If you're a novice or if you simply have trouble with
dubbing, devote a little time and 50 cents' worth of
material to practicing the technique. Trying to learn
how to dub while also trying to tie an unfamiliar fly
makes no sense. Master the basic skill first, and then
apply it to a pattern. This approach helps as much with
dubbing as it does with deer hair.
Most problems with dubbing stem from using too much
material. I believe it was Ed Engle, a fine fly tier
and fly-tying author, who quoted a fellow tier as
saying that he used just enough dubbing "to dirty
the thread." That's a good way to think of it. With
a little practice, you will be able to manage a heavier
load of dubbing on the thread. At first, though, apply
small, tiny, minute, minuscule, itty-bitty amounts of
fur to the thread, particularly when tying trout flies.
Start with a wisp of material that looks ridiculously
sparse, and then use only half of that.
What if you want to build a thick, tapered body? Do
it by wrapping multiple layers of dubbed thread. Yes,
it takes a little extra time. But dubbing a body in
layers gives you perfect control over its thickness
and shape, and always produces a better-looking,
more durable fly.
You apply dubbing to thread by rolling the material
and the thread between the tips of your thumb and
index finger. Fly tiers generally use the term
"twisting" for this operation. Roll—or twist—in one
direction only, not back and forth. For instance, I
roll dubbing onto thread by sliding my thumb toward
the tip of my index finger. Then I let go, get a
fresh grip on the material and thread, and roll
again in the same direction.
Some tiers use wax when they dub, some don't. I can't
remember the last time I used dubbing wax. Novices,
however, often find that a little extra wax on the
thread helps the fur to stick. If you use wax (but
I recommend that you don't), pass it along the thread
once. Do not slather a thick coat of sticky wax on
your tying thread; too much wax robs dubbing material
of its color, luster, and fuzzy texture. That's why
I never use the stuff. ~ AS
This Tying Tip is an excerpt from Tying Better
Flies by Art Scheck, published by Countryman
Press. ~ DLB
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