it came from.
I use hare’s mask for a variety of nymphs, wet and dry flies. It touch dubs well and you can also form a noodle with it for dubbing loops. It is also very easy to twist dub. You can alter the spikiness of hare by controlling the guard hare to underfur ratio. More guard hares = spikier dubbing.
This is a picture of the mask, as you can see there is a huge range of colours and textures.

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SQUIRREL

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The picture above is squirrel fur taken from the back of a red fox squirrel pelt. Squirrel is similar to hare’s fur, and as such can be used in the same situations as hare.

RABBIT

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Rabbit is another with similar properties to hare, and again, can be used in the same situations. The underfur is a little softer than hare’s and squirrel underfur. I tend to use rabbit more as a binding agent when blending coarser dubbing.

MOLE

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Mole is fine textured and short fibred with no guard hairs. This is a great fur to use for touch dubbing.

BEAVER

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This is dyed beaver underfur; a fine textured dubbing, great for forming slim bodies on dry flies.

MUSKRAT

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This is muskrat underfur. Similar in texture to beaver, and like beaver it can be used to make nice slim bodies on dry flies.

SEAL’S FUR

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Seal’s fur is a medium textured dubbing with a unique translucence and sheen. This is the dubbing (IMHO) to use on traditional style wet flies and on dry flies such as the Shipman’s Buzzer.

FLY-RITE

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Fly-rite is one of a plethora of fine textured synthetic dubbings available. It doesn’t absorb water and is also lighter than water, making it ideal for medium to small to tiny dry flies.

SPIRIT RIVER FINE AND DRY

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Another fine textured synthetic similar to Fly-rite above. There are so many of these types of dubbing available that it really is a case of “take your pick”

WCB FLYTING EASY DUB

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Another synthetic similar to the two above, but this one is a slightly coarser texture. This is good for medium to larger dry flies. It is also great for the dubbing noodle technique shown below.

ORVIS SPECTRABLEND

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Orvis Spectrablend is one of my favourite “all round” dubbings. On its own it makes great bodies on nymphs or dry flies, it is also great for blending with natural furs, such as hare’s mask, to add a little sparkle. According to Orvis it incorporates translucent and reflective trilobal Antron fibers to add sparkle to any fly.

SLF MASTER CLASS FINESSE BLEND

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This is another favourite of mine. SLF stands for Synthetic living fibre. I like to use it for bodies and thoraxes on small buzzers and as a substitute for seal’s fur on small wet flies. It is also good on medium to small dry flies.

HARELINE DUBBIN, INC ICE DUB

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Ice dub is a medium textured sparkly dubbing, great for blending with natural dubbings such as hare’s mask to add a little bit of sparkle, or on its own it can be used to add a “hot spot” to any fly.

VENIARDS GLISTER DUBBING

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Glister is a medium to coarse textured sparkly dubbing. Like ice dubbing this can be blended with natural dubbings to give an extra sparkle to them, or used on its own to add “hot spots”

As I said at the beginning of this post these are just a few of my favourite dubbing. There are literally hundreds more to choose from, available in a huge variety of colours and textures.
In time you will find your own favourites and their uses, but until then, hopefully the above will help you to make your choices a little less haphazardly!

Preparing Dubbing.

There are various ways of preparing your dubbing. Below I have outlined some of the most common methods. I am only showing you how to prepare them here and a few examples of flies tied with the prepared dubbing. Their application is shown in separate step by steps.

Natural Furs.
The main technique for harvesting natural fur is by using a dubbing rake. There are many dubbing rakes available ready made. You can also make one yourself using a hacksaw blade attached to a piece of Dowling, or similar. I personally use commercially available ones. My weapon of choice being the “Ceramiscrape” made by Lawrence Waldron.

Pictured here are a Stonefly dubbing rake, a Ken Newton dubbing rake and the “Ceramiscrape.” The first two do the job very well, the “Ceramiscrape” is, in my opinion, exceptional.

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Using a dubbing rake is a simple process.

Simply draw the rake (under pressure) across the fur, following the direction that the fur lays.
I have shown you here on a Fox Squirrel skin, but the process is the same on all skins.

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After two or three draws you will have a decent amount of ready mixed dubbing.

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Here in close up you can see the blend of underfur and spikey guard hairs achieved.

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This is mole using the same technique.

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If you don’t have a dubbing rake, another technique you can use on mole is to scrape a razor blade over the fur. Razor blades are sharp, exercise extreme caution when using!

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The result

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Seal’s Fur dubbing almost always come ready to use, but in some cases the staple length of the fur is too long.

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The “fix” is simply a case of tearing it a few times between your fingers.

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You will then be left with a more manageable medium.

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Other dubbing mediums

Wool

As well as normal dubbing mediums such as animal furs and purpose made synthetic dubbing you can also use a range of mediums found in the average flytying kit and/or sewing/knitting box.
Most of these mediums will need some simple preparation before you can use them.
One of the most common items available is wool. It comes in a variety of colours, is cheap and easy to use.

To prepare the wool you will need the following. A fine toothed comb and a pair of scissors.
The comb shown is a nit comb I purchased from Boots for this job.

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Now simply comb the wool to separate the strands. Do a small section at a time, if you try to do too much it will get stuck.

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Once you’ve combed it a few times it will look like this.

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Remove it from the comb.

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Then cut it in to short to medium lengths.

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Finally, work it a little in your fingers and it’s ready to use.

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Whilst combing some of the fibres will stick in the comb.

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Pull these out and work in your fingers as well.

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Shown here is a fly dubbed with a body of black wool prepared using the technique shown.

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You can also use the same technique on other mediums as well.

Shown here is a trainer shoe lace prepared in the same way.

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Here is one tied with the prepared shoe lace used as the dubbing.

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You can also use mediums such as floss and mending yarn. These don’t need combed. Simply cut into short to medium, varying lengths, then after working a little in your fingers they are ready to use.

Floss.

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A fly tied with a dubbed floss body.

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Mending Yarn.

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A fly tied with a dubbed mending yarn body.

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Z-Lon.

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A fly tied with a body of touch dubbed Z-Lon.

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As you can see the materials you can use are almost limitless. By using the simple techniques shown here you can turn almost any medium into a usable dubbing.

Blending

Blending is a technique you can use to mix different colours and textures of dubbing.
Blending is also a useful technique to use if you have a dubbing which is too coarse to dub on its own. By adding a suitable dubbing, as a binding agent, such as rabbit you can turn an unusable dubbing into a usable dubbing.
Most of the dubbing blends here contain adult seal’s fur which is almost impossible to dub on its own, but by adding some rabbit and other materials, I made a perfectly usable dubbing with a nice mix of textures.

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There are various ways of blending. If you have large amounts of dubbing to blend it’s best done mixed with warm water in a food processor/blender.
For most of us though we are only blending small amounts.
For blending small amounts of dubbing, enough for just a few flies, hand blending is perfectly adequate.
Hand blending is simply a case of working the fibres together then pulling them apart several times in your hands.

Here I am blending Red, yellow and natural Seal’s fur.

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I work them together and pull apart repeatedly with my fingers.

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In a short time I have a nice blended dubbing ready for use.

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For larger amounts of dubbing a great tool is an electric coffee grinder. These make great dubbing blender.

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A point to remember with coffee grinders is that they do not cut the dubbing, so if the staple length of the dubbing is too long, you will have tear or cut it to more manageable lengths before you blend it.

Here I have the same colours of Seal’s Fur that I have just hand blended.

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Pop the lid on and give it a whizz.

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And it will turn it into a nicely blended dubbing.

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As shown on this fly here.

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Here I have added some Hare’s mask and Flash-Brite to the original mix.

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After a whizz.

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A fly with the resultant mix.

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A different blend of colours of the same materials.

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Whizz, and..

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A fly with the new blend.

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Finally here is a blend of Muskrat underfur and roughly chopped CDC fibres.

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After a whizz.

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And the fly tied with the mix.

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I could go on showing you an innumerable amount of possibilities, but hopefully I’ve given you enough for your imagination to run riot or at least a good grounding of the principles involved.

WAX

Where dubbing is concerned this is a contentious issue!

There are many tyers who swear by wax and there are many who think wax is unnecessary. I am firmly in the unnecessary camp.
If you wish to use wax or think that wax will make dubbing easier then use it. This is just my opinion, it is not set in stone. If you are unsure, listen to what I and others have to say then experiment your self and come to your own conclusions.
There are two reasons I don’t wax. The first is it is simply unnecessary. In the picture below I have dubbed, from left to right, Squirrel, Seals Fur, Orvis Spectrablend, Flash Bright and Glister. All without wax and onto copper wire. Proof, I think, that wax is unnecessary.

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The reason that wax is unnecessary is that when you apply dubbing to the thread you are only using the thread as a convenient core for the dubbing noodle. The dubbing is simply a mish-mash of tangled fibres held together by its self and around a central core. It does not stick to the thread. You can see what I mean in this close up from the picture above.

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If you use wax you may find it easier to get the material onto the thread, but you are only using a work around for bad technique. Surely it is better to master good technique!

By using wax you also lose the second reason I don’t use wax… control.
When I apply dubbing to the thread I can control, by sliding, where I want it.

Here I have dubbed some Hare’s Ear to the thread, as you can see there is a gap between the dubbing and the hook. If I had waxed the thread first I would have had to make two or three turns of thread before I started forming the dubbed body.

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Because I have not used wax I can now position the dubbing where I want it, by simply sliding it up the thread core.

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This means that from the very first turn of thread I will be forming the dubbed body.

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As I said at the beginning if you want to use wax or think that wax is necessary then use it. I am only offering my opinion on the subject along with the reasons why I have come to these conclusions.

Twist (Direct) Dubbing

Ok, you now (hopefully) have a good idea of what you can use and how to prepare it. So it’s time to learn how to apply it.
The first technique I’m going to show you is the simple twist dub, sometimes called Direct dubbing. This is probably the most common technique and the one you will undoubtedly use the most. I have shown the technique here using seal’s fur, the technique is the same no matter what medium you use.
I have highlighted a few words and phrases, pay particular attention to them.

Let’s just remind you of how you prepare it first.
Remember that this preparation is only necessary for dubbing with a long staple length. On dubbing such as hare’s ear you can omit this step.

Take a pinch of dubbing.

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Then repeatedly push it together and pull/tear it apart to work the fibres into more manageable lengths.

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You’re now ready to apply to the thread. Two things to remember here are “less is better” and “little and often!”
“Less is better?” Most beginners and many experienced tyers use too much dubbing. Try not to fall into that trap by using much less than you think you’ll need. You will be surprised at how far a tiny pinch of dubbing will go.
“Little and often?” It is easier to add more dubbing than it is to remove excess. With experience you can usually judge how much you need, but to begin with it is better to use less.

Right, let’s get some fur round that thread!
To get the dubbing round the thread core we have to twist it round the thread. You can twist it clockwise or anticlockwise, the choice is yours. I twist clockwise which is shown in the instructions. If you prefer to twist anticlockwise, the instructions are exactly the same, the only difference being the direction of the twist.
Only ever twist the dubbing in one direction. Do not twist it back and forwards!
Take a small pinch of your prepared dubbing. Offer it up to the thread between your index finger and thumb. Then push your thumb forward (to the left as shown) and at the same time draw your finger back. (To the right as shown) This will cause the dubbing to twist round the thread core between your finger and thumb.

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At the same time as you are twisting the dubbing you need to apply pressure between your finger and thumb, meaning you squeeze and twist at the same time.

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Repeat these motions several times until you are happy with the resulting dubbed thread. You can let go at any time to check. Also at any time you can twist the dubbing to tighten it. By varying the amount of pressure you can dramatically alter the finished effect, which is something you will learn with experience. To begin with you can apply too little pressure, but you can’t apply too much! Too little pressure is a very common fault with beginners.

Done correctly you will be left with something like this.

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As you can see I have only used a little here. Not enough to cover the whole body, but it is easy to add a little more if necessary.

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Now start wrapping to form the body. You will notice that I have slid the dubbing up the thread so that the body is being formed from the very first turn.

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It’s now simply a case of wrapping towards the hook eye to form the completed body. Notice that there is a gap between the end of the body and the hook eye. If this was a fly I was tying I could now add another small pinch of dubbing to complete the body. Much easier than using too much and having to pinch it off.

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This is a simple fairly level body such as I would use on a Shipman’s Buzzer or similar fly.
As I mentioned earlier you can affect the final appearance by varying the amount of pressure you apply to the dubbing. Here I have applied much more pressure at the start of the dubbing than at the end. Of course, as you can see I’ve also added a little more dubbing at the end as well. The result of using one or both techniques is a tapered body. By varying the pressure and/or the amount of dubbing and its placement you can easily build a ready made taper into the body. Which technique or techniques you use or prefer is something you will learn with experience.

The tapered dubbing noodle.

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The effect.

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That is twist dubbing, a fairly simple process. By following the few simple guidelines above and with a little practice you will soon master this technique.
Pay particular attention to the pressure. As mentioned earlier, one of the most common mistakes beginners make is applying too little pressure when squeezing and twisting the dubbing.

The following are a few ideas for you to contemplate and, hopefully, find inspiration from.

Here I have wrapped a body of copper wire, then twist dubbed the wire with a little fiery brown seal’s fur and wrapped it back up as a rib.

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Here I have wrapped a yellow silk body and tied in a gold wire rib, then twist dubbed the wire with super fine dry fly dub before wrapping to form the rib.

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Finally this one is a body of black Orvis Spectrablend ribbed with oval gold tinsel twist dubbed with a little Peacock Spectrablend.

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TOUCH DUBBING

Touch dubbing is a versatile technique, most suited to mediums with a short staple length, mole being a classic example. Many other mediums can be used though, such as Hare’s Ear and Z-Lon (shown in the preparation posting)
Touch dubbing is the only technique I use wax on. There are several makes of wax suitable for touch dubbing, the one I use is BT’s Dubbing Wax, distributed by Veniards. As well as wax you can also use glue sticks, such as Pritt stick.
BT’s Dubbing Wax is supplied in two formulas, tacky for flies size 12 and smaller, and super tacky for flies size 10 and larger. I must admit I use super tacky almost all the time.

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When using dubbing wax you want a thin, even coating of wax on the thread. If your wax looks like this you will find it impossible.

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A tip I recently picked up is to simply wipe it on a post-it note to remove all the gunk.

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One you’ve done that you will find it easy to achieve an even coat.

To touch dub, apply a light even coat of wax to the thread. One or two wipes with the wax are all that is needed.

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Once coated, take your dubbing medium, in this case mole fur, and simply touch it against the waxed thread.

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A few fibres will stick to the wax.

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As you can see there are only a few fibres stuck to the thread in this example. When you wrap to form the body the thread will show through the dubbing.

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You can vary this effect by altering the amount of dubbing you allow to adhere to the wax. Here I’ve been heavier handed with the “touch”

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Which, when wrapped will give a fuller appearance to the resulting body.

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That’s all there is to it, a simple but very versatile technique, which with practice and experience you will be able to achieve whichever effect you want from the merest hint of dubbing to a full fat body.

Here are some variations on the theme again for inspiration.

Light hare’s mask touch dubbed on gold wire and wrapped as a rib.

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Green wire touch dubbed with olive hare’s ear blend and wrapped as a rib.

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Claret mole touch dubbed on an orange grizzle stripped hackle and wrapped to form the body.

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TWIST AND TOUCH

A variation on the touch dubbing theme is the twist and touch. Basically the same technique, but with a twist.

Apply wax to the thread as above and touch the waxed thread with the dubbing (I’ve used dyed claret mole here) but this time as you touch the dubbing against the waxed thread, twist the thread clockwise with your other hand.

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Continue doing this until you have the required amount of dubbing on the thread.

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Then when you wrap the dubbed thread you will see a different effect from the normal touch dubbed thread.

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As with the normal touch dubbing technique you can vary the amount of dubbing to influence the final outcome.

THE DUBBING LOOP

This is the traditional dubbing loop. It is a stronger dubbing loop than the split thread loop because you are effectively forming a loop of two threads thickness, as opposed to the split thread loop where you split a single thread. Its obvious advantage is its strength, making it ideal for coarser or bulkier dubbings. Its one real disadvantage is that because you are effectively doubling the thread thickness, bulk can become an issue, though in most situations the issue is very minor. After forming the loop the techniques involved in applying the dubbing are identical to the split thread loop.
For this technique you will need a dubbing whorl, shown here. This tool is used to spin the loop, doing the job the bobbin does in the split thread loop.

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To form the loop..

Wrap the thread to the mid point of the hook shank, then lengthen the amount of thread from the bobbin to the hook, take it round your finger(s) and back up to the hook.

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Then continue wrapping the thread down (to the left) the hook shank, trapping both legs of the loop as you go.

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When you reach the point where you want the dubbing loop to be, stop wrapping and take the loop in your other hand.

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Then take the working thread and wrap it once round the loop next to the hook shank. This closes the loop at the hook shank.

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Now attach the dubbing whorl to the loop and you’re ready to use the loop.

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At this point I normally hang one leg of the loop over the star wheel of my vice to keep it open, using the weight of the whorl to keep a tension on the loop. If you leave it to just hang it will invariable spin of its own accord, you will then have to unspin it. A minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience all the same and easily avoided.

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As said above, the techniques used to apply the dubbing to the dubbing loop are identical to the split thread loop.

Here I have applied seal’s fur to one leg of the loop.

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As before, remove your fingers and the loop closes.

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Now spin the dubbing whorl.

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And the dubbing rope is formed.

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Now wrap your dubbing rope to form the body. When you reach the end of the body tie the dubbing rope off the same as you would any other material.

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The body finished and the rope tied off.

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In this sequence I have inserted a small seals fur dubbing noodle into the loop.

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Then spun the whorl to form the dubbing rope.

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Finally, wrapping and tying off the rope.

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Some more ideas for you to mull over and amuse yourself with.

Here I tied in 3 peacock herls then twisted them round one leg of the loop and applied a pinch of peacock Orvis Spectrablend to the other leg. Then spun them and wrapped the resultant rope to form an interesting body.

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One final idea for you.

Here I have twist dubbed some fiery brown flash bright onto one leg and on the other leg I have twist dubbed black and orange seal’s fur.

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Then spun the loop to form the rope, and wrapped to form the body.

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Then a rub with Velcro, and..

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Split Thread Dubbing Loop

Firstly, apologies in advance. Due to the complexities involved in photographing some of the following sequences, some of the pictures are a little lower quality than I would have liked. But, until I can get a couple of extra pairs of arms they are the best I can do. Don’t worry though; they are clear enough to allow you to see everything.
Dubbing loops are the most versatile techniques you can have at your disposal. As you will hopefully see in this and the next three posts, the opportunities are almost endless. We’ll start with the split thread dubbing loop, this is, I think the most useful of the “loop” techniques. You can employ it to tie everything from large saltwater patterns all the way down to size 32 midges if you want. Its main advantages are that it’s quick and easy to perform, and it adds little if any bulk to the dressing. It doesn’t really have any disadvantages, the only thing you have to be aware of is that because you are splitting the thread it won’t be as strong as the traditional dubbing loop (shown in the next post) but, unless you are try to use coarse dubbing mediums, strength doesn’t really come in to it. Thread is not particularly strong and there is a limit to how much you spin it, it would be impossible for me to demonstrate just how far you can go, but with both the split thread and the traditional dubbing loops you will very quickly learn how much spin you can apply without breaking the thread.
Although the techniques employed to form the split thread and the traditional dubbing loop are different, once formed the techniques employed to apply the dubbing are the exact same for both loops.
Thread choice is important for the split thread dubbing techniques. Basically there are two types of thread, bonded and unbonded. Bonded threads are twisted and stuck together (for want of a better description) Unbonded thread is not stuck together. The bonded thread that springs to mind is UNI Thread, I’m sure there are others too. What this means is that because of the manufacturing process it is very difficult to split the thread. So for the spit thread loop it is best to use an unbonded thread. Typical unbonded threads are UTC, Benecchi, Roman Moser Power Silk, Gudebrod, (Gudebrod no longer make flytying threads, but there are plenty of places which still have stock left) Danville’s and Gordon Griffiths.
All of the above unbonded threads are suitable for the split thread loop. For reference I have used UTC70 in the following sequences.
Because you will need to flatten the thread to split it, it is important to know that all threads with the exception of Pearsall’s silks are spun clockwise. This means that to flatten them you will need to spin them anti-clockwise and when you spin the loop to form the dubbing rope you will need to spin them clockwise.

Below is a picture of bonded (on the left) and unbonded (on the right) threads. You can easily see which one is going to be the easiest to split.

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To form a split thread loop wrap a layer of thread to where you want the loop formed, then spin the bobbin anti-clockwise.

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If you’re lucky you will have a flat spot where the thread hangs off the hook. When to spot when you have spun the thread enough to take the twist out of it is something you will learn with very little practice. If you don’t get the flat spot next to the hook you can lay the tread, tensioned by the weight of the bobbin, across your index finger, then slide you finger up and down the thread a few times and you should be able to split the thread then.

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To split the thread take a dubbing needle or darning needle or similar and preferably one with a blunt point and insert it through the (roughly) middle of the thread. Don’t worry, it sounds difficult, but in reality with a little practice it is actually quite easy.

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You can see the split better here.

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Once you have split it, gently coax the thread loop open until you can get your finger(s) into it, then continue coaxing it open until you have a loop large enough to work with. If the loop sticks when you are opening it, try turning the bobbing anti-clockwise a few turns, this will usually sort the problem. Occasionally though you will encounter a spool of thread which doesn’t split well. In this case try a different spool of thread.

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That’s all there is to it.
You now have several choices on how you apply the dubbing.
The first technique here is to simply twist dub (See the twist dubbing post) the thread on one side of the loop.

Here I am twist dubbing some hare’s ear onto the thread. I am keeping the thread open with the fingers of my other hand.

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Once you have enough dubbing on the thread..

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Remove your fingers from the loop allowing the loop to close.

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Then pinch the loop immediately below the dubbed portion.

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Then with the loop pinched spin the bobbin holder clockwise.

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When you think it has spun enough stop and hold the bobbin holder, then let go of the loop. The twist will shoot up the loop twisting the dubbing and loop into a dubbing rope. If need be you can “force” the twist up the thread by holding the bobbin in one hand and gripping the thread at the end of the bobbin with the index finger and thumb of your other hand, then sliding your fingers up towards the dubbing rope will “force” the twist up. If you haven’t put enough twist into the thread, simply repeat the process until you have. Once done it should look something like this.

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Now it is a simple case of wrapping it to form the body. With practice you will learn how much dubbing to use so that the dubbing will run out exactly where you want it to.

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As with the other dubbing techniques, with practice, you will be able to affect the final outcome by varying the amount of dubbing you use.
Another technique you can employ is to insert a dubbing noodle into the loop. This dubbing noodle is slightly different to the one shown in the noodle dubbing post in so much as the noodle is formed completely in the hand.
To form the noodle take a pinch of dubbing, hare’s ear here.

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Then place it in the palm of your hand and using the index finger of your other hand gently roll it and work it…

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Until you have a loose noodle like this.

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Now form your split thread loop exactly as before and this time insert the noodle between the two threads of the loop.

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Then, as before withdraw your fingers to close the loop.

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Then grip the thread loop just below the dubbing noodle.

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Then spin the bobbin clockwise to form the dubbing rope.

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Finally wrapping as before to form the body.

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This next technique is great for forming legs or, in this case, a hair hackle.

Form your loop exactly as described above. Then take a pinch of guard hairs, I’ve taken these ones from a fox squirrel pelt, in a bulldog type clip.

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Then insert them into the loop. Once you have them in the loop, close and grip it, then release the guard hairs from the clip.

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Adjust them for length by gently pulling on either the tips, to make them longer, or the butts to shorten them. Then carefully trim the butts close to the thread.

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Then, again, exactly as above, grip the thread and spin the bobbin to form your dubbing rope.

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This time when you wrap the rope, stroke the fibres back (to the left) with each wrap of the rope.

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When you’ve done it should look something like this.

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So there you have three techniques you can employ with the split thread loop. There are a few variations, (which will appear in future step by steps) but these three are all that you will need to master the techniques involved.
You can use one, two or all three techniques in a great many flies.
Here is one example of a hare’s ear type nymph where I have twist dubbed the thread onto the loop to form the body. Then I’ve inserted a dubbing noodle into the loop for the thorax. Finally forming a hair hackle to finish the fly.

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Here’s one simple variation though for you.

Try dubbing both sides of the loop with different dubbing. To let you see the effect better here, I’ve dubbed one side with black beaver and the other side with white beaver.

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Spin the loop as above and it looks like this.

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And wrapped it looks like this.

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Here is a fly I’ve tied as above, but this time I’ve used olive and yellow beaver. The thorax was formed from a split thread loop with a noodle of olive hare’s ear blend inserted. The effect is subtle and, I think, attractive.

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If you want to get complicated you can combine the dubbing loop and split thread loop!

Here I have formed a dubbing loop then split one leg of the loop and inserted an orange and a black slf dubbing noodle into the split thread. Then I inserted a pearl ice dub dubbing noodle in the dubbing loop.

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Then gave it a spin for an interesting dubbing rope.

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Wrapped to form the body.

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Then a rub with Velcro for the resulting body.

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As you can see, once you’ve mastered the basic techniques involved you can let your imagination and creativity run wild.

NOT A LOOP

Hopefully what follows will provide you with some inspiration and encourage you to sometimes “think out of the box”
Most of what is here is a direct result of the inspiration I have received looking at the techniques subtly introduced to us in the many recipes and pictures of flies posted here (and elsewhere) by, among others, Hans Weilenmann
The following are variations on the dubbing loop technique that opens up a myriad of possibilities, only a few of which I’ve shown below. As with the techniques shown above the only real limit is your imagination.

Here I have inserted some natural seal’s fur between two plys of sparkle yarn. Then gripped the resultant “loop” in a pair of rotating hackle pliers.

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Then using the hackle pliers as a dubbing twister I’ve twisted it into a dubbing rope which I have wrapped to form, in this instance, the whole fly.

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The result when you add water is..

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Doesn’t really look much like a fly though! But notice I left a portion of the yarn at the head free of dubbing.
A quick wipe or two with a brown marker pen and, I think, a very passable sedge pupa appears.

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Here I have inserted a hare’s mask blend of dubbing between 4 strands of pheasant tail fibres.

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Then twisted them with my rotating hackle pliers.

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The result is an interesting fuzzy body.

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Finally one here using 1 strand of green copper wire and 1 strand of red copper wire with a clear Antron noodle inserted between them.

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Then twisted with the rotating pliers again.

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And wrapped to form a body.

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Finally a rub with Velcro.

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The effect when wet is interesting to say the least.

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Once again you can see some of the interesting results that are possible when you let your imagination run riot.
Have fun!

DUBBING NOODLE

This is a technique I rarely use, but it is a useful technique to have in your armoury. Its main use is for bodies on larger flies. This technique is only really suitable for dubbings mediums with a medium to long staple length. Mediums such as Hare’s Ear, Mole, Squirrel, Seal’s Fur, etc don’t really lend themselves to this technique.
For reference the dubbing I have used here is WCB flytying supplies “Easy Dub” a synthetic dubbing.

Wind the thread half way down the hook shank.

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Take a wad of dubbing and pull some out, then twist the end to a point.

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Then tie it in.

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Now place the dubbing next to the thread.

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Then pinch the dubbing and thread between your fingers. Don’t pinch too tight, you want the dubbing to feed from the wad as you wrap.

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Now start wrapping. With this technique you do not twist the dubbing onto the thread. Any twisting is imparted naturally during the wrapping process.

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Keep wrapping and feeding from the wad until you reach the tie-off point.

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Separate the thread from the dubbing and then tie in the end of the dubbing noodle.

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And that’s it, a quick and easy way to apply a larger amount of dubbing to the hook. It’s also much stronger than normal dubbing techniques.
I scrubbed this much harder than I normally would with a Velcro brush.

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Had I scrubbed the same material, twist dubbed, as hard I don’t think there would have been much left! But with this technique..

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A simple example of this techniques usefulness..

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THE DOUBLE LOOP

I swithered on whether to include this technique or not. It is a little used technique, but decided to include it anyway, if for no other reason than it’s here if you want it. This is the double loop, for use with very coarse dubbings. In this instance Deer hair dubbing. This one from Roman Moser is a blend of Deer hair and synthetic fibres. You can also use Deer hair cut from the hide if you like.

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As its name suggests this technique utilizes two loops. The obvious advantage is its strength. Its one disadvantage is bulk, though again, in reality it is a really minor disadvantage.
The dubbing whorl used for the dubbing loop is not up to the task for this technique, the sprung wire is not strong enough to tighten the spun rope tight enough. You need to use a different tool.
The dubbing twister.

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This tool differs from the dubbing whorl in that rather than spinning it to form the dubbing rope, you simply twist it with your fingers to form the rope.

To begin, wrap the thread to around the midpoint of the hook shank.

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Then start by forming a normal dubbing loop using the dubbing twister as an aid. Unlike the normal dubbing loop you do not take a turn of thread round the loop.

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Then wrap the thread towards the bend and over the legs of the dubbing loop.

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Once you have reached the bend, wrap the thread back up the body (to the right) for three or four turns.

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Then form a second loop. You need both loops to be the same length, so form the second loop using the dubbing twister to ensure both loops are the same length.

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Let’s take a little break here and go over how to form and use the double loop in a little more detail. Because of the difficulties of trying to photograph this one with the deer hair dubbing I’m using a synthetic dubbing noodle to simulate the dubbing. The noodle makes it much easier for me to photograph and it will also let you see things in more detail.

So here I’ve formed the first loop and this time I’ve taken the thread much further up the hook shank so that you can see the loops and how to use them easier.

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The second loop formed.

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As you can see here with the dubbing twister removed we have two separate loops. The dubbing will go between the two loops.

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Here the dubbing twister is back on and I’ve arrowed where the dubbing will be inserted.

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Here I’ve re-done the loops closer together and inserted the dubbing noodle.

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Before you twist the dubbing into a rope you have to take one turn of thread round both loops to pinch them together at the top.

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Next I’ve taken the thread up to the shoulder of the fly, where the body will be tied off.

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Make the first turn of the dubbing rope at an angle as shown so that your dubbed body starts at the end.

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Hopefully that’s made things a little clearer for you.
OK, break over, so now it’s back to the deer hair..

Once formed you can insert your dubbing material into the loop.

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Then take one turn of thread round the two loops to close them at the top, then twist the dubbing twister clockwise to begin forming the rope.

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Keep twisting until you have the formed rope.

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Then wrap the dubbing rope to form the body. Stroke the fibres back with each wrap of the rope.

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Then when you have the body formed tie the rope off.

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Then all you have to do is trim the hair to shape with scissors.

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Here I’ve added a wing of cow elk hair to make a simple, but durable sedge.

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© Dennis Shaw 2009

Winged Nymphs for Dynamic Nymphing

winged-nymph-Lucian-Vasies

some high-level fly design from Lucian Vasies any and every nymph fisher might (read should) take into consideration: it’s that good.

Winged Nymphs for Dynamic Nymphing could be considered a new frontier in fishing nymphs and a new way to tie flies. Some fly tiers consider them ugly. In terms of a classic construction and after the traditional rules to tie a nymph, these flies are quite ugly. These flies don’t follow the rules for conical bodies or for the tail made from feather fibers. What about the typical streamer wings? Something like these was never seen on nymphs. But appearance is not important to these nymphs. Their goal is not to please the fisherman, but to catch fish.”

winged-nymph-tail-Lucian-Vasies
the two key elements setting this beast apart from the rest, both of CDC fibres for the reasons explained in Lucian’s complete text and step-by-step you can access by clicking either pic.
winged-nymph-wing-Lucian-Vasies


Lucian’s a buddy and i know he won’t take this sideways but the fold-over wing isn’t exactly new but that’s of no importance. what is however is this concept is as hot as it gets when it comes to wet fly and nymph design.
here’s my ever so succesful ‘bladge i started tinkering with four years ago. it’s a black midge just subsurface wet, size 20 where the soft,Bladge 25-1-13 fold-over wing was inspired by Peter Dobbs’ Shwartza (bottom pic) created in the early ’90s for the UK reservoir competition scene which in turn might have been inspired by the soft wing tied semi-upright  Clyde style flies from a hundred and more years ago. Clyde wings are typically tied with wings slips from game birds. they’re nowhere as stiff as genetic cock hackles but they retain their wing shape a lot more than the marabou used in the Shwartza or fuzzy fibres found at the base of starling feathers i use for the ‘bladge.

what they do have in common with Lucian’s ingenious idea of using CDC fibres is all these super-soft materials collapse back when wet. since they’re tied in wing-style every fibre is free to move around, both undulating with the current and creating a very life-like ‘outer shell’ of the imitation’s body, something any other tying method has a very hard time replicating. play around with the concept, i promise you won’t regret.


for more on the Shwartza click the pic

Eat Sleep Fish’s Happy Birthday Dun !

ESF 4th b-day

48 issues and 4 years old today !

that’s really big and a wonderful example of perseverence and passion resulting in a simple, good-natured, non-advertising, no glits and glam, always great to read fly fishing ezine.
in a way, Eat Sleep Fish has the feel of your local newspaper but with contributors from around the world and that’s why i like it so much. it’s a combined effort of peers just like you and me and not the same-old hotshots over and over again.
saying how much i enjoy reading a magazine without having adverts shoved down my throat might sound like i’m ranting about most other ezines (all?) but birthday’s aren’t about ranting, they’re about yummy celebrations and what’s better than chocolate cake ? well, nothing. or rather, chocolate cake with a big scoop of chocolate ice-cream on top ! but neither Pete Tyjas who runs ESF nor i can slip you a slice via the web so let’s just slurp down Warren McCarty’s non-fatteneing #20 Olive Dun instead but first you’ll need to tie some up and here’s how to do it.
take special note of steps 10 & 11. i’d never seen this method before and its really special.

click either pic to access the birthday issue and HERE for an archive of all previous issues. enjoy !


#20 Olive Dun Step by Step by Warren McCarthy

“A smaller than average dry fly this month and one which takes inspiration from the dedicated ‘small fly’ websites. Although a size 20 is hardly small compared with the miniscule flies some tie it certainly is as small as I need to go for almost all my fishing. I love all the materials used in this pattern, the natural materials and colours produce a fly which to me, looks and feels right both in and out of the water.
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I have been tying duns with quill bodies and long split tails for a while, my patterns having the popular CDC wing with a hackle. But once I started to drop out of my comfort zone into a #20 and even smaller I started to use a thorax/hackle that I had come across whilst reading Andy Baird’s excellent ‘small fly funk’ website. Andy used a mole fur thorax with his hackle in his ‘generic olive’, which when I tried looked great. By doing away with the wing the tie was simplified. Less materials equalled less turns of thread and therefore less bulk, essential in smaller flies.

The extented tail is without doubt a trigger point, much has been written on the subject and I for one have been converted to the silhouette this type of pattern creates.
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Material choice is especially important to me with with this pattern.

The hook is always down to personal preference but to me the Partridge hook is a ‘proper’ size 20. I also go a bit smaller with the Tiemco 103bl #21. But I have to confess to using the Flytying Boutique dry fly light hook (which is essentially the same as the Tiemco but cheaper) more and more these days.

Although a #20 is by no means miniscule, the size still creates problems with the tricky tail and making sure there is no excessive thread build up throughout the tie. The excellent veevus thread has great strength for its diameter which certainly helps.

Yes I am afraid it’s another fly with a Polish quill body, but I’m quite honestly struggling to find anything that looks as good in this sort of ‘natural’ pattern.

I find most capes have a fair few tiny hackles at the base which are fine for a #20. Finally, not much to be said about the mole fur except don’t overdo it.

Materials
Hook – Partridge SLD #20 or Flytying Boutique Dry Fly Light #20
Thread – Veevus 16/0 AO5 Olive
Tail – Tan Microfibbets
Body – Polish Quill Yellow
Thorax – Mole Fur
Hackle – Cock Cape – Brown

Tying
1. Vice up your hook and catch in the thread.
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2. Carefully wind down the shank with touching turns until in line with the point.
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3. Now carefully separate two microfibbets and lay together so as the tips align and then lay on the shank leaving the tail at least twice the length of the hook shank. Carefully catch in the microfibbets with your thread and wind down until just short of the bend. Make sure the microfibbets remain on top of the shank.
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4. Follow the same procedure to split the tails as described in detail in my June ESF article ‘Olive Variant’

With the waste trimmed and covered the thread should be left just short of the eye.

5. Wind the thread back down to the bend where the microfibbets split. Select a quill and carefully catch in, then wind your thread back up covering the waste quill finish three quarters of the way up the shank and trim off waste quill.
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6. Now using your hackle pliers carefully wind your quill up the shank to form the body, tie off three quarters of the way up the shank leaving enough space for your hackle.I now use a couple of whip finishes to hold the body in place for varnishing. DO NOT cut the thread.
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7. The quill, as always, needs varnish to offer protection and to bring out the colours. For such a small body I use a sewing needle to apply a very fine coat of ‘Hard As Nails’.
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8. While the varnish is drying select a small hackle. Take a bit of time and care: the individual fibres should be, if possible, no longer than the length of the body.
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9. Catch in the hackle with the stem towards the bend, give a couple of turns of thread then trim off waste. Continue to wind the thread up to the body covering the waste and tidying up.
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Catch in.
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Trim waste and tidy up.

10. Wind on three or four turns of hackle snug against the body catch in with one or two turns of thread.
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11. Now dub on a tiny amount of mole fur (I apply a tiny amount of wax). Carefully wind the dubbed thread in between the hackle fibres leave thread at eye ensuring and spare dubbing is removed.
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Lightly dub.
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Wind the remaining hackle back through the previous wound hackle/mole dubbing foundation towards the hook eye.

12. Push back hackle and whip finish.
Trim thread and apply varnish with a sewing needle.
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13. I like to give the hackle a haircut and trim off underneath to ensure the fly sits well in the water.
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The finished fly
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Look out for these:
Take time to ensure the tail microfibbets sit on top of the shank and split with a nice wide ‘v shape’.
Although easier said than done with a small body, try to ensure the quill body still has the definition showing the black edges.
As mentioned before do not overdo the mole fur dubbing.
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Summary
To me the most important part of the fly is the long split tail; it helps the fly sit well in the water and definitely acts as a trigger point as mentioned before. Although not a ‘classic’ technique I like running the dubbed thread through the hackle, it splays the fibres out giving an uneven finish. And when trimmed underneath the hackle takes on a ‘hedgehog’ effect.

Although I have made reference to the small fly websites, this fly is by no means the ‘work of art’ type patterns seen on these sites. Their creations go down to staggering #28, #30 and even smaller. The thread I use and no doubt the tying technique would be over the top for these tiny masterpieces.
However it is still fun to tie and more importantly, fish with, whilst being a step in the right direction of even smaller creations. After tying a few, a #16 seems enormous.
Now where did I leave the box of #26 !!!!”

Which is better, Good Head or Great Tail ?

thanks to buddy Dron Lee and his just-out Jigging Damsel Nymph the age old debate is no more as this stunning creature has both. created to capture the murky denizens in deepest-darkest Malaysia, just one look in this damsel’s direction tells us she’ll be a stunner anywhere around our beautiful globe.

sure, her big forehead, shiny neck, silky-rubbery legs and globular eyes get my attention,jiggling damsel Dron Lee
but take a look at her backside and imagine it all wet and dancing about !
Jiggling damsel tail Dron Lee

ok hear me out, i’ll explain why i’m so excited…  real damsel nymphs move about quite quickly in the water and their swim closely resembles that of a tiny fish. this two part tail, while remaining flexible in its entirety which makes it very lively and seductive and all that will move about slightly differently in its two parts: abdomen/actual tail, since the abdomen is stiffer than the tail and no matter how weird it may sound, that kind of stuff gets my blood pumping.

to make this lovely tail you’ll need a needle, some chenille, tying thread and, as for how to put this and all of the rest of her together, you’ll have to click one of the pics above for the complete step-by-step. enjoy !

a 13 second caddis larva

fast, simple, strong and quite a good looker.

 

“You have to fish this larva deep, that’s why there is a lot of weight in it. It still got a slim body, so it sinks fast to the bottom. You will find Caddis in almost every river and it’s an important part of the fish’s menu.The coloration with the brown line on the abdomen is not a must. I just did it to show you what possibilities you have with ordinary marker pens. It’s tied on a # 10 hook, which sounds pretty big, but the body length is close to the original, just try to keep a slim, natural looking body. Ok, let’s start!”  and to do that (and even if it takes a bit longer than 13 seconds…),  find the materials list and complete step-by-step tutorial on Holger Lachmann‘s great The One Fly blog by clicking the image below. enjoy !

Caddis Larva - Holger Lachman

Fly Tying- Deviating Charlie’s Nuke Egg

some people like egg patterns and some people don’t but what i’m seeing in Charlie Craven’s great step-by-step tutorial is a tying technique that’ll be of interest to any fly fisher. (except for the die-hard dry fly purist… )

Charlie's Nuke Egg

– as is, the Nuke of course looks like a very yummy fish egg still encapsulated by its embryonic sac but if we play with the basic pattern, use an as-close-to-clear as possible egg yarn and say, add two big black eyes we’ll have a fantastic alevin imitation.
– if we don’t add the veil and use that same egg construction shape and stack several close together along the hook shank and then trim to shape once the yarn is all fluffed out we have a really interesting, super-easy, translucent, lively and very attractive streamer body.
– the very same egg shape would make a much nicer head for egg-sucking leeches than the typical chenille.
– this stuff doesn’t hold water for long so we can easily build up a bulky fly body and still have something easy to cast.
– i’m sure there’s plenty of other uses to this technique i haven’t thought of but by now i’m equally sure you’ll see that it’s not just about egg patterns.

click the pic for Charlie’s complete step-by-step. enjoy !

Fly Tying- April tells us all about her Rhea

first, here’s the beast.
3 Rheas well, three of them…

as for the telling all about part, here’s April Volkey giving what’s in my mind/experience the finest and most thought-out fly tying material how-to-use demonstration i’ve ever seen.
it’s not about constructing a specific pattern but about exploring the endless possibilities and hands-on practical aspects of this long, durable and very lively fibre and incorporating it to all manner of salmon, steelhead flies or basically any kind of wet fly or streamer whether it be for fresh or saltwater. be sure to watch it in HD, enjoy !

 

as for the beast itself, click on the threesome for more info.

Fly Tying- Herman’s Roy-style Reversed Parachute micro caddis

Herman as in deGala and Roy as in Christie !

i of course don’t mean any disrespect as i really like this video and Herman’s demeanour but ! apart from the bright green egg sack, to be honest, i can’t for the life of me see this fly as anything caddisy… but (again) ! lets have a closer look at this fly’s other component, one we can easily transfer over to countless other dry/emerger/floating nymph patterns; the Christie-style Parachute hackling method.

no style is an end-all but this one really stands out from the crowd on several levels, most notably by its ‘puffed-up in a ball’ fibre positions but also overall strength and resistance to fish teeth and other abrasions.
more ‘traditional’ hackling around the hook shank has the fibres oriented vertically when the fly is resting at the surface whereas others where the hackle is wound on a post such as the Klinkhammer or Christie styles have them horizontally, parallel to the water’s surface.
generally speaking, vertical fibres will have only their tips in contact with the water’s surface, thus the fly’s body is suspended above the surface whereas horizontal fibres are splayed out on the water. the latter leaves a bigger imprint on the surface but also does a better job at suspending what’s beneath it, in this case, the fly’s body or ‘floating nymph’ as it where.

as to it’s sturdiness, what makes this one so close to the proverbial bullet-proofness is that the hackle stem is enclosed within the nylon loop. should one segment be torn, the rest still hold their place, something traditionally wound hackles can’t claim. one little nick and the fly needs to be changed.
i don’t loose a lot of flies so how they hold up through time is important. (i’m also very lazy when it comes to tying sessions, or rather, it’s hard for me to actually start tying flies. once i’ve started i can’t stop and it’s not like flies are precious but i just don’t know when i’ll feel like tying again so the ones that have hatched are expected to last. i’ve digressed enough….) anyhow !

a while back we’d already seen Roy’s Reverse Parachute step-by-step and complete video tutorial and while Herman’s version isn’t a night and day variant, something about it makes the whole nylon post and hackling method seem simpler, something that should be of great interest for the person wanting to learn and try out this hackling method.

my guess is the ‘simpler’ part might have to do with using a Gallows tool to hold the nylon post vertically and tight whereas Roy does without. i’ve been tying mine for years without the tool and it of course works very well but i’ll give it a try soon as i suspect it makes winding the hackle easier and more importantly, easier to keep the winds compacted close to the hook before tightening the loop.
in a pinch, you can make a little metal hook from a paper clip and attach that to a rubber band, the lot suspended from your tying light or have someone hold the nylon post while you wind the hackle. it only takes a few seconds, plus its a good way to put your partner/spouse/sexdwarf/roommate/butler or whomever’s handy to good use… ummmm, enjoy !

some previously seen yums. i loves yums !

Fly Tying- The GRH (gold ribbed hare) Nymph, a step-by-step

Gold-Ribbed-Hares-Nymph-belly-view
“The Gold Ribbed Hare Nymph is probably one of the oldest nymph used by fishermen. Back in the past this nymph was tied differently and was upgraded in time. First was an ugly fly with dubbing all over the hook shank and a few turns of gold tinsel.”

and then it turned into something both yummy and beautiful !

from Lucian Vasies, here’s a super-nice step-by-step tutorial with great photos to help you make your own must-have nymphs effective anywhere in the world for insect-eating fish of all species. click the pic to access Lucian’s page. enjoy !

Tying a Troutline Catgut Biothread Nymph

these little beauties from Lucian Vasies are the chocolate covered marshmallow-filled fish candy hot dogs of the nymph world, some of the handful of freshwater fly patterns that fit in the “If a fish won’t take them flies they don’t deserve to be caught… “ category and better yet, they’re a super-easy and super-fast pattern to tie. hard to beat on all levels, aye ?
micro-french-nymphs-for-trout-and-grayling-tied-with-troutline-catgut-biothread

“The Micro Nymph tied bellow with Catgut Biothread is a fly used in East Europe for his realistic look and for “easy to be tied” fact. A fly like this is efficient for his generic aspect and can be considered a search type of pattern. In fact this pattern is tied with body made of different types of threads but catgut gives a special look . The translucency is very unique and gives a realistic aspect to all flies ( nymphs or emergers ) tied with this fantastic material.”
step-4body-of-nymph-tied-with-troutline-catgut-biothread

click either pic for the complete step-by-step and HERE to source Biothread.
bon appétit , enjoy !

Tuesday’s ShoutOut- the UKFlyDressing forum

UKFlyDressing or UKFD, has been since i signed up six years ago my favorite fly tying forum among the crowd.
always friendly, unpretentious and with a very rich assortment of fly patterns, step-by-steps, tying tips and you name it goodies to keep the fly tier of all levels learning, creative and more efficient.
the highly read here on TLC, Dennis Shaw’s fantabulous A Complete Dubbing Techniques Tutorial is just one of the gems we’ll find on UKFD, i’ve included another lovely below this introduction.

the forum has been a little slow lately. apart from wanting to share a great source for my readers i’m also hoping that at least a few of you will like what you see and feel inclined to join up yourselves and share your ties and knowledge with the rest of the community and keep it alive and thriving for years to come. just in case: don’t be put off by the UK bit, its an international community making it rich and diversified. dig into the various sections deeply, you’ll find more than a few treasures.

you’ll find the main page HERE  but check out this great thread control/twist tutorial first. enjoy !


Don’t get in a Twist by Tango

The majority of threads have a clockwise twist. For a right handed tyer when you wrap the thread around the hook you put another full twist in for every turn taken around the shank. This tightens or cords the thread even more. You must learn to use this to your advantage i.e. when tying in materials/whip finishing/making a rib from thread.

No twist in thread
spin1

Wrapped to bend and a twist in there, not much but it affects the behaviour of the thread.
spin2
If you leave the twist in and try and take a soft turn over the materials the thread will want to lie to the right, this makes it difficult to get the thread where you want it.
spin3
Spin the bobbin anticlockwise and it takes the twist out, this make the thread lie straight and it goes where you want it to.
spin4
You can also spin the bobbin more to put an anticlockwise twist in the thread, this makes the thread lie to the left, you can use this to make the soft loop over your fingers and slide the thread down to the tie in point.
spin7

Why bother?
If you leave the twist in there and whip finish the thread bunches and knots, this usually results in the thread snapping and the whip finish coming undone.

It really does make it easier to tie in materials.

When to take the twist out?
Before tying in materials, whip finishing, splitting thread for dubbing and when you want the thread to lay flat – this reduces bulk.

Exceptions?
Pearsall’s silk has an anticlockwise twist, to split this thread you need to spin the bobbin clockwise. There may be more.

When to put twist in?
When you “post” upright wings it will take fewer wraps than untwisted thread.
When making a rib from thread, you won’t see a flat wrap.

For a left handed tyer it does the opposite, it takes the twist out of the thread, with some threads this can weaken it.

There is also two types of thread, BONDED and UNBONDED, bonded thread (i.e. Uni-Thread) will not lay flat but still suffers from the effects of twist. Also bonded thread will not split so you cannot use it for split thread dubbing technique, MP Magic tool techniques etc.

 

Brandlin’

Alan Bithell has already contributed several treats on TLC and on today’s wormy menu we have another yummy:

brandling |ˈbrandliNG|
noun
a red earthworm that has rings of a brighter color, often found in manure, and used as bait by anglers and in composting kitchen waste.
[Eisenia fetida, family Lumbricidae.]
ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from brand + -ling.

Odor
When roughly handled, an Eisenia fetida exudes a pungent liquid, thus the specific name foetida meaning foul-smelling. This is presumably an antipredator adaptation.

and here’s the beast but the best news is this one catches a lot of fish because just about every fish loves to eat worms and maybe more importantly, this one doesn’t exude anything, not even stink…

Brandlin' 1

lead foil being optional, apart from the hook and thread, there’s only two ingredients:

Brandlin' 2rubber stretch skin and a protective finishing coat of your preference.

as noted in the text, the only challenge here is getting the stretch skin’s tension right. play around with this a little and it’ll be spot on in no time. besides, if it doesn’t look right, simply unwind and try again.
click either image for the complete article on Alan’s site Crackaig Flies, enjoy !

Fly Tying- Everything you’ve always wanted to know about Organza

Get your Ojo working by Nick Thomas via Eat Sleep Fish

Ojo 1
the title basically says it all. Nick’s most excellent and comprehensive tutorial includes preparation of the organza strips, Ojo 2to mixing different coloured strips, to detailed sbs’s of three different patterns with plenty of tips and tricks along the way, to ideas on combining this material with others, to etc, etc, etc.
this is Ojo’d Organzan bliss.

click either image to access the complete article on Pete Tyjas’ Eat Sleep Fish, one the nicest, most unpretentious online fly fishing mags there is. enjoy !
austin-powers-cocktail-glass-4900072

Black Beaver and Cock

‘A fly no angler should be without is a small black midge. Summer or winter you will always find them on the water, and so will Mr. Trout.
The beauty of midge patterns is that they don’t need to be complicated, a bit of dubbing and a hackle is all that’s needed.
Stick one on anytime you can’t see what the fish are taking, chances are it’ll work.’

black beaver & cock

and i couldn’t agree more with Dennis Shaw. these sweet little simple to tie and unpretentious things do good and do good really good.
at first it might seem like a spider but it isn’t. the cock hackle keeps this pattern in the surface film with the body/hook-bend hanging down and the whole thing’s appearance when fished looks similar to an open umbrella in the same manner as emerging midges do when trying to break through the water’s surface tension.

the bug above is on a straight shank size 20 hook but on bigger patterns i’ve found great success using light wire grub style hooks. when sitting in the film, real midges are are twisting and turning so i guess the curved hook reproduces this profile a little more realistically. with teeny-tiny hooks my thought is the hook bend itself reproduces this curved body but then, once again, that’s just a guess.

a very sweet and just as effective just-under-the-surface variant to Denis’s Black Midge would be to replace the cock hackle by just a turn and a half of hen hackle and fish this spider on a degreased dropper attached to the bend of the hook of the dry. a double treat !

click the image above for the materials list and complete sbs on UKFlyDressing and be sure to check out their homepage for hundreds of other groovy flies. enjoy !

as a reminder, Dennis Shaw is the author of the seminal A Complete Dubbing Techniques Tutorial. if you haven’t seen this yet you’re in for a real and unique treat.

Roy’s Flat Spent Mayfly Spinner

yet another lovely-lovely bug and step-by-step by Roy Christie

flatspentspinner R. Christie

“This is another cabin-fever fly, the result of sitting down with a notepad, drawing what we want the trout to see; then building it in a useable form.
This and many of my other working flies come from this process.
Concept flies may eventually become working reality.
This fly will always land gently, right side up and can be easily presented on a sunk tippet.
Build it from materials chosen to match your local fall of spinners.
The fly is built on a curved hook of your choosing, which is cranked about twenty degrees toward the tyer, a quarter way back from the eye. It is dressed round the bend to get the tails to support the weight of the hook shank over the greatest possible area, so it can be dressed sparsely.”
very astute thoughts there showing us what creative and effective fly design is all about: studying the naturals, the prey, how the imitation should ‘behave’ upon presentation and do its job of enticing that prey.
a fly designed to catch fish, not inspired by what other tiers have done but one inspired by trout.

to access the step-by-step and learn how to tie this little cutie click the image.
for more of Roy’s flies previously posted on the Cobra click here. enjoy !

Fly Tying- Setting Hair Wings

by Roger Lowe via Brookings’ Anglers

unfortunately, this video suffers of poor image quality but the very clear, concise and extremely well explained and pleasantly twangy instructions on this technique more than make up for the constant blur.
the tutorial is based on the infamous Royal Wulff patern but the same winging technique will do the do for a whole host of other flies from the more traditional types such as the Catskill school to more contemporary floating patterns such as this little Honey that’s caught me so many fish. Honey has a synthetic wing but the tying process is basically the same.
explore, experiment but mostly, enjoy !

Fly Tying- How to apply dubbing

clear, concise with all the finer details, Hans Stephenson‘s basic dubbing application tutorial is primarily geared towards the beginners in fly tying but a lot of ‘seasoned veterans’ might just pick up a thing or two as well.
although the dubbing material used in the vid seems to be of the ‘super-easy to apply’ type, note that this method will tame the more difficult materials such as adult seal fur, just to name a what-can-be toughy. enjoy !

for the most complete of all completest dubbing tutorials be sure to check out previously posted Fly Tying: A Complete Dubbing Techniques Tutorial by Dennis Shaw whom i’d like to take the occasion to thank again for sharing such an amazing work with us.

Trout Fly Design: The Avon Special step by step

you may remember this little Avon Special beauty from a while back: one of Roy Christie’s signature upside-down, reversed mayfly emerger patterns.
avonspecialat the time we where treated to a lovely article based on this fly’s particular design and even though i still have a few that Roy had personally tied and offered me, what was sorely missing was a step-by-step but it turns out that there is one so, here goes my friends.
note that this emerger pattern sits on the surface film by only the hackle, the wing is used as a sighter for the fisher while the rest of the body is submerged, hook shank and eye angled down at a 45° angle. as such, apply floatant only to the hackle and wing and wet the abdomen to help it go subsurface on the first presentation. don’t forget to degrease the tippet !

avon14click either image for the complete sbs on FlyAnglers Online. enjoy !
avon22

Stripping Peacock Quills

as a sequel to Agitating the Barbules, today’s tying materials tips and tricks treat from Tim Flagler shows us how easy it is to strip peacock herls to get those easy to make, realistic and yummy segmented bodies for our flies.
when using the bleach method note the finer points to avoid under or over treating the herls and whichever method you choose, that further colouring is as simple as using permanent markers. awesome indeed, enjoy !

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about CDC feathers. (but where afraid to ask the guy at the fly shop)

by Hans Weilenmann via Martin Joergensen at GFF ‘Global Fly Fisher’

in what’s the most comprehensive description of what makes these feathers so unique, Hans’ Tying with CDC article is a must read for any fly tier.

calc_cdc-type1-drawing-384

“The description “Cul de Canard” was reputedly coined in the late 1950s by French tier Henry Bresson for one of his patterns. The description has contributed to some confusion, especially when it was literally translated into English as “duck’s butt” or “duck’s arse” feathers.
CDC’s history in fly tying and fly fishing begins in central Western Europe in the 1920s and the dry flies used by fishermen living in the Swiss Jura Mountains near the French border. These patterns, generally referred to as Moustique (Mosquito) patterns, remained unchanged until well into the late 1970s.”

(just to set things straight, the feather’s official name is Croupion de Canard or ‘duck’s rump’. Bresson’s somewhat clever-quirky sense of humour later turned the name of his famous fly into Cul de Canard or, ‘duck’s ass’: cul being a rather vulgar term (at least in those times) for those lovely globes we cherish so much)

calc_feather-2-3-584

historical and frenchytude niceties aside, the Understanding CDC chapter is where we get to the nitty gritty with such goodies as the four feather types, why applying floatant to them renders them useless, harvesting, tips and tricks and how to select the right feather for its intended use.
fly shops all-too-easily sell us any old sort of cdc feather even if they’re all from the preen gland they vary greatly in stem size (flexibility and strength), fibre position and length.  safe to say this explains why so many anglers sometimes have difficulties getting the results that seemed so simple at first.

cdc types H.Weilenmann-GFF

“Understanding CDC
While the natural oils on the feather assist in repelling water, the hydrophobic properties and the structure of the CDC feather are fundamental to its floatability.
Feathers are completely made up of the protein keratin. They are built to be as light as possible in order to make the bird fly easily, yet are extremely strong and waterproof at the same time. Keratin in many ways resembles manmade plastic. One aspect is that it does not soak up moisture, or indeed oil. The oil can only coat the feather parts, not become an internal part of it.”

click either image to access the complete article on GFF. included at the bottom of the page is a step-by-step and video tutorial of Hans’ notorious CDC and Elk. enjoy !

Copper wire and hare’s mask pupa

just to go out a little bit on a limb here and maybe mostly as a way of expressing my growing overall mehness at the view of so-called ‘realistic’ flies, specially the recent trend of ‘kit flies’, where wings, backs, legs, heads and whatnot are factory made and just applied on a hook by sheepishly following the manufacturer’s instructions…
today’s little gem by Roy Christie via Hans Weilenmann’s most excellent Fly Tier’s Page is a gentle yet humble slap in the face reminder that effective fly design is more about what the fish wants than what the tier wants. specially when that want is mostly geared towards getting a lot of likes on facebook…

copper_wire_hares_mask

Fly: Roy Christie, Photograph: Hans Weilenmann
Hook: #16 -18 wet
“Thread”: dark copper wire
Thorax: hare’s mask
Note: Take a pinch of hare’s mask guard hair. Dub it on a fine piece of dark copper wire. wrap wire along hook & finish.

first shown to me by Roy in situ on a wee burn in Northern Ireland a few years ago, outside of being an excellent trout tempter because it looks like an emerging mess which is what emerging pupae messes happen to look like, the other too-cool and charming aspect of this design is you simply carry a matchbox-sized container with some hooks, wire and dubbing on the water and make them as needed without any tools, which in turn gives us more time at home to spend pressing the ‘dislike’ button to realistic and kit fly posts on facebook instead of tying flies.

Roy'n Me weeburn 2010

Roy tells me the fly on the image is ages old so, if we squint a little when looking at it we’ll loose the ghastly barb’s details…

FREE AND NOT FOR PROFIT

via today’s just-pressed logo

this introduction note by Pete Tyjas caught my fancy as this topic goes hand in hand with the little 60 or so posts of the ‘brainwashem’ young’ series here on TLC designed to attract our younger friends to our passion. i can’t really figure out the ‘why’ aspect but i like the idea that each one of us does a little something once in a while to share fly fishing to someone else. sure, its quite possible we all might be eaten soon by zombies but on the other hand, we might defeat those ugly/stinking-sticky/disgusting creatures and get to continue on with our normal fly fishing lives. something tells me it’s probably worth doing.


” I’ve had some interesting conversations recently about the average age of fly anglers in the UK. It sounds like it comes in near to retirement age and has given cause for concern.

I have worked professionally in fly fishing for over ten years now and when I first started I am pretty sure these numbers were being quoted back then. Before this I have to be honest and say I had no idea.

It was a shock when I first heard this and it still is. Look at the scene in the US or Scandinavia for instance which seems to be booming. Fly fishing in these places is seen as cool, hip and trendy and works hand in hand with the whole “great outdoors” thing.

In the UK we generally don’t have access to big expanses of wilderness but we are lucky to have large areas of wild fishing where you might not see another angler. I count myself lucky to have one such example on my doorstep – Dartmoor.

Not everyone has though and it is where our reservoirs and put and take stillwater fisheries fill a gap. Small stillwaters also work well for the occasional angler who wants a few rainbows for the pot too.

But what of those of us whose lives revolve around fly fishing? We dream about it, tie flies when we can’t go, read books and enjoy magazines to fill the void. Are we a minority?

Not so long ago I was starting to think this but now I am not so sure. We have great schemes like Get Hooked which introduces youngsters to all forms of fishing, Mayfly in the classroom and numerous days run by the likes of the Environment Agency and Salmon and Trout Association. I wonder how many schemes like this were being run 30 years ago?

It seems to me that the dynamic has changed a little and there is a wide range of activities that parents take their children to. When I was younger I’d play football in the winter and cricket in the summer and do some fishing for carp too. That was about it. Nowadays, there are musical instrument lessons, horse riding, ballet, football, rugby amongst many other pastimes, along with tennis which also is enjoying a resurgence too. All along with the often-mentioned computer games.

Fishing has always been there in the background and sometimes the love for it is lost for a while and then rediscovered a little further down the line. It might be one of the reasons the average age of anglers is higher but since embarking on ESF I have met plenty of fly anglers in their 20s to 40s who fish hard, sleep in cars, chase the hatches and live for fly fishing.

It has left me far from despondent about the state of fly fishing and those entering it. We have to be honest and say it is a niche pastime but I have been greatly encouraged to see not one but two new TV shows featuring fly fishing in the last few months. One of those was on terrestrial TV too which is surely a positive. Kudos to TV execs for making such a bold choice.

So, we enter 2014 and I can’t wait to go fishing in the company of friends and hope I get the chance to bring more people into our great pastime.

Good fishing! “

Pete Tyjas


and that’s just the front page of this great online magazine. be sure to check out all the rest by clicking the logo above or HERE 

Increasing the Visibility of Dry Flies

most tiers don’t know this super-easy and super-efective tip so here goes.
as Lucian Vasies points out:
“A simple and very efficient method to increase the visibility for small CDC dry flies tied on #16-22 : adding a small bunch of white CDC barbs in front of the wing.
In certain cases I use yellow or pink instead of white, especially at sunset when the light and the shadows become metallic.”

this great tip has a double purpose: hatching insect wings may have colour tones, mostly striations but they’re mostly transparent so, what i also like about this method is when seen from below (always pretend you’re a fish !), the white ‘veil’ behind the main wing brings out the whole wing’s translucency: a realistic visual effect to the whole ensemble instead of an unnatural stark silhouette.

as suggested above, if we want to add different coloured veils to increase visibility in say, low-light conditions or when fishing a heavily-bubbled flow we can judiciously plan the wing colours to compliment each other.
it’s well worth the small effort and the fish will thank you for it.

one
2two
3

three !

4

click either image for the full step by step tutorial, enjoy !

‘whoever said a mayfly tail couldn’t be sexy was wrong.

Markus Hoffman hollow tailExtended Mayfly Quill Body by Markus Hoffman

i’ve seen a number of pre-made rubber hollow bodies aiming towards the same effect, but they where so ugly that using them felt more like an insult to fly tying but mostly to the fish.

and then comes Markus’ ever-creative mind that gives birth to this ingenious, simple, quick, realistic, transparent, lively looking, for-sure floating (because of all the trapped air when tied in) and just too friggin’ yummy mayfly abdomen for a fish to pass up.
by using the same pin and uv resin technique but using different sized and shaped pins and varying tail materials or not even placing a tail at all, under-body colours and rib materials we’ll end up with a whole range of delicious extended bodies to suit any hatching bug.
something tells me this  technique will be remembered and passed on for a while. simply brilliant, good on ya Markus. thanks !

Oh, you’ve got green eyes Oh, you’ve got blue eyes Oh, you’ve got shrimp eyes.

it’s New Wave and Shrimp Eye Day here in the south of France, so without further ado, to start off the festivities here’s a brilliant burnt-mono shrimp eye tutorial by Curtis Fry at Fly Fish Food.

“I’m sure most anyone has seen or has created their own monofilament eyes. It’s not rocket science, but there are still a few things I’ve found that make it easier yet keep a bit of realism in the mix.

mono_eyes Curtis Fry FFF

So for this method, you’ll need: ” to click the pic above for the complete materials list and awesome how-to video with some very interesting tips and tricks to make your own great looking shrimpy eyes.
keep in mind that mono-eyes can be used for streamers, damsel and other nymph imitations as well as for dry flies: the big and bulging adult mayfly eyes come to mind but that’s far from all. use the same technique and vary sizes and colours to suit.

as for the New Wave, i’m not really into this soft and sticky stuff but since it’s about Shrimp Eyes….  enjoy !

Lucian’s G – Nymph

by Lucian Vasies

my, that’s a pretty G !

G Nymph 1

i’d probably start blushing if asked which exact mayflies nymphs have gills like these,
contrasting-nymph-1but i have a hard time blushing  so it’s enough to say that some bugs have them and some bugs don’t. however,  these lovely G Flies most certainly have them and for the moment, that’s about all that matters. i guess.
todays step-by-step is a silent one and i like that. it makes us have to visually anchor the tying process by paying attention to all the little details and maybe best of all, transcends all languages. with demonstrations like this there’s no need for words. thanks Lucian.

G Nymph 2

can’t get enough…G Nymph 3

click either image for the complete step by step and materials list. enjoy !

How to Dress It and How to Use It.

not much to not like with a title like that..,
Salmon Fly-dressit, use it
but with topics such as: Underwater Experiments, The ‘Instrument of Satisfaction’ (my favourite !),  Diagnosis of Flies, Symmetry of Flies, The ‘Line-of-Pull’, Holding the Hook (tying these lovely flies by hand) and gorgeous plates like this, that it’s kinda turned into a love affair.

salmonflyhowtodr00kelsrich_0055
this one’s a really special find that i hope you’ll enjoy as much as i did. click either pic to access the complete 510 page book online on OpenLibrary or HERE to download it in pdf file or Kindle and other nifty ways to read it later when offline.

How to Tie Flies without saying a word.

from How to Tie Flies by E. C. Gregg, 1940

From How to Tie Flies, by E. C. Gregg, 1940

and if you think that’s cool and want more, click the pic to access the complete book on gutenberg.org. enjoy !

the Sunburst Spey

a steelhead/salmon fly tying tutorial by Davie McPhail

D MP sunburst spey (fly)

once in a while a fly comes along that has a special certain ‘oh my, that’s really yummy – slurp !’ effect and this little number does just that. whether it’s the color scheme, proportions, tying neatness or this or that or whatever it is; it’s hitting that special spot that says ‘any fish would be daft to refuse this’. enjoy !

D MP sunburst spey materials

more leg-knotting

we’d already seen different methods of knotting different materials with the goal of giving them the characteristic bent shape that just about every bug’s joints have:
– Knotting your legs by hand
 bend Ze legs and keep Zem bent
sexy legs simply

in this new how-to video, Davie McPhail shows us yet another method, this time using tweezers making it easier to make multiple knots on the same fiber(s) while leaving them on the feather’s quill. nice and handy for storage and easier later on to select the right size when at the tying bench. towards the end of the clip we’ll notice how he uses the same method but with mallard feathers instead of the usual pheasant tail.  hopefully this will inspire the creative tier to experiment with other materials. enjoy !

Once and Away

once_and_awayFly: Hans van Klinken, Photograph: Hans Weilenmann

” After a few attempts I decided on a tying a fly that I thought might be successful. It was with considerable interest that I tried it out. My confidence in it was established within the first few casts. In the same time as it had taken me to catch fish on the previous day I caught many more. I called the fly the “Once and Away”, since I had a great deal of difficulty in getting the pattern to float again after it had been dragged down by a fish. When I came home. I change the dressing to a better-looking and more durable pattern. To find a reasonable solution was not at all easy and drove me almost crazy. Finely after three months it was the thoughts behind the Rugged Caddis and Culard, which give me the answer. It is still funny to say and confess that just a simple cutting operation on the fly design cost me months to find out. Again I developed a pattern were CDC has been used against all rules. “

just goes to show that some rules are better bent…
here we have the origin of the ShuttleCock style of emergers from it’s creator, Hans Van Klinken of ‘KlinkHammer’ fame (and many more). featured along with the complete step-by-step of the original pattern is the story behind this most excellent fly and its design. great inspiring stuff indeed ! (and a reminder that duck roadkill should never be ignored)

click the pic for the full tutorial on Hans Weilenmann’s excellent site Flytier’s Page, enjoy !

fly tying step-by-steps: the Failed/Emerging Buzzer

failed buzzer1

by Alan Bithell

“This isn’t a pattern of my own invention. Many years ago Alan Roe arrived home from work late. On looking in the refrigerator for something to eat he saw a box containing 4 packs of Birds Eye Cod in Parsley Sauce. Grabbing it he put two in the microwave for dinner. Between the packs he found a sheet of thin foam packing material. After his dinner he sat for a couple of hours thinking that there must be a fly tying application for this foam sheet. This pattern is what he came up with.”

thank goodness for supermarket food !
in what has to be a sure-fire, hard-core fish-slurping fly, what makes this one stand out is the wing material. standard, thin sheeted transparent foam sure looks the deal at the vice but a) doesn’t float for long and b) gets torn to shreds after just a few fish, usually one. Tyvek on the other hand, has a strengthening backing, keeps its transparency and alleviates all the problems mentioned above. the creative tier will find all sorts of uses for this: wing cases, streamer bodies, shucks and indicators just to name a few.

nice way to tie it on !

failed buzzer2to start your own wrapping click either image for the complete step-by-step, materials list and source. enjoy !

Fishification through Fire (or how to burn your balls and catch more fish)

(ermmm… balls as in beads, bead heads, bead heads for sinking flies)
from Akos Szmutni 

as every fish knows, bluish-black is the new gold so we might as well listen to them for a change. in just a few minutes you can easily transform all those worthless gold balls into sure-fire fish-catching tidbits by following Akos’ ingeniously simple step by step and all this by using every angler’s second favorite element: FIRE !
akos20a

“Talking to a couple of experienced fisherman it seems like goldheads on nymphs are more or less out of fashion. Not the we wouldn’t like them anymore but the fish somehow seem to lose interest in them. I think fish learn on a number of ways: genetic transmission, experience and communicating with each other. Somehow even freshly stocked fish are disinterested in goldheads on a number of rivers, especially if they are clean and fishing pressure is high.

This wouldn’t be such a big problem, as we can buy black, copper, silver (haven’t had much success with that), orange and other heads. But if you like to buy flytying stuff in bigger quantities you can end up in a situation like I did, having hundreds of gold coloured tungsten heads that you don’t really believe in anymore. Additionally I lose very few flies while fishing (maybe I just don’t fish enough) and you can imagine that this can be nerving.

But I found an OK way to solve the problem: you can burn the gold heads to black! The only thing you will need is a long needle, bodkin or similar, a lighter and a bowl with water. Put the gold heads on the bodkin, burn them with the lighter until the paint/coating starts to peel off. Drop them in the water. Most of the cover will fall off by itself, the rest could be easily scratched away. What you will get is a nice blueish black colour. Looks very fish-catching to me and in fact it is.

Be careful: I have no idea what poisonous fumes can generate so do this outdoors. Protect your hands and eyes.

Cheers,
Ákos “

from dead uglyakos20c1. You will need water to cool the tungsten heads.
2. Put them on a needle.
3. Burn! Won’t work if it is windy.
5. You will end up with this bluish colour.
dead sexy !akos20d

just the other day i was trying to figure out how to ‘rough-up’/scratch/sand-off some bead heads and this came along. thanks mate !

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Fly Tying Tips and Tricks: Working with Marabou

in another fantabulous tying tutorial from Dennis Shaw at UKFlyDressing, this time we venture into the soft and fluffy world of Marabou feathers with some invaluable tips on getting the most from this lively and versatile material. Workingwithmarabou

” There are basically two ways to tie in marabou for wings and tails. Below I will show you both ways. I have shown them for tails, but the process is exactly the same for tying in wings. I’ll leave it to you to decide which one you use. ” Workingwithmarabou-16little technique details that make a big difference.

click either image for the complete tutorial. enjoy !

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Fly tying step-bysteps: Harelug & Plover, Stewart-style

by Roy Christie via UKFlyDressing

Origin of LUG
Middle English luggen to pull by the hair or ear, drag, probably of Scandinavian origin; akin to Norwegian lugga to pull by the hair. “Tiny pinch of dark fur from root of hare’s ear”

Plovers (/ˈplʌvər/ or /ˈplvər/) are a widely distributed group of wading birds belonging to the subfamily Charadriinae.
“Golden plover hackle, long enough of fiber to reach almost into the bend, NO longer, long enough to reach the barb is fine.”
The plover group of birds has a distraction display subcategorized as false brooding, pretending to change position, to sit on an imaginary nest site…

ringed-plover-38674

“This fly is tied here – NOT in the traditional collar hackled version, but Stewart Spider style, it is my preferred spider construction for action and durability.”

by Stewart-style we’ll take the example of his notorious Black Spider where instead of tight wraps of the hackle against the hook eye (collared), the same amount of wraps (and therefore volume) is distributed over a longer section of the hook shank. fish find this sexier.
the tier unfamiliar with traditional UK patters should take note that the wax used is cobbler’s wax which is usually black or brown and not the ‘average’ light-beige or clear wax typically found in the tying section of your local shop. as you might guess, this tints the tying thread in a more irregular buggy tone difficult to achieve with straight store-bought silks and threads. more sexy.

Harelug & Plover 1 - R. Christieat over two hundred years old and as productive now as ever this fly is well worth having in different sizes as a staple in any trout box.
it’s construction is pretty straightforward but be sure to click either fly’s pic to access Roy’s step-by-step for all the fine details.

Harelug & Plover 2 - R. Chrisie

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Fly Tying Step-by-Step Tutorial: Marc Petitjean’s CDC Nymph

a real gem for us today from Barry Ord Clarke’s site The Feather Bender. tied by Marc, photographed by Barry, that’s a team that’s hard to beat.

” When Marc began tying nymphs with CdC ( nearly 20 years ago) many prominent anglers thought it was a joke! and that CdC was not a suitable material for nymphs, oh how time has proved them wrong. “

this quote brings a little smirk because however much these feathers may be interesting i’m a firm believer that they work best underwater rather than above. if you’re not convinced try taking some feathers or better yet a cdc dry fly and get it wet by gently rubbing it between your fingers under water and watch it in say, a glass of water. if you didn’t squeeze it too tight there will be air bubbles trapped in the fibers and the rest will pulse in a very attractive manner, imitating legs, wings, antennae or the insect’s veiling shuck. all strong suggestions of life without having to resort to very ‘technical’ depictions/recreations of these elements by using a myriad of materials. brilliant !

this particular generalist pattern makes a great caddis imitation but a few tweaks here and there such as adding tails or reducing the body feathers to two or even just one for a slimmer profile turns it into an equally effective mayfly imitation.
as one might expect, the fly is tied using the range of Petitjean tools but don’t let that put you off if you don’t have them. spring clips can substitute the Magic Tool and a fly/electrician’s clip can be used to hold and twist the body hackles.

it starts off like so,MP CDC Nymph 1

and ends like this.
MP CDC Nymph 2

to discover everything in between click either image for the complete step-by-step.
enjoy !

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a dry and damp Culard

dryculard dry

“This is the Culard, another successful pattern from Hans van Klinken. It has been a hugely successful pattern for me, much more than the well known Klinkhammer Special and the Once and Away. I believe Hans designed the fly for fishing low water conditions on a river, and at that it certainly excels. It has also been a hugely successful stillwater fly for me, rarely letting me down. I normally fish it dry, but, in articles I’ve read it appears Hans also liked to fish it “damp”

from a frenchie’s point of view, this fly’s name is somewhat of an attention getter.
‘Cul’, as in ass, as in Cul de Canard as in CDC is rather well known to mean duck’s ass or in direct translation, ass of duck and for all intents and fly tying purposes, the feathers found surrounding that same derrière.
once the ‘ard’ suffix added, generally use to designate ‘someone who is’ whatever preceded it so, what we’re left with is, and to cut short on my piscatorially-pointless monologue, something like ‘someone who is an ass‘, truly one of the more interesting fly names ever… and now that that’s over please click either pic to access Dennis Shaw‘s most excellent step-by step tutorial for these two very fishy and generalist all around versions of this strangely named fellow over on UKFlyDressingenjoy !

damp
cullard weti’ll be taking these two for a swim in the next few days all over the UK. pics to come !

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too cool caddis larva

woW… some really nice out-of-the-box thinking here yielding a fantabulous result.
it’s not every day we get to have so much fun with basically a bare hook, glue and flames,

hmg caddis larva 1

make a horrid mess,
hmg caddis larva 2

and turn an ugly duckling into a beautiful caddis larva.hmg caddis larva 3click on either pic to access Ivan Randjelović Mixmaster’s  brilliant tutorial on musicarenje.net
enjoy !

note- i’ve never seen or heard of black hot melt glue and a quick net search doesn’t reveal much. maybe permanent markers will do the trick for the thorax region and legs.

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Two-For midge Saturday

two fresh-off-the-vise midge patterns from Davie McPhail for a stormy, windy yet lovely midge-filled spring day.
midge cloud

first, a very juicy F-fly midge.

side note: it is indeed a lovely fly but the only thing i can see here that vaguely resembles an F-fly is the cdc wing and that it’s mounted on a hook; something along the lines of all these ‘Pheasant Tail’ nymphs we see all over the place that are named as such because there’s pheasant tail fibers in the recipe, they’re also mounted on hooks and it’s a nymph but that’s as far as it goes if we compare them to Frank Sawyer’s original fly and in this case Marjin Fratnik’s famous F-fly… i’m not ranting, i’m just a stickler for names and word choice in general. on the other hand, i could be completely wrong and maybe Davie has simply named it F-fly in my honor…. :mrgreen:
side note two: the exact same pattern with a white wing and dark grey/black body will make a very nice Hawthorn fly/Bibio Marci  pattern and they’re about to come out to play soon.

and a Shuttlecock-style midge emerger.

of special interest here is the peacock herl body used straight off the stem. absolutely lovely and simple, just be sure to tie it in the right direction to get this great result. Davie’s explanation on the cdc wing at the end of this tutorial is a great example of fly design and it’s practical application going far beyond simplistic aesthetic consideration. an added bonus is it leaves us the possibility to customize it when on the water by simply snipping or tearing away either the tip or butt section.

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Creating a detached body mayfly

a super-sweet step-by-step by tutorial Barry Ord Clarke

cdc-may-fly BOC 1

we’ve already seen several variations of detached-bodied flies and here’s another simple to make version yielding adaptable, resistant and  gorgeous results.

extended cdc mayfly BOC 2
very well explained and photographed, what may at first seem a little daunting to the neophyte, “This is a simple but but effective mayfly pattern that fly tiers of any level can tie with a little practice. Once you have mastered this technique all you have to do is change the size and colour to match most mayfly hatches.

The chioce of colours and sizes of fly to be used when tying this pattern is determined by what mayfly you intend to imitate and under what conditions.  In still water fishing, trout can be extremly sellective when feeding on mayflies, they have good time to check them out before sucking them in.”

we’ll note that although this tutorial is intended for mayflies, the same basic technique enables us to create extended bodies for any other insect by simply changing or mixing colors, dubbing types, proportions, adding tails or not. we can even add legs in the same manner we’d place rubber or feather-fibre legs in between the dubbing wraps. the possibilities are pretty much endless.

on a personal note, i hope these step by steps will encourage tiers to delve back into the realm of  creating flies instead of assembling the increasingly popular ‘ikea-style’ fast-food flies from pre-made, paint-by-number kits. not only are they generally more realistic/enticing to the fish (as opposed to what the angler might think a bug looks like and behaves) but allow greater variances to fit one’s specific needs (matching the specific bugs where you fish instead of some bugs from the other side of the globe), they’re a whole heck of a lot cheaper and most importantly, increase the angler’s satisfaction of successfully creating something oneself worthy enough to trick our slimy friends.

click either pic to access this great tutorial. enjoy !

extended cdc mayfly BOC 3
Enter a caption

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Matuka !

matuka BOC 1 probably more fun than tying or fishing them, the greatest joy with this awesome streamer pattern is yelling

MAAAATUKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA !!!

at the top of your lungs when approaching a likely big-fish holding spot. this seemingly counter-intuitive act puts the bigger fish in a prime eating mode and also chases away any other angler for miles around. (nothing’s worse for good fishing mojo than say, having a casting instructor observing your style from behind a bush with the ensuing silent tsk, tsk critiquing). the unsuspecting angler may not see or hear anything but  as we all know, negative vibes are the real cause of tailing loops !

having a hard time finding out the actual creator of this pattern, i’ll go sheep-like and simply bleat that it’s origins originate in New Zealand (the land of sheeps) and was devised as a bait fish imitation to match well, the local baitfish.
matuka BOC wingsit’s particular shape comes from the use of two feathers, carefully prepared, trimmed to form and tied in back to back on top of the hook shank. that in itself doesn’t seem to be so unique as it apparently has been part of much older salmon patterns and we’ll also readily find flies of the same name tied in with a rabbit fur (or other similar fur strip) instead of  hackles so, what seems to me is the Matuka style can mostly be attributed to the fact that whatever the ‘wing’ is made of, it’s held in place by the rib starting by the back of the fly and wound towards the front.

anyway, in what is by far the prettiest, neatest and over-all yummiest version of this pattern i’ve ever seen, Monsieur Barry Ord Clarke shares with us a great step-by-step of this version with all of the finer points in making a not-only beautiful but successful fly worthy of presenting to a bigun‘.

as suggested, don’t hesitate to mix and match other materials to suit your needs and get ‘just the right profile’. one recommendation though, be anal with the feather preparation and symmetry as this greatly affects how the fly swims and tracks through the water.
click either pic to access the step-by-step. enjoy !

matuka BOC 2

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Serendipity

by Hans Weilenmann

serendipity_variant

serendipity |ˌserənˈdipitē|noun
the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way:  a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it.

hard to find a better way to describe today’s tying video. firstly, the fly itself is a great all-rounder that’ll open up the appetite of any bug-eating fish but the big woW for me is Hans’ tutorial.
there’s only two materials and with two less-than-minor tricks we’re shown and explained how to get such a gorgeous body and lovely head.
it’s all in the details…

and just to stay in the cool-find-groove, here’s Jeff Kennedy‘s version of this famous fly.
enjoy !
52_32 Serendipity

the Origami Wing

by Jens Pilgaard via flytying.dk

pretty huh ?
origami_wing_5

“This way of using the feathers own structure added another dimension into the final results by bringing natural curves and lines into my flies that I had never seen before. I was amazed by the similarity of the wings from real insects and the artificial ones made out of a single feather. Shortly after this I discovered, that this way of using the feathers gave me some unforeseen advantages that I could use, not only in my super realistic flies, but also in my fishing flies.”

origami_wing_3 fast, simple and gorgeous and all you need to make one is a feather, tweezers and a few fingers. as pointed out be sure to only use one feather per fly to avoid horrendous, frustrating tippet/leader twist whilst casting. paired wings may appeal to the angler but fish can’t count !

“Last but not least I find it very satisfying to be able to tie a fly that is beautiful as well as functional. It sorts of gives me a greater pleasure of performing my hobby whether it is sitting tying the flies or fishing with them on a nice and sunny day in June.”

in the end that’s what it’s all about. feeling good, confident and most of all having fun throughout the whole process of fly fishing with all it’s various elements. does it really matter in terms of fish-catching efficiency if a dry fly has realistic wings ? not really and there are innumerable successful patterns to prove this but, if the angler ‘believes’ in the fly, if it has that special mojo, then it magically catches more fish. that’s hardly scientific but catching more fish generally tends to bring more happiness to the angler and that’s scientific !

click on either pic to access the full step-by-step. enjoy !

Dry Fly hackle preparation

by Barry Ord Clarke

hackle prep 1 BOC

from a recently started ongoing series of fly tying tips and tricks for the beginning fly tier, today’s tutorial is a vital skill for any tier and maybe one that a lot of ‘confirmed’ tiers might want to review.
the reason i bring up that last point is throughout the years, whether in person or on countless online tying videos we’ll often see hackles tied in a ‘come whatever’ haphazard way. a well-meaning friend once told me “If you put it in sideways it’ll stay sideways… “ and this for sure applies to hackles as well !
a solid, secure and properly angled hackle will be so much easier to work with leaving a visually pleasant final result but more importantly, an overall higher effectiveness * of the hackle when it’s fishing.

hackle prep 2 BOC

* (ok, there are no absolutes but i’m referring to the traditional hackled dry fly as portrayed in the step-by-step following the hackle prep technique)

for more of this series be sure to check out Barry’s page The Feather Bender (what an appropriate name… 😉 ) and click either pic above for both the hackle prep and traditional dry fly step-by-step tutorials. enjoy !

Jim’s extended-body

by Jim Lees 

knowing Jim personally, ‘extended-body’ wouldn’t be the first thing i think of when thinking of him but that’s maybe the sign of a great fly dresser: always expect the unexpected !

jim & marc ifff 2011fishing buddies Marc and Jim at the IFFF 2011, Killyleagh, N. Ireland. (the guy in the back is holding up the pub)

“In most circumstances I’m not a huge fan of extended body flies but where I happily make an exception and where extended bodies really excel is with flies like the Daddy Long Legs or Danica Mayfly. With those flies you’re not sacrificing hook size or performance when you have the hook shank contain just the thorax of the fly.

extend_bod_10
So assuming you want extended bodies where do you go from there? Buy in or make your own?”

buying bodies. that just doesn’t sound right… better to go the Jim way by clicking the pic to access this great step by step tutorial.
once done, be sure to check out this post where Jim explains how to mount these sexy tubes. (somehow, that sounds a lot better)
enjoy !

pink…

“The question still abounds, ‘why do grayling love the colour pink?’ In the pink shrimp it’s fairly obvious, as our rivers do hold a number of these fresh water shrimps; however, it’s now a regular occurrence to see row after row of patterns in many angler’s fly boxes sporting patterns with pink bodies, pink thoraxes, pink ribs, etc.
One theory regularly discussed on the riverbank is whether the grayling (bottom feeders by default) think the pink, shiny shades resemble eggs. Another theory of course, is that this so called ‘Lady of the Stream’ is just that…a lady…and like her human counterparts (with their love for all things bags and shoes), she loves a bit of flashy bling! Of course, I couldn’t possibly comment on such a sexist theory! All I know is…pink works. ”
pink-shrimp-sbs-09

yeah, some things are better left unsaid… whether pink works or not  is neither here nor there for me because i’m simply not interested in catching a fish that goes that way… 😆

ok, kidding and silly guffawing aside, here’s a great step-by-step tutorial by buddy Gareth Lewis on making a heavy, bottom-dredging freshwater shrimp pattern that’ll work wonderfully with not only the horrid graylings but just about any insect-eating river fish (and some stillwaters) like trout, barbell, chub, carp and who knows what else.
simple, fast and easy to tie are prerequisites for this type of fly as dredging the bottom means hanging up on a regular basis with it’s ensuing ritual ‘offering to the flow’… but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have all the necessary fish-seducing elements and trigger appeal as they’re tumbling along the bottom of the stream and these have just that. by varying a few materials you can use the same  tying method and end up with beauties like these.

click the pink thing or HERE to access Gareth’s excellent step-by-step, enjoy !

CrabWips

by Matthew Cousineau

not usually attracted to digitally reworked images, Matthews’s ‘paintings’ leave a strong deep-dark mysterious and appealing aftertaste. his flies are alive, beautiful and they mean business. they tell their own story while complementing the originals.
i like this and i like it a lot.

crabwips cousineau

in the film below we’ll see sort of a visual step-by-step of how the image was created. not being bored by any technical details we can just go along for the ride and enjoy it’s various transformations in the same manner as a timelapse film of a blooming flower.

be sure to click the image or the following link to access Matthew’s page Custom Fly Art  for more beauties.  enjoy !

Fly Tying: A Complete Dubbing Techniques Tutorial

 


by Dennis Shaw

here, ladies and gents is simply put, the absolute reference in dubbing techniques.

still in awe after reading and studying this tutorial back in August 2009 on Dennis’ site UK Fly Dressing Forum, it’s one i keep going back to both for guidance and inspiration.
a lot more than just a ‘how to’, among other goodies we’ll also learn about preparing various dubbings, the pros and cons of using wax and what materials might suit some flies better than others.
as pointed out several times throughout the page, the author’s hope is that it inspires your fly tying imagination. it most definitely worked for me in my own development and i couldn’t be more grateful for this very generous gift.

adding any more on my behalf would be superfluous, so with Dennis’ kind permission, here’s the complete tutorial reproduced in full. enjoy !

note- the UKFD site has since been shut down, an enormous loss for the fly tying world.


A Complete Dubbing Techniques Tutorial

All instructions assume right-handed tyers

Introduction

It’s been a while in the making, but at last here is the all new “dubbing techniques” I promised a while back.
My initial thoughts when re-doing this was to simply add better quality pictures, but as you’ll see as you read on, what started as a simple “fix” turned into a complete re-do. All new photographs and text and it sort of grew a little on the old one with new sections added and more details included. There are no videos this time. They were hugely time-consuming to prepare and upload and the results were, for me, less than satisfactory.
Hopefully with the help of what follows and a little practice you’ll be able to utilise a variety of techniques to suit your own needs, and best of all, you’ll soon realise that the various dubbing techniques are actually very easy techniques to master.
What follows are a list of the most common techniques (and a few ideas for when you feel more confident) and how I use them. There are other techniques and other tyers will have their “own way” of doing things, with practice and research and by listening to others, you will soon develop your “own way.” I don’t profess to be an expert, so take what you will from this article and use it and adapt it to your own needs.

Let’s start with a few tips to help you…

Wash your hands before you start tying. Dirty hands will discolour dubbing.

If you have very dry or chapped hands you may find dubbing difficult, the “cure” is very simple, regular applications of hand cream. Believe me when I say this will make a huge difference, not only to the dubbing process, but also to many other areas of your tying. I suffered from dry, chapped hands for many years until I started using hand creams to replace lost moisture in my hands. I now use hand cream two or three times daily and the difference it has made is astounding!

When dubbing less is better! You will be surprised at just how far a tiny spec of dubbing will go, and in most cases how much better, more translucent and life-like your flies will look.

In the following posts I have concentrated on the techniques, one aspect of dubbing which I haven’t touched on is the effects achieved by using different threads and under-bodies. When you start using the techniques try using threads to compliment or contrast with the colour of the dubbing to see how much they can affect the final outcome. Also try different under-bodies. For instance, try dubbing a body over a dark thread under-body, then do it again with a tinsel under-body. You will be surprised at how much a simple thing, like the colour of the thread, can affect the final outcome.

Most of the terminology used in the following threads are self explanatory, but just to clarify and avoid confusion here are a few regularly used ones..

Dubbing medium– This simply means whatever material is used for dubbing.
Staple length– Means the average length of the individual strands of dubbing.
Dubbing noodle** – Simply an amount of dubbing gently rolled or pulled into a small elongated wad of dubbing.
Dubbing rope** – What you have when you complete a split thread loop or dubbing loop. Dubbing ropes are also available pre-made in packets.
Work in the fingers (or hands)– Means to work the fibres in your fingers or in the palm of your hand by rolling and/or pushing the materials together and then tearing/pulling them apart repeatedly until you have achieved the desired effect.
Under-fur– The soft downy fur next to the skin. The under-fur on animals is usually a drab pale colour.
Guard-hair– The longer spikey hair. The guard hares are usually coloured, (especially towards the tips) these hairs are what give the animal its colour.

**Whilst doing some research for this article I discovered that there is some confusion as to what a “Dubbing Noodle” is, some people refer to a dubbing noodle to be what I call a dubbing rope. At the risk of opening up a debate on the subject, I believe my use of the terminology to be correct.

*edit*
When I started this article Seal’s Fur was a readily available dubbing, though not necessarily a “politically correct” one to use. It now looks though that a ban on the sale and/or use of seal products, including Seal’s Fur, is looking inevitable. I have kept the references to it and its uses in because it is still available for the moment, and hopefully you and I will still be able to use any stock we have!

OK, let’s get started…

Tools

The basic tools I use are shown below.
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From left to right they are…
1 – The most important tool of all, your hands!
2 – Velcro, used to “rough” up bodies. This one is simply the “hooked” side of a piece of Velcro glued onto a lollipop stick.
3 & 4 – Dubbing rakes. The brass one is from Ken Newton. The white one is the “Ceramiscrape” from Lawrence Waldren, I think the best dubbing rake available. You can also make one from an old hacksaw blade.
5 – Dubbing twister. Mainly used for twisting dubbing loops with very course materials.
6 – Dubbing Whorl. Used for spinning dubbing loops.
7 – Nit comb. Used in the preparation of various long fibered yarns and wools.

This second picture is a coffee grinder, used during preparation or blending.
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These are the main tools I use when using or preparing dubbing. Apart from the hands none are essential, but they do make life easier.

What can I use for dubbing?

There are literally thousands of commercially available dubbing materials and 100x’s that in materials you can utilize for a dubbing medium.

Below are a few selections, but these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Here we have a selection of commercially available synthetic or part sythetic dubbings.
Polypropylene, SLF, Spectrablend, Antron, Glister, Lite-Brite and Mohair with a bit of flash added.

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Here we have a selection of natural materials on the skin.
Snowshoe Rabbit, Mole, Fox Squirrel, Mink, Hare’s Mask. You can use virtually any animal fur as a dubbing medium.

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Here is a selection of fur taken from the skin.
The top row is three different blends of fur taken from a Hare’s mask. The darkest one on the right is the dark hair taken from near the tip of the ear.
The bottom row is Mole and Rabbit.

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This is a small selection of dyed and blended dubbings of my own. They are mainly a blend of Seals Fur, Rabbit, Antron and Hare.

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Not to forget Seals Fur. An important point to remember when buying seal’s fur is to buy baby Seal, some places sell adult seal. Adult seal is, quite simply, a pig to work with. Avoid it like the plague!

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Finally we have a selection of materials many wouldn’t normally associate with dubbing.
Mending Yarn, Wool, Egg Yarn, Sparkle Yarn and Zelon. All of these, and things like carpet yarn and a million other unusual items can be used as a dubbing medium. I will cover how to use these later in the post.

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What is pictured is only a tiny selection of what’s available. A look through the many step by steps will give you a fair idea of what dubbings are the preferred choice for particular styles/patterns of flies.

A bit about the properties of some dubbing materials.

There are so many different types of dubbing available that it would be impossible for me to show and explain them all.
So below is a resume of some ofmyfavourite dubbings and whatIuse them for. (Mainly)
It is not meant to be a comprehensive list or appraisal of the various dubbings available. Any brands or types or their uses mentioned are purely for reference, they are not necessarily my recommendations.
What I want you to take from the post is a basic understanding of some of the dubbings that I use and why. With experience you will develop your own favourites and when to use them.

When choosing your dubbing you have many choices, do you want a natural or synthetic dubbing, do you want the texture to be coarse, medium or fine, should the dubbing absorb water or not? At this point you’re probably thinking; Crikey! How do I know? Well it’s not as difficult to decide as you might think; it’s really just a process of elimination…

Natural or synthetic? This is probably the most difficult choice you will have to make, and one that only experience can really teach you. Personally I tend to err on the side of natural for wet flies and synthetic for dry flies. The main reasons for my choices are that natural materials tend to absorb water and I think they have a more life-like appearance on wet flies, though some of the synthetics dubbings available to us now come close to the appearance of natural dubbings, and are also an excellent choice. Most synthetics dubbings do not absorb water and many are lighter than water, so make a good choice for dry flies. There are many exceptions though, natural materials which come from water-borne animals such as beavers, seals and otters also make excellent dry fly dubbing. To add to the confusion, modern floatants such as Watershed, Dilly Wax and Gink are so good as to virtually eliminate any problems of water absorption! So this is one choice that only experience will teach you. It may even be down to simply choosing natural materials because you don’t like synthetics or vice-versa because you don’t want to use fur from a dead animal!
Fine, medium or coarse texture? Many things can affect your choice here. Do you want a tight or smooth body, if yes then generally this will easier to achieve with a fine textured dubbing. If no, you want a fuzzy body with little or no defined shape, then maybe a medium or coarse textured dubbing would be a better choice. Hook size can also affect your choice, if you’re tying very small flies for example, a fine textured dubbing would, generally, be a better choice.
Should it absorb water or not? If it’s a wet fly then a dubbing which absorbs water can be an advantage, once it is wet it may help the fly sink. If it doesn’t absorb water you may need to weight the fly to help it sink. If it’s a dry fly, a dubbing which absorbs water may be a disadvantage, so one that doesn’t absorb water may be a better choice.
So as you can see by a process of elimination you can make your choices a little easier. Though as stated above, with experience you will soon develop your own personal favourites to suit particular flies.

Let’s look at some commonly available examples, but remember these are just a few of my chosen favourites and are not meant as recommendations.

HARE’S MASK

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The picture above is a blend of hare’s mask fur taken from the cheeks of the mask. By choosing fur from different places on the hare’s mask you can get a range of colours from a pale fawn (as above), through ginger to dark grey. (Almost black)
The texture is fine to medium, depending on the part of the mask it came from.
I use hare’s mask for a variety of nymphs, wet and dry flies. It touch dubs well and you can also form a noodle with it for dubbing loops. It is also very easy to twist dub. You can alter the spikiness of hare by controlling the guard hare to underfur ratio. More guard hares = spikier dubbing.
This is a picture of the mask, as you can see there is a huge range of colours and textures.

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SQUIRREL

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The picture above is squirrel fur taken from the back of a red fox squirrel pelt. Squirrel is similar to hare’s fur, and as such can be used in the same situations as hare.

RABBIT

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Rabbit is another with similar properties to hare, and again, can be used in the same situations. The underfur is a little softer than hare’s and squirrel underfur. I tend to use rabbit more as a binding agent when blending coarser dubbing.

MOLE

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Mole is fine textured and short fibred with no guard hairs. This is a great fur to use for touch dubbing.

BEAVER

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This is dyed beaver underfur; a fine textured dubbing, great for forming slim bodies on dry flies.

MUSKRAT

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This is muskrat underfur. Similar in texture to beaver, and like beaver it can be used to make nice slim bodies on dry flies.

SEAL’S FUR

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Seal’s fur is a medium textured dubbing with a unique translucence and sheen. This is the dubbing (IMHO) to use on traditional style wet flies and on dry flies such as the Shipman’s Buzzer.

FLY-RITE

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Fly-rite is one of a plethora of fine textured synthetic dubbings available. It doesn’t absorb water and is also lighter than water, making it ideal for medium to small to tiny dry flies.

SPIRIT RIVER FINE AND DRY

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Another fine textured synthetic similar to Fly-rite above. There are so many of these types of dubbing available that it really is a case of “take your pick”

WCB FLYTING EASY DUB

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Another synthetic similar to the two above, but this one is a slightly coarser texture. This is good for medium to larger dry flies. It is also great for the dubbing noodle technique shown below.

ORVIS SPECTRABLEND

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Orvis Spectrablend is one of my favourite “all round” dubbings. On its own it makes great bodies on nymphs or dry flies, it is also great for blending with natural furs, such as hare’s mask, to add a little sparkle. According to Orvis it incorporates translucent and reflective trilobal Antron fibers to add sparkle to any fly.

SLF MASTER CLASS FINESSE BLEND

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This is another favourite of mine. SLF stands for Synthetic living fibre. I like to use it for bodies and thoraxes on small buzzers and as a substitute for seal’s fur on small wet flies. It is also good on medium to small dry flies.

HARELINE DUBBIN, INC ICE DUB

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Ice dub is a medium textured sparkly dubbing, great for blending with natural dubbings such as hare’s mask to add a little bit of sparkle, or on its own it can be used to add a “hot spot” to any fly.

VENIARDS GLISTER DUBBING

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Glister is a medium to coarse textured sparkly dubbing. Like ice dubbing this can be blended with natural dubbings to give an extra sparkle to them, or used on its own to add “hot spots”

As I said at the beginning of this post these are just a few of my favourite dubbing. There are literally hundreds more to choose from, available in a huge variety of colours and textures.
In time you will find your own favourites and their uses, but until then, hopefully the above will help you to make your choices a little less haphazardly!

Preparing Dubbing.

There are various ways of preparing your dubbing. Below I have outlined some of the most common methods. I am only showing you how to prepare them here and a few examples of flies tied with the prepared dubbing. Their application is shown in separate step by steps.

Natural Furs.
The main technique for harvesting natural fur is by using a dubbing rake. There are many dubbing rakes available ready made. You can also make one yourself using a hacksaw blade attached to a piece of Dowling, or similar. I personally use commercially available ones. My weapon of choice being the “Ceramiscrape” made by Lawrence Waldron.

Pictured here are a Stonefly dubbing rake, a Ken Newton dubbing rake and the “Ceramiscrape.” The first two do the job very well, the “Ceramiscrape” is, in my opinion, exceptional.

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Using a dubbing rake is a simple process.

Simply draw the rake (under pressure) across the fur, following the direction that the fur lays.
I have shown you here on a Fox Squirrel skin, but the process is the same on all skins.

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After two or three draws you will have a decent amount of ready mixed dubbing.

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Here in close up you can see the blend of underfur and spikey guard hairs achieved.

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This is mole using the same technique.

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If you don’t have a dubbing rake, another technique you can use on mole is to scrape a razor blade over the fur. Razor blades are sharp, exercise extreme caution when using!

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The result

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Seal’s Fur dubbing almost always come ready to use, but in some cases the staple length of the fur is too long.

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The “fix” is simply a case of tearing it a few times between your fingers.

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You will then be left with a more manageable medium.

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Other dubbing mediums

Wool

As well as normal dubbing mediums such as animal furs and purpose made synthetic dubbing you can also use a range of mediums found in the average flytying kit and/or sewing/knitting box.
Most of these mediums will need some simple preparation before you can use them.
One of the most common items available is wool. It comes in a variety of colours, is cheap and easy to use.

To prepare the wool you will need the following. A fine toothed comb and a pair of scissors.
The comb shown is a nit comb I purchased from Boots for this job.

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Now simply comb the wool to separate the strands. Do a small section at a time, if you try to do too much it will get stuck.

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Once you’ve combed it a few times it will look like this.

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Remove it from the comb.

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Then cut it in to short to medium lengths.

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Finally, work it a little in your fingers and it’s ready to use.

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Whilst combing some of the fibres will stick in the comb.

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Pull these out and work in your fingers as well.

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Shown here is a fly dubbed with a body of black wool prepared using the technique shown.

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You can also use the same technique on other mediums as well.

Shown here is a trainer shoe lace prepared in the same way.

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Here is one tied with the prepared shoe lace used as the dubbing.

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You can also use mediums such as floss and mending yarn. These don’t need combed. Simply cut into short to medium, varying lengths, then after working a little in your fingers they are ready to use.

Floss.

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A fly tied with a dubbed floss body.

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Mending Yarn.

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A fly tied with a dubbed mending yarn body.

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Z-Lon.

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A fly tied with a body of touch dubbed Z-Lon.

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As you can see the materials you can use are almost limitless. By using the simple techniques shown here you can turn almost any medium into a usable dubbing.

Blending

Blending is a technique you can use to mix different colours and textures of dubbing.
Blending is also a useful technique to use if you have a dubbing which is too coarse to dub on its own. By adding a suitable dubbing, as a binding agent, such as rabbit you can turn an unusable dubbing into a usable dubbing.
Most of the dubbing blends here contain adult seal’s fur which is almost impossible to dub on its own, but by adding some rabbit and other materials, I made a perfectly usable dubbing with a nice mix of textures.

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There are various ways of blending. If you have large amounts of dubbing to blend it’s best done mixed with warm water in a food processor/blender.
For most of us though we are only blending small amounts.
For blending small amounts of dubbing, enough for just a few flies, hand blending is perfectly adequate.
Hand blending is simply a case of working the fibres together then pulling them apart several times in your hands.

Here I am blending Red, yellow and natural Seal’s fur.

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I work them together and pull apart repeatedly with my fingers.

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In a short time I have a nice blended dubbing ready for use.

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For larger amounts of dubbing a great tool is an electric coffee grinder. These make great dubbing blender.

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A point to remember with coffee grinders is that they do not cut the dubbing, so if the staple length of the dubbing is too long, you will have tear or cut it to more manageable lengths before you blend it.

Here I have the same colours of Seal’s Fur that I have just hand blended.

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Pop the lid on and give it a whizz.

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And it will turn it into a nicely blended dubbing.

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As shown on this fly here.

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Here I have added some Hare’s mask and Flash-Brite to the original mix.

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After a whizz.

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A fly with the resultant mix.

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A different blend of colours of the same materials.

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Whizz, and..

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A fly with the new blend.

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Finally here is a blend of Muskrat underfur and roughly chopped CDC fibres.

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After a whizz.

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And the fly tied with the mix.

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I could go on showing you an innumerable amount of possibilities, but hopefully I’ve given you enough for your imagination to run riot or at least a good grounding of the principles involved.

WAX

Where dubbing is concerned this is a contentious issue!

There are many tyers who swear by wax and there are many who think wax is unnecessary. I am firmly in the unnecessary camp.
If you wish to use wax or think that wax will make dubbing easier then use it. This is just my opinion, it is not set in stone. If you are unsure, listen to what I and others have to say then experiment your self and come to your own conclusions.
There are two reasons I don’t wax. The first is it is simply unnecessary. In the picture below I have dubbed, from left to right, Squirrel, Seals Fur, Orvis Spectrablend, Flash Bright and Glister. All without wax and onto copper wire. Proof, I think, that wax is unnecessary.

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The reason that wax is unnecessary is that when you apply dubbing to the thread you are only using the thread as a convenient core for the dubbing noodle. The dubbing is simply a mish-mash of tangled fibres held together by its self and around a central core. It does not stick to the thread. You can see what I mean in this close up from the picture above.

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If you use wax you may find it easier to get the material onto the thread, but you are only using a work around for bad technique. Surely it is better to master good technique!

By using wax you also lose the second reason I don’t use wax… control.
When I apply dubbing to the thread I can control, by sliding, where I want it.

Here I have dubbed some Hare’s Ear to the thread, as you can see there is a gap between the dubbing and the hook. If I had waxed the thread first I would have had to make two or three turns of thread before I started forming the dubbed body.

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Because I have not used wax I can now position the dubbing where I want it, by simply sliding it up the thread core.

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This means that from the very first turn of thread I will be forming the dubbed body.

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As I said at the beginning if you want to use wax or think that wax is necessary then use it. I am only offering my opinion on the subject along with the reasons why I have come to these conclusions.

Twist (Direct) Dubbing

Ok, you now (hopefully) have a good idea of what you can use and how to prepare it. So it’s time to learn how to apply it.
The first technique I’m going to show you is the simple twist dub, sometimes called Direct dubbing. This is probably the most common technique and the one you will undoubtedly use the most. I have shown the technique here using seal’s fur, the technique is the same no matter what medium you use.
I have highlighted a few words and phrases, pay particular attention to them.

Let’s just remind you of how you prepare it first.
Remember that this preparation is only necessary for dubbing with a long staple length. On dubbing such as hare’s ear you can omit this step.

Take a pinch of dubbing.

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Then repeatedly push it together and pull/tear it apart to work the fibres into more manageable lengths.

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You’re now ready to apply to the thread. Two things to remember here are “less is better” and “little and often!”
“Less is better?” Most beginners and many experienced tyers use too much dubbing. Try not to fall into that trap by using much less than you think you’ll need. You will be surprised at how far a tiny pinch of dubbing will go.
“Little and often?” It is easier to add more dubbing than it is to remove excess. With experience you can usually judge how much you need, but to begin with it is better to use less.

Right, let’s get some fur round that thread!
To get the dubbing round the thread core we have to twist it round the thread. You can twist it clockwise or anticlockwise, the choice is yours. I twist clockwise which is shown in the instructions. If you prefer to twist anticlockwise, the instructions are exactly the same, the only difference being the direction of the twist.
Only ever twist the dubbing in one direction. Do not twist it back and forwards!
Take a small pinch of your prepared dubbing. Offer it up to the thread between your index finger and thumb. Then push your thumb forward (to the left as shown) and at the same time draw your finger back. (To the right as shown) This will cause the dubbing to twist round the thread core between your finger and thumb.

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At the same time as you are twisting the dubbing you need to apply pressure between your finger and thumb, meaning you squeeze and twist at the same time.

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Repeat these motions several times until you are happy with the resulting dubbed thread. You can let go at any time to check. Also at any time you can twist the dubbing to tighten it. By varying the amount of pressure you can dramatically alter the finished effect, which is something you will learn with experience. To begin with you can apply too little pressure, but you can’t apply too much! Too little pressure is a very common fault with beginners.

Done correctly you will be left with something like this.

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As you can see I have only used a little here. Not enough to cover the whole body, but it is easy to add a little more if necessary.

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Now start wrapping to form the body. You will notice that I have slid the dubbing up the thread so that the body is being formed from the very first turn.

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It’s now simply a case of wrapping towards the hook eye to form the completed body. Notice that there is a gap between the end of the body and the hook eye. If this was a fly I was tying I could now add another small pinch of dubbing to complete the body. Much easier than using too much and having to pinch it off.

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This is a simple fairly level body such as I would use on a Shipman’s Buzzer or similar fly.
As I mentioned earlier you can affect the final appearance by varying the amount of pressure you apply to the dubbing. Here I have applied much more pressure at the start of the dubbing than at the end. Of course, as you can see I’ve also added a little more dubbing at the end as well. The result of using one or both techniques is a tapered body. By varying the pressure and/or the amount of dubbing and its placement you can easily build a ready made taper into the body. Which technique or techniques you use or prefer is something you will learn with experience.

The tapered dubbing noodle.

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The effect.

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That is twist dubbing, a fairly simple process. By following the few simple guidelines above and with a little practice you will soon master this technique.
Pay particular attention to the pressure. As mentioned earlier, one of the most common mistakes beginners make is applying too little pressure when squeezing and twisting the dubbing.

The following are a few ideas for you to contemplate and, hopefully, find inspiration from.

Here I have wrapped a body of copper wire, then twist dubbed the wire with a little fiery brown seal’s fur and wrapped it back up as a rib.

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Here I have wrapped a yellow silk body and tied in a gold wire rib, then twist dubbed the wire with super fine dry fly dub before wrapping to form the rib.

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Finally this one is a body of black Orvis Spectrablend ribbed with oval gold tinsel twist dubbed with a little Peacock Spectrablend.

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TOUCH DUBBING

Touch dubbing is a versatile technique, most suited to mediums with a short staple length, mole being a classic example. Many other mediums can be used though, such as Hare’s Ear and Z-Lon (shown in the preparation posting)
Touch dubbing is the only technique I use wax on. There are several makes of wax suitable for touch dubbing, the one I use is BT’s Dubbing Wax, distributed by Veniards. As well as wax you can also use glue sticks, such as Pritt stick.
BT’s Dubbing Wax is supplied in two formulas, tacky for flies size 12 and smaller, and super tacky for flies size 10 and larger. I must admit I use super tacky almost all the time.

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When using dubbing wax you want a thin, even coating of wax on the thread. If your wax looks like this you will find it impossible.

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A tip I recently picked up is to simply wipe it on a post-it note to remove all the gunk.

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One you’ve done that you will find it easy to achieve an even coat.

To touch dub, apply a light even coat of wax to the thread. One or two wipes with the wax are all that is needed.

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Once coated, take your dubbing medium, in this case mole fur, and simply touch it against the waxed thread.

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A few fibres will stick to the wax.

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As you can see there are only a few fibres stuck to the thread in this example. When you wrap to form the body the thread will show through the dubbing.

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You can vary this effect by altering the amount of dubbing you allow to adhere to the wax. Here I’ve been heavier handed with the “touch”

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Which, when wrapped will give a fuller appearance to the resulting body.

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That’s all there is to it, a simple but very versatile technique, which with practice and experience you will be able to achieve whichever effect you want from the merest hint of dubbing to a full fat body.

Here are some variations on the theme again for inspiration.

Light hare’s mask touch dubbed on gold wire and wrapped as a rib.

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Green wire touch dubbed with olive hare’s ear blend and wrapped as a rib.

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Claret mole touch dubbed on an orange grizzle stripped hackle and wrapped to form the body.

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TWIST AND TOUCH

A variation on the touch dubbing theme is the twist and touch. Basically the same technique, but with a twist.

Apply wax to the thread as above and touch the waxed thread with the dubbing (I’ve used dyed claret mole here) but this time as you touch the dubbing against the waxed thread, twist the thread clockwise with your other hand.

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Continue doing this until you have the required amount of dubbing on the thread.

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Then when you wrap the dubbed thread you will see a different effect from the normal touch dubbed thread.

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As with the normal touch dubbing technique you can vary the amount of dubbing to influence the final outcome.

THE DUBBING LOOP

This is the traditional dubbing loop. It is a stronger dubbing loop than the split thread loop because you are effectively forming a loop of two threads thickness, as opposed to the split thread loop where you split a single thread. Its obvious advantage is its strength, making it ideal for coarser or bulkier dubbings. Its one real disadvantage is that because you are effectively doubling the thread thickness, bulk can become an issue, though in most situations the issue is very minor. After forming the loop the techniques involved in applying the dubbing are identical to the split thread loop.
For this technique you will need a dubbing whorl, shown here. This tool is used to spin the loop, doing the job the bobbin does in the split thread loop.

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To form the loop..

Wrap the thread to the mid point of the hook shank, then lengthen the amount of thread from the bobbin to the hook, take it round your finger(s) and back up to the hook.

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Then continue wrapping the thread down (to the left) the hook shank, trapping both legs of the loop as you go.

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When you reach the point where you want the dubbing loop to be, stop wrapping and take the loop in your other hand.

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Then take the working thread and wrap it once round the loop next to the hook shank. This closes the loop at the hook shank.

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Now attach the dubbing whorl to the loop and you’re ready to use the loop.

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At this point I normally hang one leg of the loop over the star wheel of my vice to keep it open, using the weight of the whorl to keep a tension on the loop. If you leave it to just hang it will invariable spin of its own accord, you will then have to unspin it. A minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience all the same and easily avoided.

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As said above, the techniques used to apply the dubbing to the dubbing loop are identical to the split thread loop.

Here I have applied seal’s fur to one leg of the loop.

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As before, remove your fingers and the loop closes.

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Now spin the dubbing whorl.

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And the dubbing rope is formed.

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Now wrap your dubbing rope to form the body. When you reach the end of the body tie the dubbing rope off the same as you would any other material.

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The body finished and the rope tied off.

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In this sequence I have inserted a small seals fur dubbing noodle into the loop.

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Then spun the whorl to form the dubbing rope.

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Finally, wrapping and tying off the rope.

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Some more ideas for you to mull over and amuse yourself with.

Here I tied in 3 peacock herls then twisted them round one leg of the loop and applied a pinch of peacock Orvis Spectrablend to the other leg. Then spun them and wrapped the resultant rope to form an interesting body.

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One final idea for you.

Here I have twist dubbed some fiery brown flash bright onto one leg and on the other leg I have twist dubbed black and orange seal’s fur.

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Then spun the loop to form the rope, and wrapped to form the body.

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Then a rub with Velcro, and..

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Split Thread Dubbing Loop

Firstly, apologies in advance. Due to the complexities involved in photographing some of the following sequences, some of the pictures are a little lower quality than I would have liked. But, until I can get a couple of extra pairs of arms they are the best I can do. Don’t worry though; they are clear enough to allow you to see everything.
Dubbing loops are the most versatile techniques you can have at your disposal. As you will hopefully see in this and the next three posts, the opportunities are almost endless. We’ll start with the split thread dubbing loop, this is, I think the most useful of the “loop” techniques. You can employ it to tie everything from large saltwater patterns all the way down to size 32 midges if you want. Its main advantages are that it’s quick and easy to perform, and it adds little if any bulk to the dressing. It doesn’t really have any disadvantages, the only thing you have to be aware of is that because you are splitting the thread it won’t be as strong as the traditional dubbing loop (shown in the next post) but, unless you are try to use coarse dubbing mediums, strength doesn’t really come in to it. Thread is not particularly strong and there is a limit to how much you spin it, it would be impossible for me to demonstrate just how far you can go, but with both the split thread and the traditional dubbing loops you will very quickly learn how much spin you can apply without breaking the thread.
Although the techniques employed to form the split thread and the traditional dubbing loop are different, once formed the techniques employed to apply the dubbing are the exact same for both loops.
Thread choice is important for the split thread dubbing techniques. Basically there are two types of thread, bonded and unbonded. Bonded threads are twisted and stuck together (for want of a better description) Unbonded thread is not stuck together. The bonded thread that springs to mind is UNI Thread, I’m sure there are others too. What this means is that because of the manufacturing process it is very difficult to split the thread. So for the spit thread loop it is best to use an unbonded thread. Typical unbonded threads are UTC, Benecchi, Roman Moser Power Silk, Gudebrod, (Gudebrod no longer make flytying threads, but there are plenty of places which still have stock left) Danville’s and Gordon Griffiths.
All of the above unbonded threads are suitable for the split thread loop. For reference I have used UTC70 in the following sequences.
Because you will need to flatten the thread to split it, it is important to know that all threads with the exception of Pearsall’s silks are spun clockwise. This means that to flatten them you will need to spin them anti-clockwise and when you spin the loop to form the dubbing rope you will need to spin them clockwise.

Below is a picture of bonded (on the left) and unbonded (on the right) threads. You can easily see which one is going to be the easiest to split.

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To form a split thread loop wrap a layer of thread to where you want the loop formed, then spin the bobbin anti-clockwise.

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If you’re lucky you will have a flat spot where the thread hangs off the hook. When to spot when you have spun the thread enough to take the twist out of it is something you will learn with very little practice. If you don’t get the flat spot next to the hook you can lay the tread, tensioned by the weight of the bobbin, across your index finger, then slide you finger up and down the thread a few times and you should be able to split the thread then.

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To split the thread take a dubbing needle or darning needle or similar and preferably one with a blunt point and insert it through the (roughly) middle of the thread. Don’t worry, it sounds difficult, but in reality with a little practice it is actually quite easy.

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You can see the split better here.

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Once you have split it, gently coax the thread loop open until you can get your finger(s) into it, then continue coaxing it open until you have a loop large enough to work with. If the loop sticks when you are opening it, try turning the bobbing anti-clockwise a few turns, this will usually sort the problem. Occasionally though you will encounter a spool of thread which doesn’t split well. In this case try a different spool of thread.

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That’s all there is to it.
You now have several choices on how you apply the dubbing.
The first technique here is to simply twist dub (See the twist dubbing post) the thread on one side of the loop.

Here I am twist dubbing some hare’s ear onto the thread. I am keeping the thread open with the fingers of my other hand.

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Once you have enough dubbing on the thread..

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Remove your fingers from the loop allowing the loop to close.

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Then pinch the loop immediately below the dubbed portion.

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Then with the loop pinched spin the bobbin holder clockwise.

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When you think it has spun enough stop and hold the bobbin holder, then let go of the loop. The twist will shoot up the loop twisting the dubbing and loop into a dubbing rope. If need be you can “force” the twist up the thread by holding the bobbin in one hand and gripping the thread at the end of the bobbin with the index finger and thumb of your other hand, then sliding your fingers up towards the dubbing rope will “force” the twist up. If you haven’t put enough twist into the thread, simply repeat the process until you have. Once done it should look something like this.

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Now it is a simple case of wrapping it to form the body. With practice you will learn how much dubbing to use so that the dubbing will run out exactly where you want it to.

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As with the other dubbing techniques, with practice, you will be able to affect the final outcome by varying the amount of dubbing you use.
Another technique you can employ is to insert a dubbing noodle into the loop. This dubbing noodle is slightly different to the one shown in the noodle dubbing post in so much as the noodle is formed completely in the hand.
To form the noodle take a pinch of dubbing, hare’s ear here.

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Then place it in the palm of your hand and using the index finger of your other hand gently roll it and work it…

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Until you have a loose noodle like this.

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Now form your split thread loop exactly as before and this time insert the noodle between the two threads of the loop.

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Then, as before withdraw your fingers to close the loop.

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Then grip the thread loop just below the dubbing noodle.

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Then spin the bobbin clockwise to form the dubbing rope.

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Finally wrapping as before to form the body.

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This next technique is great for forming legs or, in this case, a hair hackle.

Form your loop exactly as described above. Then take a pinch of guard hairs, I’ve taken these ones from a fox squirrel pelt, in a bulldog type clip.

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Then insert them into the loop. Once you have them in the loop, close and grip it, then release the guard hairs from the clip.

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Adjust them for length by gently pulling on either the tips, to make them longer, or the butts to shorten them. Then carefully trim the butts close to the thread.

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Then, again, exactly as above, grip the thread and spin the bobbin to form your dubbing rope.

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This time when you wrap the rope, stroke the fibres back (to the left) with each wrap of the rope.

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When you’ve done it should look something like this.

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So there you have three techniques you can employ with the split thread loop. There are a few variations, (which will appear in future step by steps) but these three are all that you will need to master the techniques involved.
You can use one, two or all three techniques in a great many flies.
Here is one example of a hare’s ear type nymph where I have twist dubbed the thread onto the loop to form the body. Then I’ve inserted a dubbing noodle into the loop for the thorax. Finally forming a hair hackle to finish the fly.

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Here’s one simple variation though for you.

Try dubbing both sides of the loop with different dubbing. To let you see the effect better here, I’ve dubbed one side with black beaver and the other side with white beaver.

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Spin the loop as above and it looks like this.

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And wrapped it looks like this.

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Here is a fly I’ve tied as above, but this time I’ve used olive and yellow beaver. The thorax was formed from a split thread loop with a noodle of olive hare’s ear blend inserted. The effect is subtle and, I think, attractive.

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If you want to get complicated you can combine the dubbing loop and split thread loop!

Here I have formed a dubbing loop then split one leg of the loop and inserted an orange and a black slf dubbing noodle into the split thread. Then I inserted a pearl ice dub dubbing noodle in the dubbing loop.

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Then gave it a spin for an interesting dubbing rope.

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Wrapped to form the body.

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Then a rub with Velcro for the resulting body.

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As you can see, once you’ve mastered the basic techniques involved you can let your imagination and creativity run wild.

NOT A LOOP

Hopefully what follows will provide you with some inspiration and encourage you to sometimes “think out of the box”
Most of what is here is a direct result of the inspiration I have received looking at the techniques subtly introduced to us in the many recipes and pictures of flies posted here (and elsewhere) by, among others, Hans Weilenmann
The following are variations on the dubbing loop technique that opens up a myriad of possibilities, only a few of which I’ve shown below. As with the techniques shown above the only real limit is your imagination.

Here I have inserted some natural seal’s fur between two plys of sparkle yarn. Then gripped the resultant “loop” in a pair of rotating hackle pliers.

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Then using the hackle pliers as a dubbing twister I’ve twisted it into a dubbing rope which I have wrapped to form, in this instance, the whole fly.

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The result when you add water is..

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Doesn’t really look much like a fly though! But notice I left a portion of the yarn at the head free of dubbing.
A quick wipe or two with a brown marker pen and, I think, a very passable sedge pupa appears.

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Here I have inserted a hare’s mask blend of dubbing between 4 strands of pheasant tail fibres.

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Then twisted them with my rotating hackle pliers.

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The result is an interesting fuzzy body.

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Finally one here using 1 strand of green copper wire and 1 strand of red copper wire with a clear Antron noodle inserted between them.

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Then twisted with the rotating pliers again.

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And wrapped to form a body.

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Finally a rub with Velcro.

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The effect when wet is interesting to say the least.

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Once again you can see some of the interesting results that are possible when you let your imagination run riot.
Have fun!

DUBBING NOODLE

This is a technique I rarely use, but it is a useful technique to have in your armoury. Its main use is for bodies on larger flies. This technique is only really suitable for dubbings mediums with a medium to long staple length. Mediums such as Hare’s Ear, Mole, Squirrel, Seal’s Fur, etc don’t really lend themselves to this technique.
For reference the dubbing I have used here is WCB flytying supplies “Easy Dub” a synthetic dubbing.

Wind the thread half way down the hook shank.

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Take a wad of dubbing and pull some out, then twist the end to a point.

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Then tie it in.

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Now place the dubbing next to the thread.

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Then pinch the dubbing and thread between your fingers. Don’t pinch too tight, you want the dubbing to feed from the wad as you wrap.

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Now start wrapping. With this technique you do not twist the dubbing onto the thread. Any twisting is imparted naturally during the wrapping process.

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Keep wrapping and feeding from the wad until you reach the tie-off point.

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Separate the thread from the dubbing and then tie in the end of the dubbing noodle.

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And that’s it, a quick and easy way to apply a larger amount of dubbing to the hook. It’s also much stronger than normal dubbing techniques.
I scrubbed this much harder than I normally would with a Velcro brush.

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Had I scrubbed the same material, twist dubbed, as hard I don’t think there would have been much left! But with this technique..

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A simple example of this techniques usefulness..

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THE DOUBLE LOOP

I swithered on whether to include this technique or not. It is a little used technique, but decided to include it anyway, if for no other reason than it’s here if you want it. This is the double loop, for use with very coarse dubbings. In this instance Deer hair dubbing. This one from Roman Moser is a blend of Deer hair and synthetic fibres. You can also use Deer hair cut from the hide if you like.

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As its name suggests this technique utilizes two loops. The obvious advantage is its strength. Its one disadvantage is bulk, though again, in reality it is a really minor disadvantage.
The dubbing whorl used for the dubbing loop is not up to the task for this technique, the sprung wire is not strong enough to tighten the spun rope tight enough. You need to use a different tool.
The dubbing twister.

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This tool differs from the dubbing whorl in that rather than spinning it to form the dubbing rope, you simply twist it with your fingers to form the rope.

To begin, wrap the thread to around the midpoint of the hook shank.

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Then start by forming a normal dubbing loop using the dubbing twister as an aid. Unlike the normal dubbing loop you do not take a turn of thread round the loop.

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Then wrap the thread towards the bend and over the legs of the dubbing loop.

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Once you have reached the bend, wrap the thread back up the body (to the right) for three or four turns.

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Then form a second loop. You need both loops to be the same length, so form the second loop using the dubbing twister to ensure both loops are the same length.

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Let’s take a little break here and go over how to form and use the double loop in a little more detail. Because of the difficulties of trying to photograph this one with the deer hair dubbing I’m using a synthetic dubbing noodle to simulate the dubbing. The noodle makes it much easier for me to photograph and it will also let you see things in more detail.

So here I’ve formed the first loop and this time I’ve taken the thread much further up the hook shank so that you can see the loops and how to use them easier.

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The second loop formed.

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As you can see here with the dubbing twister removed we have two separate loops. The dubbing will go between the two loops.

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Here the dubbing twister is back on and I’ve arrowed where the dubbing will be inserted.

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Here I’ve re-done the loops closer together and inserted the dubbing noodle.

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Before you twist the dubbing into a rope you have to take one turn of thread round both loops to pinch them together at the top.

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Next I’ve taken the thread up to the shoulder of the fly, where the body will be tied off.

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Make the first turn of the dubbing rope at an angle as shown so that your dubbed body starts at the end.

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Hopefully that’s made things a little clearer for you.
OK, break over, so now it’s back to the deer hair..

Once formed you can insert your dubbing material into the loop.

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Then take one turn of thread round the two loops to close them at the top, then twist the dubbing twister clockwise to begin forming the rope.

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Keep twisting until you have the formed rope.

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Then wrap the dubbing rope to form the body. Stroke the fibres back with each wrap of the rope.

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Then when you have the body formed tie the rope off.

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Then all you have to do is trim the hair to shape with scissors.
Here I’ve added a wing of cow elk hair to make a simple, but durable sedge.

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© Dennis Shaw 2009

 

Little Boxes

beyond actual assembly methods, preserving the intended proportions of a fly is one of the finer skills a tier can acquire.
there are numerous ‘hands on’ methods such as using the bodkin needle or other tool or even a ruler or drawing compass to compare lengths, widths and heights but in my mind the best tool is the mind’s eye.
“to see things with the mind”, to envision proportions by superimposing little boxes, triangles circles or ovals as in the image below frees us from the boundaries of gadgets and superfluous tools leading to a more intuitive approach to tying and fly design.

CDC loop emerger dave wiltshire
if there was only one adage to adopt in our craft the better one would probably be:
Less is More…
give it a try sometime. as in all things regarding adapting the way we see and think about the things around us, it may take a little patience and persistence but it’s a fun and rewarding challenge.


these thoughts where inspired by Dave Wiltshire’s fantastic CDC Loop Emerger pictured above.

“Tied in a range of styles and with different materials, this fly has a hugely buggy appearance and suggests that struggling and vulnerable stage as a fly makes the change from nymph to dun.I like to tie the tips long and allow them to project over the eye, giving an even busier profile. In conjunction with the wing, this makes a fantastic footprint.”

to access the step by step for this pattern and its variations click the pic and while you’re there be sure to check out a whole slew of other fluffy goodies at Dave’s River Fly Box.  enjoy !

 

Animalism (or the Tiger Nymph)

a step by step by Hans Weilenmann

kisa

if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if you crossed a Weilenmann with a Tiger then look no more  ! tiger_nymph_14
unfortunately, the materials list doesn’t call for any actual tiger hairs, But !
i’m sure the local ginger puss would be more than happy to donate a fur-ball or two for this worthy cause.

click either pic to access Hans’ step by step tutorial for this oh-so-scruffy-buggy, feliny nymph. enjoy !

Trout Fly Design- The Easy Peasy USD

by Roy Christie

we’d already seen one version of the Easy Peasy and it’s step-by-step and here’s the method behind the madness.
indeed, i like repeating myself: this is pure brilliance and one of the better examples of well thought out fly design. it’s the combined result of observing bugs, fish, where they come from and how they all inter-react. this is a fly that has everything it needs to catch insect eating fish and a lot of them and just about anywhere.
enjoy !

easypeasyusd

“Waterside observation of the behaviour of the particular insect we wish to represent, in whatever stage of its life cycle, is the first stage in fly design. I was often told by an artist friend that no matter what I thought I saw, I should draw just what I was looking at. When designing trout flies this has a distinct advantage. Looking at the mayflies, they are an obvious challenge to build upside down on a hook. The result – lovely drawing; hooking ergonomics – disastrous! So how do we build it?

Tails tied in around the bend, split for aerodynamics; abdomen built along the shank; wing behind the hook eye, tied within the bend; thorax in size and colour to match the natural. Legs, if any, further complicate the build. Do we choose to hackle the fly? If not, the thorax may be picked out to assist floatation. What if we want to imitate the legs, like in the yellow may dun with its bright legs and glowing body? How do we build the upside-down fly to land USD and ensure it stays that way? And finally, will it catch trout?

The answer to the above is elusive. Tailing/winging are major considerations in aerodynamics in this style of fly. The winging and hackling are the major obstacles to hooking. Hackling is preferable for a long float and when you want legs. When these obstacles are overcome the fly becomes viable in its design.

Dry flies need light hooks. In my opinion long shank lightweight grub hooks are ideal for USD flies. They give a low centre of gravity, allow you to get the wing away from the point, deliver an excellent profile of a mayfly dun or spinner and accommodate enough hackle at the thorax to ensure a sound platform for the imitation.

When constructing the fly, lay a bed of thread from behind the thorax to 1/3 way round the bend. Tie in four soft strong fibres, hackle fibres are good, if they are springy. Spread them in a fan shape. They need to be springy so that they will retain their aerodynamic effort after sustained casting; and soft enough not to interfere with hooking.

Build the abdomen, ribbed for effect if you wish, on the rear half of the body. I feel that the body should be low slung, but not quite in the surface; of course the lower you sling it, the better the centre of gravity of the fly, so that lessens its chances of falling over. In a breeze, this fly, instead of toppling over, faces into the wind like a natural dun. You heard it here first folks! Segmentation is achieved with mono, wire or tinsel.

Winging the fly is a problem. The first and glaring disadvantage is that the wing and hackle may mask the hook point. The long shank hook helps a bit here, by placing the wing further from the point. We can crank the hook about twenty degrees at the wing base to alter the hooking dynamics and, of course, choice in winging material is also crucial; it must be strong, flexible and soft – not stiff. The wing is tied within the gape, behind the eye, a quarter way down the shank. Woodduck, pintail or mallard fibres stripped off the stalk and tied in thin, up to twice the length of the gape, makes an enduring wing and aerofoil which will fold away from the point on the strike. Polypropylene gives good effect and can be trimmed to a sparse wing, but will fold into the bend and collapse. Take a Velcro brush along to groom these up. Whole feather wings within the bend spell disaster for my hooking percentages.

The thorax of this imitation should be made of water resistant material. Hare’s ear fur, dyed to suit is easily dubbed. The shape should present a slightly fatter profile than the abdomen in order to imitate the natural.

We could funnel the hackle over the eye and cover the roots with dubbing for the thorax and you have Neil Patterson’s Funneldun, an excellent pattern or we could hackle the fly around the wing roots within the bend – a tricky and perhaps not enduring construction – or parachute outside the bend – USD Paradun style – a good method, though in practice the length vs. density of the hackle is crucial and the centre of gravity of the fly is just a fraction too high for my taste. Alternatively we could palmer a hackle then cut off the barbs outside the shank – this palmer design is messy and wasteful but good support is achieved and the light pattern is excellent, with that necessarily low centre of gravity.

A few hackle fibres tied, facing aft will help support the fly even better. Always select a hackle which is strong and springy, without being stiff.

One night I was sitting drawing again, cabin fever strikes down the best of us sometime, under my cabin bed, but I definitely digress here…
I drew a USD dun – a lovely fly, then I had a flash of inspiration, nothing new in principle; again, just the application changes. I thought if I took the thorax cover, as used on tying a nymph’s wing cases – and tie it in as a breastplate for the dry fly, he will have to spread his arms like a true warrior. Tied thus I could use every fibre of those precious hackles and form an excellent platform for the fly in one simple move. We have the USD Palmerdun. For a confirmed light pattern enthusiast, who is a founder member of Hackle Misers Anon, this appeared to be a step forward. It is easy to construct so it is renamed the EasyPeasy USD dun.

Thus, above, you have my considerations of the challenge of USD. The lovely thing is that, if properly constructed, the fly is extremely effective (besides being great to look at!). The manner of construction is again crucial, with regard to proportion, aerodynamics and presentation. This fly should be built sparsely. I only use Permaflote, the old stuff, as greasy floatants can ruin the profile and thus presentation, due to matting of the fibres.

Taking my own best advice above I build the EasyPeasy USD as follows:

  1. Tie silk from 2mm behind eye round bend to 30 degrees
  2. Tie in tails, splayed outwards at 40 degrees for aerodynamic effect
  3. Tie in rib
  4. Dub and wind abdomen
  5. Rib and tie in
  6. Attach wing, slim and made from 15 mallard flank fibres, tied in within the bend 1½ to 2 gapes tall, quarter way down the shank
  7. Tie in thorax cover and hackle – hackle should be 1 to 1¼ times gape, the thorax cover can be feather fibres, the hackle stem or whatever you choose. Pick a colour to match the thorax of the natural dun or spinner.
  8. Dub and wind thorax fur
  9. Palmer the hackle two turns at rear, then to eye
  10. Tie in hackle, DO NOT cut off excess
  11. Dress the palmer hackle back then down over the wing to split it in half to each side of the thorax. Ensure the rear hackle barbs point aft.
  12. Pull the thorax cover through to the eye and tie down.
  13. Cut off only the excess of the cover.
  14. Whip finish
  15. Finally pull off the hackle tip, leaving the dozen stray fibres behind to complete the light pattern and the artificial fly’s platform.

Note: if you are tying this fly streamside, you can omit the thorax cover by using the hackle stem as a thorax cover. This is also useful on smaller flies.

This fly will support a degreased leader and it will face into the wind like a natural. It presents a light pattern representative of mayfly duns on the surface of the water very effectively indeed. The aerodynamics are such that it always lands correct way up and due to the low centre of gravity it is unlikely to fall onto its side. The profile of the natural is very well imitated against any background.

The colours should be selected to match the naturals whatever they appear to the fish – since the trout can see flies through white water and outside the spectra known to man, I am still working on this area. Seals fur bodies are good, blended to suit. Tying silk should be in sympathy with the body colour. Hackles can easily be blended by using two colours or types. Excellent combinations can be obtained, even mixing for example a sunburst grizzly dyed cock with a well-defined rusty blue dun hen hackle – which makes a very effective platform for the Yellow May Dun. Play with hackle mixtures; some wonderful colour mixes can be had. Entertain your quarry! ;¬}

Subtly dressed the EasyPeasyUSD takes no longer than a standard dry fly to tie. This pattern is most pleasing in the fly box, wonderfully attractive to the fish and if it is overdressed it is a disaster and a mountain of frustration. Properly and slimly dressed it is a great catcher of trout. If you make a mess of it the first few times, you will have some excellent cripple patterns!”

 ~ Roy

Lego’ my Pro Tube !

“When I was a child, I got a big box full of LEGO. I loved to play with it for hours! Ok, my mom was often not so happy, because after playing, my room looked like after an explosion of a bomb.

I still “play” with a kind of LEGO today. Well, it’s more like a fly tying LEGO. I’m talking about the tube fly system from Morten Bundgaard, owner and chief creative of Pro Sportfisher. Like Lego, everything fits together perfectly. It’s just so fun to be creative and to find out, how much is possible.”

toys, playing, fly tying and great results. i love how all this fits together and by looking at the yummy fly below, who wouldn’t ?

Pro-Tube-Baitfish-Collage-Mittel

click the pic to access this great step by step. while you’re there i’d really recommend going through Holger’s site to check out his other works, you won’t be disappointed. enjoy !

ethel the streaker

having had a handful of these great flies tied by great buddy and fantabulous tier Niklas Dahlin (and caught quite a few nice fish) this is a highly recommended fly to have. while running around naked can certainly be sort of fun, this kind of streaking is a blast because we don’t have to worry about drag-free drifts as the objective is to on the contrary, pull the fly across the current or lake and takes are usually explosive and we’ll often see the fish run after it, sometimes from far away, further upping the adrenaline levels compared to most other forms of fly fishing. cool !
now, i’ll gladly admit that working with deer hair has always left a hmmm… feeling, one of finding substitute materials which can lead to great working flies but not advancing and expanding my tying technique. having saved this one a while ago to pull out as a winter project, i thought i’d share it here as well as i know i’m not the only one with deer-hair-yuk tendencies.

as always, Davie demonstrates his perfect technique and explains this tie remarkably. of notice as well is his explanation on dubbing without wax as with most materials it’s completely unnecessary and even hinders the process.
for a lot of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the caddis season is well over which will leave us (me !) plenty of time to get this fly down pat before tying one on but then, they also make excellent indicator flies for fishing heavier winter nymphs. enjoy !

the Italian job.

by Lucian Vasies

what a quirky name for such a cool fly ! :mrgreen:

italian-job 1
devised for inciting winter grayling in the crystal-clear waters of Eastern Europe, this simple yet ingenious generic pattern is bound to be a real success anywhere, particularly on calmer waters, tricky flat sections of rivers and lakes.

i love the one-turn hen hackle legs and antennae and the thin, silk-only body reminiscent of North Country Spiders while being a floating fly. you got it, just the CDC wing will be above the water and the rest will be stuck in the surface film: an emerger stuck in and out, a particularly vulnerable moment in an aquatic bug’s (ex) life…  irresistible !   italian job 2

click either pic for Lucian’s step by step and materials list, enjoy !

Fly Tying with a gun.

a great sticky tip from Barry Ord Clarke

although not an exclusive element to this material and not all flies require it to be effective, transparency can give very realistic impressions of air bubbles, reflections from the underwater environment, the natural transparency of some bugs or baitfish or in other words, of life.
hot melt glue is inexpensive, great fun to use because it’s sticky, hot and smells sexy and it brings creativity to the tying process closer to one of sculpture, of modeling a fly.

what’s not to like with results like these ? 

click either pic for Barry’s hot and sticky tutorial. enjoy !

the Elasticaddis !

from Barry Ord Clarke

ok, these are extremely well, ermmm,  funny looking flies… 😆 but !!!  hat’s off the mysterious inventor of this pattern and to Barry for showing us how to put it together. rubber bands and hooks. what better way to have fun ?


as noted in the SBS, using the bead as a ‘stacker’ is quite ingenious and this trick can be adapted to other patters.


go creative , the fish’ll never know what hit them !

click either pic for Barry’s step by step. enjoy !

the EasyPeasy USD Mayfly

by Roy Christie

“My EasyPeasyUSD is a ‘concept’ fly for presenting an effective light pattern to fish feeding on the adult insects and the Flat Spent Spinner for the tail end of the hatch. Tie it to match the colour of the hatch.”

landing delicately, sitting low on the surface with a very ‘eat me’ profile and a very visible wing all makes this pattern outstanding for just about about any bug-eating fish. be sure to follow Roy’s recommendations below. click the pic for the step-by step, enjoy !

“treat with liquid floatant and leave to dry before losing it in a tree. ~ Roy”

cat guts

no need to worry, no pussy was turned inside-out to supply us with this ultra-cool tying material !
“Catgut is tough cord made from the intestines of certain animals, particularly sheep, and used for surgical ligatures and sutures, for the strings of violins and related instruments, and for the strings of tennis rackets and archery bows.”

translucent and as life-like as it gets, sold as a little tube that’s tied in and wrapped around the hook shank,

as in some other things, the real magic happens when it gets wet !

click the pics to get to Lucian’s great step-by-steps, you’ll find catgut here. enjoy !

 

the Teardrop Loop Wing (TDLW) Caddis

by Ulf Hagström

“yum-yum juicy good”  says Mrs. Trout ! from buddy Ulf here’s a super-nice twist to the classic fold-over cdc wing not only making it stand proud from the crowd but giving it a much more realistic silhouette. tying it involves needles and flames and gummy-stretchy stuff so it’s obviously a cut above the rest for the avid tier !

“This fly that I want to show here is a rather simple but dead effective loop wing caddis. It is a rather long wing with a special appearance, hence the name of the fly. Also I use a little unusual material for the abdomen, you can of course use any other that you are fond of, like nymph skin, flex skin or even just a dubbed and ribbed back body. The flat flexible jewelry “thread” that I have used here are very similar to flexy floss I think.

Fish it actively either when there is hatches of caddis fly or when they are fluttering around on the surface for egg laying.”

i would have included ‘sexy butt’ somewhere in it’s name but (SBTDLW) makes it hard to remember and once combined to a Swedish accent it’s bound to get a little messy…
click either pic for Ulf’s great step-by-step and don’t forget to crush the barbs. enjoy !

Ragin’ !

found over at theflybrary.com (what a groovy name !), here’s Tim Geist‘s version of Charlie Craven’s Ragin’ Craven:

“The Ragin’ Craven was originally developed as a permit fly that could be fished both on the drop and the retrieve. See, most permit flies are to be dropped in front of the fish, and act like a crab as they drop, but lack the movement and profile to entice a grab after the fly hits the bottom. I have never had a permit eat a fly once it touched the bottom, although they generally will eyeball the hell out if it and it gets a bit frustrating. Therefore, I went to work to come up with a fly that would drop like a crab pattern, but then have the movement and profile to morph into a shrimp or other flats critter once on the bottom, allowing the angler a chance to move the fly without blowing his cover. The Ragin’ is my answer. As a happy side effect, I have since discovered that the Ragin’ is a great fly for bonefish. I have used it with great success in Florida, Belize and Mexico, and the fact that you can fish the same fly to both permit and bones makes it a no brainer when fishing flats that harbor both species. A good friend of mine has even caught tarpon on it, and I have it on good authority that the Ragin’ is deadly on redfish as well. One of the most unexpected targets for the Ragin’ has been Striped Bass on the east coast. I’m not going to argue with this fly and it’s ability to interest a variety of species, I’m just happy that it does!”

and i wouldn’t doubt it for a second !
in fact, as one who can’t help but notice a lot of possibilities in cross-over patterns, (salt to fresh and vice-versa) i can see this fly working very well on a big number of freshwater fishes as well. retaining the basic pattern with a few minor tweaks here and there should keep one busy both at the bench and on the water.

here’s Craven’s original (see what i mean about tweaking here and there ?)

click the pic above for Craven’s fine step-by-step and Tim’s for a groovy selection of flies at The Flybrary. enjoy !