Clark Spinning Block
By Allen McGee


The Block

Dick Clark, a longtime friend and pupil of James Leisenring, developed a spinning block that simplifies creating the dubbing loop. The Clark spinning block is made from hardwood and while the block is not commercially available in fly shops, it can be built with minimal effort. The advantage of the spinning block is an easier dubbing method because the thread is held under tension by the block leaving the hands free to apply the fur and spin the thread. The dubbing block offers the fly tiers more control over the amount of materials and where they are placed on the thread. It's also easier to add more than one type of material to the dubbing loop be it a fur or synthetic when the thread is laid out for you. Pete Hidy used a piece of leather, white on one side and black on the other, placed underneath the fur to allow the tier to better visualize the taper he was creating with the fur. A leather strip or any piece of material that has texture to it can be used. However the wood surface of the block itself is suitable for placing the fur on the thread. In order to build a spinning block buy a 5.5" x 3" x 1" piece of wood. Poplar is a widely available wood that is easy to sand and can be stained if you wish. You will also need fine brass nails and a piece of suede or leather to be used as the block's background if you want.

After the wood is cut to size, rough out the beveled top edge with a wood plane. Then sand the bevel until it's smooth and even. Next drive a brass nail into the beveled end and cut the nail's head off with linesman pliers. Sand the remaining nail to make it smooth. Then take four brass nails and drive them into the block about 1" from each end and 1/2" apart. If you want to use the leather background cut the leather out using a template and use a hole punch to cut the holes. The leather background is held in place with the nails on the blocks surface. Finally cut a small notch in the end of the block and another one on the side with a razor blade. The bottom end notch should be directly in line with the brass nail post at the top of the block.

Step 1 and 2

1. Attach the waxed Pearsall's silk thread on the dubbing block. First hook the thread in the notch at the bottom of the block. Then run the thread up the block inside the brass nail posts, around the brass nail post at the top, and then hook the thread into the notch on the side of the block.

2. Apply the fur to the waxed thread to achieve a tapered segment. Tweezers make the job easier. To make a tapered body apply a little more fur to the center of the thread than to the ends.

Step 3 and 4

3. Unhook the side-notched thread and place it on top of the dubbed thread so that you trap the fur inside the loop. Then secure both threads in the bottom notch.

4. Remove both tag ends together and spin them in one direction only. Spin the loop about four or five times by rolling the thread ends between your thumb and index finger. Keep spinning the thread until a tight dubbing rope has been formed.

Card for storage

5. Remove the dubbed loop from the spinning block and place the loop in a notched card. Label the card with the fur used. ~ Allen McGee

Credit: The Clark Dubbing Block is one of three methods used to produce dubbing shown in Allen McGee's book, Tying & Fishing Soft-Hackled Nymphs. This excellent book is published by Frank Amato Publications.


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