The best dubbing material for fly tying is going to be a blend of both natural and synthetic hairs. This will allow you to tie flies with all different kinds of colors and structures.
That being said, you can also purchase all-natural dubbing or all-synthetic dubbing, and it will work just as well. It all depends on what you plan on tying and how comfortable you are with the material.
Table of Contents
Now, if you want to learn more about dubbing, then keep reading. Below, I’m going to go over different features of dubbing as well as some different products that you can check out.
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What Is Dubbing?
Dubbing is the material used for the body of your flies. It can be made of natural fly tying materials that usually go on insect imitations, while synthetic materials are usually brightly colored for reaction strikes from fish.
Dubbing is wound around the tying thread of your fly. This is to make the body. Technically you could take any material and wrap it around the thread on the hook and it would be considered dubbing.
So, if someone is trying to sell you $50 worth of the finest dubbing known to man, then just know that you don’t have to purchase it. Dubbing can be anything you want to add to your fly. The best dubbing material is whatever you’re most comfortable with, though.
When to Use Dubbing
Many new fly tiers struggle with applying dubbing properly, which can result in flies that look shabby and lead to bad days spent out on the water chasing fish.
If you plan on tying a natural-looking fly that imitates a specific bug, then a natural dubbing fiber is your best bet. A fly that you want a reaction strike out of should be tied with a brightly colored synthetic dubbing.
Of course, you can always use a combination of both synthetic and natural dubbing. This allows you to fully customize your fly into the fish catching machine you want it to be.
A lot of times when you’re using dubbing, you’ll be using a dubbing spinner tool. Of all the fly tying tools on your bench, this one is great to have for handling dubbing.
Types of Dubbing
Below, I’ll go over several different types of dubbing. Each of them has their own pros and cons, so think about what you need as a fly tier.
This is a medium-coarse dubbing. This makes it the best dubbing for tying flies such as nymphs, dries, and wet flies that live in both still water and moving bodies of water.
Rabbit Fur Dubbing
This is a very fine dubbing. On top of that, it’s easy to find and cheap, making it great for all fly tiers. It’s also easily dyed, so you can find it in all different types of colors.
This is a synthetic dubbing that’s very versatile and ideal for mayflies, pupae, and nymphs. On top of that, it can also be used to tie small streamer patterns. It can be used alone or mixed with natural dubbing.
This is a synthetic dubbing that’s very similar to a natural seal fur dubbing, meaning it’s great for many different types of stillwater patterns.
What Makes Good Fly Tying Dubbing Material?
Below I’ll go over four different features that you should be looking for when purchasing your fly tying dubbing. Check them out and see which ones you like best.
The color of your dubbing plays a pivotal role in the tying of your fly. Choosing the incorrect color could result in a day spent fishless out on the water.
Most natural dubbing has a more natural color. You’ll find they have more earth tones that match certain insects, whereas synthetics are dyed and have a wide selection of colors to choose from.
If you plan on tying a fly that will be in the water, then you want to tie on a dubbing that absorbs water. You don’t want your nymph floating on top of the water like a dry.
The opposite applies for drys. You need something that repels water, so you can keep your fly sitting pretty on top of the water.
Very coarse dubbing can be difficult to work with if you’re a novice. It can lead to the dubbing not holding on tightly to the tying thread. A medium coarseness is the best dubbing material for fly tying most nymphs and wet flies.
Blend dubbing is a combo of several different natural furs. You can add synthetic fibers too. Most blended dubbing is great for tying trout streamers and other wet flies.
Overall, this is a great dubbing for most river flies. You’ll typically use a dubbing spinner or dubbing loop tool (pictured above) when mixing dubbing for flies, as it makes it easier to spin them quickly and evenly.
Best Fly Tying Dubbings
Below I’m going to go over three different packs of fly tying dubbing. Each of them has its own pros and cons, so think about what you need and then apply that to the info below.
Riverruns Fly Tying Dubbing
The Riverruns Fly Tying Dubbing Dispenser is a great fly tying dubbing dispenser. This dispenser is compact and transparent, which makes it ideal for the fly tier who enjoys bringing their equipment on the road.
It comes equipped with 12 different colors, so you never have to compromise on what color you want your fly to be. You’ll have the ability to make it whatever color you wish.
Wapsi Fly Tying Dubbing Dispenser
Similar to the Riveruns box, the Wapsi Fly Tying Dubbing Dispenser is another great dubbing container. It holds 12 different all-natural colors, allowing you to tie the most realistic flies possible.
Easily open up the box and you can quickly grab a pinch of the dubbing you need for your fly. It’s great for travel or just being kept on your fly tying bench.
Similar to the other three, the Hareline Dubbing Box also contains 12 different colors, giving you a vast selection to choose from. You can color your flies exactly how you want to.
This is a great box for the beginner. It has everything you need to get started. This can easily be your go-to dubbing for years.
Hemingway’s UV Dubbing
Hemingway’s UV Dubbing is a favorite of many fly tying experts around the world, including our Into Fly Fishing expert Pierre Joubert. This dubbing comes with UV to give it a nice flash and attractant in the water.
Dubbing is a great way to make your flies look more realistic. The right color and coarseness can drastically change how the fly looks in the water.
Now that you know a little bit more about dubbing, you should go ahead and pick some up at your local fly shop.
Some images in this post are courtesy of Shutterstock.
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