Published Sep 9. 2014 - 2 years ago
Updated or edited Jul 24. 2016

Threading a bobbin

Considering how simple the goal is: to get the thread through the tube of a bobbin holder, there's a surprising number of ways to do it.

The narrow entrance - The hole in a normal bobbin holder isn\'t large and getting the thread through it can be a challenge
C&F Design with foam - The C&F Design bobbin holders have foam in the tube, making a tool necessary when you want to thread it
Martin Joergensen

When changing spool and thread on a bobbin holder, you are faced with the task of getting the thread through the tube of the tool, and even though this might seem like a trivial procedure, it can be frustrating bordering on impossible depending on your thread and your tool. Here's a number of ways to finish the job with success.

Poke it through

The simplest way is of course just to poke the thread through the tube. This isn't always successful, but for some threads and bobbin holders it works nicely.

Mission accomplished - The thread is through the tube and can be pulled further through
Mission accomplished
Martin Joergensen

Simply stick a clean, straight and unfrayed thread tag into the bottom of the bobbin holder tube and slowly and gently work it through in small increments.
Some bobbins have very thin holes and will make this difficult, and others have ceramic inserts that create an inner edge, which can be hard to get the thread to pass. Stiffer waxed threads will typically go through fairly easily, but thin threads and softer thick ones will be very uncooperative.

Moisten and suck

My own preferred method it the moisten-and-suck method. Like whip finishing with the fingers it has the advantage of requiring no tools. Your lips are always nearby.
You can try with a dry thread first. Stick the thread as far into the tube of the bobbin as possible, and suck the end of the tube, short and hard. Don't breathe in! You don't want to swallow the thread, but just to get it to stick out far enough to be able to grab it with your fingers - or your lips for that matter, now that they're there anyway. If the thread not frayed or too fuzzy you may be able to simply suck it through the tube as is.
But it might be curled or frayed, and simply wetting the thread by running it between your moistened lips can make a difference. If this doesn't do the job, make sure the thread is cut in a clean using a pair of scissors and cut where it's straight and uncurled. Then try again.

The tag - It only takes a short tag for you to grab when you poke the thread through using your fingers
Poking - You can sometimes use your fingers to poke the thread all the way through the tube
Suction method - Sucking hard on the bobbin holder tube can draw the thread through<br />
The manual methods
Martin Joergensen

The non-threading one

Swiss tying tool maker Marc Petitjean has come up with another solution. His MP-TT bobbin holder simply doesn't require threading in the traditional sense, but lets you feed the thread from the side of the tube without any tools or any passing the thread through small diameter holes.
This is the only bobbin I know with this function, so for all the others you need one of the above methods.

Clean tube

One way of making these two processes potentially more successful is to make sure that there's no dirt or wax inside the tube. Wax in particular can obstruct the thread. Use a thin pipe cleaner or some dental tool to remove whatever is stuck inside the tube.
If it simply doesn't work with gentle pressure or suction, there's only one way to go: tools!


A bobbin threader might be the solution... it is after all made for the purpose.
These tools usually come pretty cheap, and in most cases their handle can double as a neat half hitch tool, and the threader is a handy tool for making loops on fly lines too.
Make sure you get one that's not too thick or rough, especially if you're using steel bobbins. The metal threader can scratch the inside of the bobbin tube. Ceramic bobbin holders are more durable, but typically much narrower, making it a problem to get the threader loop through the tube.
Simply shove the threader through the tube from the top, insert enough thread through the wire loop and pull it up through the tube and you're set.
Some bobbin holders like the foam lined C&F design one will require a threading tool like this. There's no other way to get the thread through the foam.

The threader - The traditional threader is usually a very inexpensive tool
Pulling through - When the threader loop is through the tube, you put the thread through the loop and pull it back
The threader
Martin Joergensen
The mono loop - Using nylon is a cheap and easy way of threading the bobbin
A bend in the mono - A sharp bend in a piece of nylon makes it easy to pass through the tube of the bobbin holder
Copper wire - Forming a threader from the soft copper wire is easy
Threaders by the feet and meter - Nylon in the 0.30 or 1X range (20lbs test) will to fine as a threader
Copper or mono
Martin Joergensen

Mono or copper loop

I never seem to be able to find an authorized bobbin threader in spite of having several, but I very often have a spool of leader or mono at hand. Something in the 1-4X class is fine.
I clip off a piece, bend it in half and bite on the bend to give it a sharper angle. That creates a pretty efficient threader.
The same thing can be done with copper wire for ribbing and such as long as the copper isn't too thin. Copper is very soft and easy to shape.
If you want to make that into something a little more formal, simply take a piece of dowel, punch a hole in one end using a dubbing needle (or use a very thin drill), stick the two tags of the mono into the hole and secure with some varnish, hot melt glue or what else is at hand.
That will make you a perfect bobbin threader that will not scratch your steel or ceramic tube. And make a bunch once you're at it - a few to give to you tying friends and a few to keep for yourself. Place them strategically on your tying desk, in your tool caddy, together with your bobbins or wherever you might need them when starting a tying session. The one might just be at hand when needed.

Dental floss threaders

If you want to save yourself the trouble of making a mono threader, you can simply pick up some dental floss threaders in a pharmacy or order some online. They are marketed under such fantastic names as Gum Gum Eez-Thru Floss Threaders, Dent-O-Care Floss Threaders, Bridgeaid Floss Threaders and Butler Floss Threaders Eez-Thru. Prices vary, but 25 should run you a few dollars and if you want a lifetime supply, a pack with 1000 is about 25 US$.
These are the most brilliant little tools for the purpose of threading a bobbin holder. They are essentially elongated drop shaped mono loops, perfectly fused and ready to use.
Pass the tip through the bobbin holder tube from below until it peeks out the end of the tube and pass the thread through the loop. Pull the whole thing through and you're done.
The threaders are cheap and loosing one to the gods of the tying table is no big deal since they are so inexpensive.
You might want to melt a small ball at the tip end of the loop. That will make it easier for the tip to pass through some bobbin tubes, which are lined with small ceramic plugs in the end, giving an inner edge that can catch the threader and make it hard to pass through. A little massage or spin usually solves the problem.

Coming through - Once the thread loop is through you can pull the thread all the way
The floss threader - The floss threader is inexpensive and easy-to-use threader solution
GUM Eez-Thru - These threaders are made for dental floss, but work very well for bobbin holders
Dental floss threader
Martin Joergensen


Hi Martin,

I found C&F bobbin threaders to snap too often :( Do you know proven substitute threader that would work with C&F bobbin?

If you play guitar the waste ends of a wound steel strings in various gauges make excellent cleaners for gunked up bobbin tubes. The thinner gauge non-wound steel strings make for good threaders - glue a few beads on as a 'handle' and to make it easier to find on a messy desk.

There is already a hook end bobbin threader on the market. I have one and it works fine. Just give it a twirl and it catches the thread for you. This task would be easier if manufacturers made the spool end(inner end) of the tube funnel shaped. The thread could be stuck into the tube easier. Floss threaders are great, and you could also use them for, you know, flossing.

A friend of mine has a really good tip. He cuts one leg off the standard bobbin threader so that it has just one leg ending in a hook, like a letter "J". Push this through the bobbin tube spin it around once and pull back. The hook picks up the thread when you spin it.
Not my idea credit to Wes Ower for this one.

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