Adding dubbing - what’s the secret?

Vermontdrifter

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I know I’m going to get stick for saying this but it also helps to have smooth, soft skin on the dubbing fingers otherwise the dubbing sticks more to the fingers than the thread so steal some of your significant other’s hand cream. Don’t forget to hold the thread straight and still with the non-dubbing hand. I was teaching a friend the basics and realized he was holding extra dubbing in his left hand while dubbing with the right and the thread was just spinning around resulting in very little adherence of dubbing. Lastly stay away from seal dubbing until you have a decent technique as that is really difficult to get right!
 

BobP

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There are lots of soft dubbing materials around these days and they make the job relatively easy. You must be firm with it once you have offered your material up to the thread. I find that UTC thread is quite good. So, it's PINCH, TWIST, RELEASE, PINCH, TWIST, RELEASE, and repeat as necessary. TWIST one way only. I reckon if you devoted a solid hour to practising you would have it sorted. Rocket science it ain't.
 

delray

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What is the dubbing you’re trying to use?
Rabbit, Hares mask and Mole are three of the easiest to dub onto silk thread.
Morning Hardrar. I hope A.S doesn't mind me taking part in this, we seem to be doing the same thing at the same time.
To your question above, I have no idea. I have a collection of stuff bought a few years ago at a fly fishing fair (Sussex somewhere) and one bag holds 8 bundles of different coloured fluffy stuff. There's no label on the bag and I assumed it was 'dubbing'. There's also a bag of synthetic seal fur. Anyway, slow but sure, or just throw the towel in when I come to terms with my inadequacies.
Cheers.
 

iainmortimer

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I’d agree pretty much with all of the above and find that I rarely wet my fingers or use wax on my thread even with seal fur which can be a pain! Note that synthetic seal fur is easily the hardest thing to dub closely followed by natural seal and so leave those alone until as suggested you have practiced with something like rabbit. I would say the easiest of them all is blue rabbit underfur.

My tips:
1. Make sure your thread is wound to the right place on the hook. If you wax
your thread (or use pre-waxed) position the thread to allow for the undubbed turns you will put in. If you don’t use wax you can carefully slide the noodle of dubbing down the thread and so need less turns.
2. Take the tiniest pinch of dubbing you can and do not roll it or otherwise compress it any way
2. Try to creat a flattish sheet of dubbing between finger and thumb without any lumps and bumps.
3. Offer it up to the thread and while pinching tightly roll them across the thread in just one direction. The action should be similar to one you would use if rubbing glue off that was in the same place as the dubbing. That should be enough to get the dubbing attached. Remove finger and thumb and repeat until you have the noodle formed. Only ever roll it one way or you will unwind it
4. Examine your noodle. If it is has uneven lumps then tease the material out to make it even and then using your finger and thumb roll it again.

Your aim should be to use as little dubbing as you possibly can.
- Don’t try and form the body using the noodle. If you want a carrot shaped body then build up thread wraps before dubbing or simply create more wraps with the dubbing. That has two benefits. Firstly it will be more secure as the dubbing is held in place better. Secondly because the dubbing will be tighter any ribbing will not sink into the dubbing and disappear or move around making it much easier to creat an even rib that looks better.
- don’t think you have to create the noodle in one go. You can apply a short length and then add more as needed even after you have started to wrap the body.
- you can adjust the body after you have started winding it. With harder materials like seals fur it can even help to make one or two turns of thread and once it’s caught the dubbing in, tease it out and reform the noodle. Hard to explain but watch a few DavieMcPhail videos where he is dubbing and you will see him do it.
- finally don’t give up! Like riding a bike it can be frustrating but very quickly you will get the hang of it and wonder why you ever thought it was hard!
 
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Hardrar

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When I first started fly tying 50+ years ago now, you would use twisted silks like Pearsalls ( I still do) and a heavy bobbin holder.
The technique was to leave a foot of thread hanging from the hook shank and let the weight of the Bobbin holder, naturally unwind the thread, you would then dub in the fur, twisting back the opposite direction to how it unfurled, thereby retwisting the thread and trapping the fibres within the natural twist of the thread.
The other method is to split the thread with a bodkin, trapping the fibres between the yarns, then pull tight and twist. This gives a “looser” dub and more free fibres.
I’m not a fan of synthetic materials, preferring sustainable and local sources and have always caught more fish with natural fibres.
 
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