Fly Fishing for Trout Home
User Password
or register.
Scientific name search:

> > dubbing, best way to attach it to thread

Fissemand19November 4th, 2015, 6:00 am
Posts: 3I'm a new flytying guy and after watching a lot of video on tying I tried to roll the dubbing on my thread to make a body. The videos make it look a mite simple, but, ol fumble fingers here isn't getting it done , so I'd like to know any tricks to getting it done right so I can make a fly I'm not ashamed of. thank you
WbranchNovember 4th, 2015, 9:10 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2701
Apply some very sticky wax (there are waxes made expressly for fly tiers) to the thread. That should help with creating the dubbing noodle. Also roll your fingers in only one direction. Rolling back and forth wants to untwist the noodle you are creating.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Feathers5November 4th, 2015, 9:45 am
Posts: 287Keep tying! That effortless look on the video is called repetition. The skill comes with practice. You can do it, buddy. We all had the same problem when we began tying. Have fun!
Fissemand19November 4th, 2015, 10:37 am
Posts: 3Thanks guy, I figured it was a lot in the way of practice, I don't mind that in the least. Been having a ball learning to ty flies.
Thanks to both of you gentlemen
TNEALNovember 5th, 2015, 4:02 pm

Posts: 278
most of the videos I've seen don't incorporate on simple adjustment that will improve both the integrity and speed of your dubbing: use your thumb and forefinger backed up with your middle finger. Much more pressure making it tighter and quicker.
RogueratNovember 5th, 2015, 4:11 pm
Posts: 467
Use a LOT less dubbing per twist than you think you'll need...pull a wisp out of the dispenser then a wisp off that to actually use...and the greatest dubbing advice I ever heard was 'just paint the thread' with material. You can always wind more on to get results.


'less is more...'

Ludwig Mies Vande Rohe
RleePNovember 5th, 2015, 6:05 pm
NW PA - Pennsylvania's Glacial Pothole Wonderland

Posts: 398
Roguerat's advice about using only a wisp of a wisp is good stuff. You'll be surprised at how quickly it can build up on the body and as suggested, it is easier to add some more than to try and take some off the thread.

One other thing comes to mind...

Whenever I was teaching new tiers how to dub, it never ceased to amaze me at how many got hung up on trying to apply an absolutely uniform amount of dubbing everywhere on the thread. To achieve this every time you dub a body is way, way too much to ask of yourself. What matters is to get the material on the thread and it isn't any big deal if it is a bit lumpy here and there. You can address this when you wind the material onto the hook by making more or fewer wraps where needed. Routinely even coverage of the thread will come with time. For now, just have fun...
OldredbarnNovember 5th, 2015, 6:25 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
Roguerat's advice about using only a wisp of a wisp is good stuff.

Lee. I second that advicce, or is it I third that advice :) As Rogue is saying...There are no fat mayflies...

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
TaxonNovember 5th, 2015, 9:51 pm
Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1323
There are no fat mayflies.

One is best to avoid absolutes. :-)

Fat mayfly.
Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
Jmd123November 5th, 2015, 10:01 pm
Oscoda, MI

Posts: 2508
Good one Roger!! What would one expect from a Baetisca nymph, some slender Pale Watery Dun??


No matter how big the one you just caught is, there's always a bigger one out there somewhere...
CrepuscularNovember 6th, 2015, 11:15 am
Boiling Springs, PA

Posts: 923
There are no fat mayflies.

One is best to avoid absolutes. :-)

Fat mayfly.

RogueratNovember 6th, 2015, 11:34 am
Posts: 467
[...there are no fat mayflies]...hey, I didn't say that!

Seriously, I've never seen the Batfly...only pictures of this beast of a bug.

The Obesa in its taxonomy does it justice, this thing is downright rotund.

Ann Millers excellent book Hatch Guide to Upper Midwest Streams lists the Batfly, so there must be a hatch of these somewhere in Michigan- I need to see one up close.

OldredbarnNovember 6th, 2015, 12:28 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2600
There's not one ounce of fat on that bug...He's just built like a fire-plug. :) He is the Jake LaMotta of mayflies...

My point was that folks over dub the ab-dough-men on mayflies...Syl Nemes actually took a micrometer to the abdomen of mayflies for his book, "Spinners". He found that, for the most part, they were barely wider around than the actual hook...A common beginner issue resulting in "fat" mayfly bodies.

Nemes decided to use only the tying thread for his spinner imitations.

I have seen only one tyer dub thin mayfly bodies and he was the guy that taught me...If we looked at all the dubbing we each own, in a zillion colors and hues, some bland, and some sparkly, we might realize we each have enough to support a hundred lifetimes of commercial tiers.

Then there's the issue of whether color even matters in dry fly bodies...

If trout were like humans and had the slightest capacity to rational thought they would eat the fat ones thinking they were more nutritious...But...After watching two trillion float by their pea-brained heads and eating several million of the same damn species, the "chubby" one looks like the frauds they are. :)

Their obsessive side demands they make hay while the sun shines and gobble up the the species that happens to have the highest numbers at the time.

The only good thing about tying "fat" mayflies, for us humans, is it helps to put a dent in the pounds of dubbing we have lying around the house...

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
RogueratNovember 6th, 2015, 4:42 pm
Posts: 467

my first couple month's worth of flies were downright scary, lumps and tufts of material that still somehow hooked trout on occasion...I'm inclined to believe the fish took them out of pity since something that misshapen deserved a mercy killing. I wholeheartedly agree with the slender abdomen thing, since flies I've tied with attention to proportion just plain look better- and catch trout. Too much dubbing?! I've got baggies of the stuff that will likely never be used up- shades of rust and green, Antron and bunny, mixed on a whim to try and match 'that certain color'.

It's all fun...!!

TaxonNovember 6th, 2015, 5:59 pm
Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1323
There's not one ounce of fat on that bug...He's just built like a fire-plug. :) He is the Jake LaMotta of mayflies...

Best regards,
Roger Rohrbeck
BnorikaneNovember 6th, 2015, 7:54 pm

Posts: 15
Here's a very detailed guide to dubbing from Dennis Shaw:

and a good video from In the Riffle:

TroutnutNovember 7th, 2015, 6:36 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2707
Speaking of those fat Baetisca mayflies, sometimes you need to tie fat flies to imitate them, too. On the Bois Brule in Wisconsin when Baetisca laurentina spinners are falling and trout are going wild, a thick fly body can be the difference between getting skunked and a fish on every cast.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
VprinceiiFebruary 18th, 2016, 11:22 pm
Providence, RI.

Posts: 10
Im just learning how to dub also. I saw that if you dont have dubbing wax to make the thread sticky, you can use lip balm. It's not as good though. I found, you should start thin, twist it on in one direction. It helps to hold the thread as you are twisting it on.
TNEALFebruary 19th, 2016, 1:40 pm

Posts: 278
Place your middle finger tight against your forefinger when you are twisting the dubbing on. That will give you far greater force to apply it and speed up the operation at the same time. I'm pretty sure you'll also need less or no wax; esp. if using prewaxed thread.

Quick Reply

You have to be logged in to post on the forum. It's this easy:
Username:          Email:

Password:    Confirm Password:

I am at least 13 years old and agree to the rules.

Related Discussions

TitleRepliesLast Reply
Re: A Strange One
In the Identify This! Board by Taxon
10Aug 27, 2006
by Flymedic
Re: Differences I'm dying to know about
In the Mayfly Genus Tricorythodes by Reify
2Jul 9, 2018
by Martinlf
Re: Mayflies which crawl underwater to lay their eggs
In General Discussion by Troutnut
1Jul 22, 2006
by Taxon
Can't wait to hit this hatch
In the Mayfly Species Baetisca laurentina by Troutnut
Re: Drunella grandis species complex
In the Identify This! Board by Crepuscular
2Aug 2, 2019
by Crepuscular
Re: Hook size translated to mm, inches
In Fly Tying by Jschoen
8Aug 23, 2013
by Oldredbarn
Re: Mayfly I.D.
In the Identify This! Board by 14Adams
6Jun 3, 2011
by Brookyman
Re: dubbing wax
In Fly Tying by Strmanglr
7Feb 7, 2013
by Strmanglr
In General Discussion by Ohsen
7Feb 2, 2010
by Falsifly
Mayflies DVD Review
In Fly Tying by Adirman
Most Recent Posts
Re: Gila Trout near Silver City NM
In the Photography Board by JJTrout (Troutnut replied)
Re: Looking for best rod in $200-$250 range
In Gear Talk by JJTrout (Spoofer replied)
Northern Iowa Stonefly
In the Identify This! Board by Pdcox
Green Sedge
In the Identify This! Board by Wiflyfisher
Re: Unidentified Baetidae
In the Identify This! Board by Benthosfan
Re: Please confirm Ephemerella needhami
In the Identify This! Board by Jorowan (Doug1234567 replied)
Re: Where to find Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout
In General Discussion by JJTrout (Martinlf replied)
Re: Fishing rod sensitivity!
In Gear Talk by Grayson (OliverJames replied)
Re: Repeat of Niangua ID thank you Roger
In the Identify This! Board by Pdcox (Taxon replied)
Re: Stonefly ID Please.
In the Identify This! Board by OldHasBeen (Troutnut replied)