WHAT IS DUBBING FOR ARTIFICIAL FLY TYING?
Dubbing is certainly one of the most widely used fly-tying materials and is composed of generally very thin fibres ranging in length from a few millimetres to a few centimetres.
Originally, dubbing for artificial fly tying was made exclusively from animal hair, such as hare or rabbit, but in recent years, synthetic dubbing with very interesting characteristics has entered the fly-fishing market and is used on its own or mixed with the ever-popular natural dubbing.
The dubbing is mainly used to make the bodies and thoraxes of dry flies, emergers, nymphs and streamers. It is attached to the tying thread with or without wax or by means of a thread loop and then wrapped around the hook shank. You can make very compact or more fluffy strands, depending on your needs, and many of them can be "combed" with a male Velcro to allow some of the fibres to come out and give volume and movement to your artificial fly.
Not all dubbing, however, necessarily needs to be wrapped around the hook with tying thread. Some dubbing, especially synthetic dubbing with very long fibres, can be applied in small bunches and then "combed" with Velcro to bring a little shine throughout the silhouette of artificial flies such as streamers.
Although many dubbings tend to look similar at first glance, each one has unique characteristics and lends itself to specific uses. In this short text we will try to shed some light on dubbing techniques and the various types of dubbing and their uses.
Natural dubbing is made exclusively from animal hair. As you know, every animal develops unique physical characteristics, to adapt to survive in the best possible way in the place where it lives. This is obviously reflected in its hair, which will become suitable for tying certain types of artificial flies rather than another.
For example, if you want to make a dry fly, it will be very advantageous to use beaver or muskrat hair, because these are animals that by their nature develop a waterproof hair that will consequently offer excellent buoyancy to your dry flies. Having said that, it is also possible to make dry flies with other types of dubbing with excellent results, but certainly when it comes to buoyancy, some dubbings have outstanding properties.
One of the most widely used natural dubbings is certainly hare or rabbit dubbing. Its fibres are short and very soft, and as well as being one of the very first hairs to enter the world of artificial fly tying, it is also one of the easiest to work with and therefore particularly suitable if you are a novice fly tier.
Except for deer dubbing, all natural dubbings in our online fly-fishing shop can be attached to the tying thread with the help of wax, or by manually wrapping the dubbing around the thread with your index finger and thumb. The latter solution makes the dubbing strand very compact. Once tied to the hook you can comb them with Velcro to make them fluffier.
As for the deer dubbing, the best solution for tying it to the hook is to use a loop assembly.
Thanks to the various dyes that are applied to the natural hair, there are many different colours of dubbing to suit the construction needs of fly fishermen. Although there are some very bright colours, natural dubbing always retains a very discreet appearance. This is essential when the fish is very suspicious and a very bright dubbing such as synthetic dubbing might scare them away.
Synthetic dubbing, although much newer than natural dubbing, has in just a few years attracted the interest of fly tiers all over the world. Over the years, many different types of synthetic dubbing have been developed, and in some cases, they can give an extra edge to your imitations.
There are two main characteristics that differentiate synthetic dubbing from natural dubbing:
The first difference, which immediately jumps out at you, is the brightness. In fact, synthetic fibres reflect light very well, and often some of these fibres react to the sun's ultraviolet rays, generating flashes and glows of a thousand shades of colour.
The second main difference lies in the fact that synthetic fibres do not absorb water, keeping their weight unchanged, and consequently they dry much faster than natural hair.
The fibres of synthetic dubbing are generally much longer than those of natural dubbing and therefore require a little more dexterity to fix on the tying thread, but don't worry, even if you are a beginner, you will get the hang of it with a few more tries.
Although it is also possible to attach synthetic dubbing to the thread without wax, we do not recommend this fixing technique if you are not sufficiently experienced. With these types of synthetic fibres, we suggest that you help yourself with dubbing wax, which will make the process much easier. Here too, you can comb the dubbing with Velcro for a fluffier final effect, giving your artificial fly volume and movement, imitating the legs of a real insect.
Synthetic dubbing can be used on its own for greater visual impact, or you can mix it with natural dubbing to add a little shine to your artificial fly. Keep in mind that in some cases the fish may be frightened by too much glitter, but in some cases this glitter may stimulate the natural curiosity of the fish, very often leading to a bite. It is up to you to decide which dressing is most effective for the waters and fish you are fishing.
In streamer fishing, the strong reflections and glare generated by the synthetic material irritates the fish and often triggers an attack not out of hunger but out of nervousness. Some of our synthetic dubbings have very long fibres and can be tied to the hook not by wrapping them around the leader but directly on the fly in small bunches, letting the glittering synthetic fibres run all along the streamer's silhouette.
Mixed dubbing combines natural and synthetic hairs. The result is really very interesting because the mixture, besides being homogeneous, is really well made. The amount of synthetic fibres is very discreet and gives the natural dubbing the right brightness without having too much of an impact on the artificial fly, with the risk of scaring off suspicious fish.
Often having a few synthetic fibres inside the natural dubbing can really make a difference, making the fish curious and ensuring that among the various insects carried by the current they decide to take your imitation.
Mixed dubbing can also be attached to the tying thread without wax for a more compact result, or with wax for a softer, fluffier final effect. It is always possible to comb the dubbing with Velcro after it has been wrapped onto the hook, to increase its volume and give movement to your fly.
In our assortment there are many different combinations of natural hair and synthetic fibres to give you the widest possible choice of materials.
The dubbing dispensers from hotfly contain 1 gram of dubbing in each compartment, which is equivalent to the amount of dubbing in a classic bag. Buying a dispenser saves you money compared to buying a single bag of each colour and having a good stock of product means you won't easily run out of dubbing and will always have a wide choice of colours at your disposal.
Dispensers are available for all major types of dubbing: natural, mixed and synthetic.