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First published before January 1st 2001 - More than 12 years ago
Applying Dubbing Techniques
To Your Own Dubbing
Article by Steve Schweitzer
right. Almost everyone has the right stuff at their tying bench to make a great batch of
dubbing. But not many people know they have everything they need to make an outstanding
seals fur dubbing substitute. This dubbing is a viable replacement for SLF, angora
goat and seals fur, and the trick to making it is so simple it will amaze you! This
article not only explains the process but also reviews the basic and a few seldom-taught
dubbing techniques. Making your own seals fur substitute involves floss.
Thats it. Well, maybe a fine-toothed comb or velcro brush would help, but really
your fingers and a 4" piece of silk or nylon 4-strand floss will make a dandy mess of
seals fur dubbing substitute ready for your atlantic salmon fly or steelhead
Making your own seals fur substitute involves floss. Thats it. Well, maybe a fine-toothed comb or velcro brush would help, but really your fingers and a 4" piece of silk or nylon 4-strand floss will make a dandy mess of seals fur dubbing substitute ready for your atlantic salmon fly or steelhead patterns.
The process of making the seal fur sub dubbing is quick and easy and doesnt involve any specialized tools or materials. Plus, only one material is required: 4-strand nylon or silk floss, silk being the preference.
To start, cut a piece of 4-strand nylon or silk floss about 4" long. This amount will make about the right amount (with a little excess) of dubbing for a 1/0 salmon or steelhead fly body. Simply hold one end of the floss strands and begin to fray the entire length of the material. The objective is to separate all the micro-deniered fibers from their tightly spun state. A fine-toothed brush or comb or a velcro-tipped dubbing teaser works well for this task. Now pull apart small thumbprint sized sections of the material until the entire length is apportioned off into small oddly shaped piles of loose fibers. DO NOT CUT THE MATERIAL. Youll want the un-uniformed look of ripping the material apart. Repeatedly combine all the piles and pull them apart to further mix and separate the fibers until it takes the form of SLF, angora or seals fur dubbing. Thats it. Your seals fur substitute is done.Desirable Qualities Of Silk Floss Dubbing
First and foremost, silk is color-fast. Raw silk accepts dyes readily and vibrantly displays them once dry. Secondly, silk dubbing is easy to control. You can dub a small, tight, size 20 body and turn right around and dub a bushy, overgrown size 8 woolly bugger. And the dimensions in-between are endless. Silk dubbing is translucent. Only a few materials in nature provide such translcency; seal, polar bear & kid goat to name a few. SLF has a similar translucency, but is man-made. Blending Materials and Their Proportions
One major advantage to making your own silk floss dubbing is the control over consistency, color and content. For example, using your newly created seals fur sub may be adequate as-is for atlantic salmon patterns, but may be too wimpy for steelhead bodies. Adding SLF, hares ear or antron adds sparkle, bulk and texture to the dubbed body of a fly.
Some examples of silk dubbing composites I use:
Floss stand-alone = salmon patterns
¼ Squirrel + ¾ Floss = caddis body dubbing
½ Hares Ear + ½ Floss = woolly bugger dubbing
¼ Antron + ¾ Floss = Medium density steelhead/atlantic salmon dubbing
¼ SLF + ¾ Floss = Heavy density steelhead/atlantic salmon dubbingComparing Seal, Silk, Angora & SLF
Seal tends to be the standard when comparing and contrasting dubbings for atlantic salmon and steelhead patterns. However, silk, SLF and angora posess high-end quality characteristics of seal's fur at a budget price. They all have a high colorfast quality; something very important to the salmonfly or steelhead tyer. Silk is easy to dub and holds vibrant colors well. SLF can be a challenge to dub as the fibers are thicker than natural furs. Angora can also be achallenge to dub as the fibers tend to be long and lanky. It makes sense to break the fibers in half to accomodate an easier dub. The following chart compares seal's fur and seal's fur substitute dubbings.
Dubbing and Application Techniques
Try these methods with your silk dubbing.
Do the Twist
Wax on, Wax off
A dubbing loop has been a popular method of dubbing over the ages and has especially become more popular with the recent advent of stronger, thinner tying threads like Gel-Spun Poly, Danvilles Flymaster, Kevlar and other various 8/0 - 14/0 threads.
To apply dubbing using a dubbing loop:Step 1. Form a loop with your finger and bring the bobbin around the hook shank another turn. Step 2. Lock the loop in by going around the base of the loop at the hook shank with the bobbin & thread.
Step 4. Prepare a hank of dubbing material about ½" wide and slightly shorter than the loop itself and place the hank inside the loop.
Step 5. Hold the loop near the bottom with your forefinger and thumb of one hand, then spin the dubbing spinner gently, letting it slow down and stop on its own accord. Grasp the dubbing spinner to prevent it from unwinding and release your thumb and forefinger just above it while applying tension downward on the loop. The thread twists will work their way up the loop thusly trapping and spinning the dubbing hank within. Be careful not to over-twist the loop. You may break the thread under to much tension or create a dubbing rope versus a bushy dubbing loop. However, a dubbing rope is desirable for making segmented bodies on nymphs.
Step 6. Use a toothbrush or dubbing teaser to evenly work the dubbing around within the spun dubbing loop. Wrap the dubbing loop around the hook shank as you would a standard dubbed body.
While there are countless other methods, mostly personal and variations on a theme, the methods portrayed above will get you through most tying situations.