The Basics of Dubbing

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Photo by Bob Reece

Photo by Bob Reece

By Bob Reece

What the beginning tyer needs to know about dubbing.

Creating beautiful, well proportioned flies is a skill which takes time and practice to master. One of the least intuitive steps in the process is working with dubbing. The thousands of dubbing choices on the market today only help confuse the beginning tyer.

Here are some basics to get you started dubbing beautiful flies.

Less is More

The most common mistake that new tyers make when applying dubbing is simply using too much of the product at one time. In general, less is more. Smaller amounts of fibers are easier to apply and lead to the creation of more anatomically accurate insect imitations. The one exception to this lies in the world of streamers where bulky dubbing loops and brushes can be used to create the large silhouettes of beefier food items.

Dubbing Types

There is an increasingly wide spectrum of dubbing varieties on the market. This can be overwhelming for new tyers. These materials are categorized based on their construction and uses. While these “boundaries” are often crossed, a few basic principles can be followed to help get you started. Superfine dubbings are most commonly used for dry flies and very small nymph patterns. Natural dubbings are typically used for nymphs ranging throughout the size spectrum and some larger dry flies. Partially synthetic mixes and fully synthetic dubbing such as Ice Dub can be used on large dry flies, larger nymph patterns and streamers.

Essential Tools

While I don’t think that all of the dubbing tools on the market are necessary, there are some that I would consider essential. For me, Loon Swax is a must have, especially when working with synthetic dubbing. The extra tack that this product adds to the thread helps hold fibers in place until they’re applied to the hook shank. In addition to this, I always keep a dubbing teaser handy. This simple little tool helps me bring out fibers and enhance the buggy appearance of streamer and nymph patterns that incorporate dubbing.

Watch this video for more dubbing tips and techniques.

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Bob Reece
Gink & Gasoline
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4 thoughts on “The Basics of Dubbing

  1. Pingback: How to Use Fly Tying Dubbing · Fly Tying Channel

  2. Thanks, Bob. I generally use the “traditional closed loop” when tying. What kind of tool do you use to secure the bottom of the loop/twist the dubbing loop? There are so many tools out there, that I’m not sure which one to use. The one I currently employ allows the thread loop to slip out, and I naturally get frustrated when having to start over. Thanks!

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