I have been reading with interest the articles on dubbing
brush machines. I decided to do experiments of my own.
I find dubbing brushes made with wire core useful to add
weight as well as a nice body to my still water trout flies.
I have a big coil of copper wire which I got for $1.00 from
an old electronics shop. It's fairly fine gauge but thick enough
to add weight to flies and it winds well. I thought about what
I could use to twist this wire into a loop and make it tight
trapping the dubbing. First I tried my dremmel. I took a
salmon hook, cut off the point and barb, and the eye, and
fixed this in the dremmel to hook the wire loop onto. My
dremmel is a single speed tool, and in my experiments I found
it worked really well. Except that because it goes so fast, I
ended up covered in green and pink dubbing. Not a cool look
to have pink fluff in your hair.
Next I remembered that a while ago at my local petrol station
I had been given an electric pepper grinder as a customer
incentive. One of the handy gadgets you never use and stick
in a drawer somewhere. Could I utilise the motor of that? I
took off the outer casing and the bit the pepper corns go into
and was left with a rotating motor and a square hole that the
grinder fitted. I waited till my wife had gone to bed. (Important
guys) then epoxied my cut down salmon hook in the middle of
the square hole. After drying and some tidying up it made a
perfect tool for twisting the wire. It runs slowly but is powerful
enough to easily twist up the copper without spraying dubbing
I have a tying bench which is about three feet long and has a
piece of 2 x 1 waste wood at the front to stop the table being
scratched and act as a stop etc. To this piece of wood, I stick
in three map pins, (those coloured plastic pins that you put into
a cork notice board or into maps to mark places). I have one
at the end on my left, one at the far right and one in the centre.
They need to be fairly well lined up. I take my copper wire and
attach it under the left hand side pin wrapping it around and
pressing the pin so it hold it reasonably securely. I then pull
the wire along and around the far right pin. Pulling it under
the plastic and around the nail part. Wind it around a couple
of times and keep it tight. I push the wire under the middle pin
but don't wrap it around. The wire should now be single
stranded and flat against the wood or bench.
Take your choice of dubbing or underfur and put small
pieces on top of the stretched wire. I have found that
sparce if better that having too much. Spread it along
the wire until you reach the centre pin. (IMPORTANT:
DO NOT SNEEZE AT THIS POINT) You can now if
you wish add other materials, crystal hair, flashabou etc
etc. Hair mask guard hair works well if you like a nice
spikey leg like look. When you are happy, put one finger
on the wire just in front of the middle pin and hold it tight.
Get the end of the wire from the right side pin, and pull it
around the middle pin, keeping it tight and press it down
over the dubbing. Secure it at the left hand pin winding it
around a few times. You should now have a double strand
of wire with dubbing material in between the loop. (SNEEZE
NOW IF YOU NEED TO!)
Take your chosen twisting tool. (my pepper grinder). Keep
your finger on the wire just in front of the middle pin, and pull
that pin out. Don't let the wire go! You should now have a loop
which you can hook your tool onto. Keep the wire taut and
switch on your spinner. The wire will twist together with the
dubbing in between. With my dremmel this was a quick switch
on and off again. With the coffee grinder a minute or two.
You can twist it till the wire breaks or stop when you are
sure the copper has wound itself tight enough.
You should now have a great looking dubbing brush or
hairy wire. At this stage cut off any end loops or twists
and IMPORTANT pull the wire and dubbing between
your thumb and forefinger. This will remove any surplus
dubbing that has not been trapped in the wire. (If your
using the dremmel you can skip this stage cause the surplus
dubbing will be in your eyebrows and hair.)
It literally takes me two minutes to make a great brush.
You can experiment with materials and colour combinations,
make them as sparce or course as you like. I don't need
complicated or expensive machines. If you have a multispeed
dremmel I guess this would be perfect, otherwise just adapt
any small motor you may have available. Go for a small motor
that can be hand held and doesn't need to be mounted.
Have fun and happy tying. ~ Mick Porter
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