Dubbing loops… Some love them and others despise them, some tie every Fly with a dubbing loop and others don’t see the point? From streamers to little trout flies dubbing loops can add that something extra to your flies that the trout might be looking for. Or at least you’ll feel cool tying a little trout bug with three dubbing loops or tying that perfect baitfish profile for your pike flies.
For the point of this blog I’m going to talk about the basics of dubbing loops and for my sake I’m going to break it into a few different posts…
Tying with dubbing loops starts with having and using the correct equipment. Here are the items you’ll want to have on hand to start tying with dubbing loops.
Thread is the basic ingredient of a dubbing loop. With dubbing loops you are making a loop in the tying thread, adding a material between the legs of the loop and spinning the loop of thread. This makes a sort of hackle or brush that you wrap on the hook. One common mistake with dubbing loops is using the wrong thread. Usually this involves the thread breaking when you spin the thread. Veevus tying thread is the answer! From 140D on steelhead bugs to 10/0 on little trout flies… Veevus rocks! That’s right, 10/0 Veevus is plenty strong for use in dubbing loops.
Dubbing Wax… Dubbing wax helps hold materials in the dubbing loop. Add some wax to one or both sides of the dubbing loop and your material will hold better and be manageable when manipulated with a bodkin. Are your tying materials slipping and falling out when you use dubbing loops? Try a bit of dubbing wax and I bet it will help a ton.
Dubbing board… What’s that? Use the small cutting board to help arrange your materials for the dubbing loop. If you don’t alread use a cutting board for stamping out foam bodies then use a piece of cardboard or white card stock. Then draw a straight line and use it as the reference of your tying thread. This sounds goofy but it really helps, especially when tying intruder style flies and bigger streamer patterns.
Dubbing Twister… Get a good dubbing twister and stop using a crappy one! OPST makes the sickest dubbing twister I’ve used. It’s super heavy, great rotational weight for effective spinning of the loop. One hook in the center. I really like the one hook on this twister. It makes it easy to got on and ,more importantly, off the dubbing loop. No more squeezing two springy legs together to get it off the loop. Machined with 5 sides to keep your dubbing twister from falling off the tying table. Can’t say enough about OPST’s dubbing twister.
Bodkin… I like a slim profile bodkin to get in a and dig materials out of the twisted loop. Picking, digging, out your materials is a very important step to dubbing twisters. Griffin Makes a great bodkin and I also like the Stonfo Bodkin. I always like to have two types of bodkins… A slim profile pick to do small detail work with and a nasty Ice Pick style bodkin for the heavy work!
Tooth Brush and Metal Brush… For intruder style flies I like a good old tooth brush to further dig out more materials from the loop. Do be afraid to get aggressive with the tooth brush. Also a good metal cleaning brush, like the on for your AR, really helps with getting those stubborn fibers from the twisted thread. Just a warning… Don’t try to brush your teeth after using it to groom a dubbing brush? Might need to floss afterward!
So head to your favorite fly shop, Lakestream Fly Shop, and pick up any tools you don’t have yet and start practicing more dubbing loops. Part 2 of this series will cover dubbing loop formation and material organization. What? Why not more now? Patience your grasshopper… The road to dubbing loop perfection is a slow one and is not to be rushed. Practice using dubbing loops in the mean time, make some mistakes and I’ll try to answer the mystery behind dubbing loops for you. Plus… I need to pack my shit for a few days of fishing!