Fly Tying: custom dubbing blends

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Custom blending dubbing for fly tying.

I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with blending up my own dubbings. So far, the results have been pretty stellar, and I’ve managed to blend up some pretty cool stuff.

I like to blend up dubbing to add a little more personalization to my flies. It always feels better (to me) to know that I worked just a little harder to create flies that are a little more mine.

How I blend dubbing

For me, the coffee grinder method is by far the best. You can pick up a basic coffee grinder for $12-15 and it works perfectly.

I start out by hand mixing several materials in a small bowl, then move that over to the grinder for a few quick pulses to mix it up good. I’ve found that really short pulses, not holding the grinder down and letting it spin, produces much better results.

So, just load up the coffee grinder with a small amount of materials, give it a few quick pulses, and adjust or continue pulsing to your liking.

Materials I use

Most of the time, I start out with some basic yarn that I’ve cut up into small (1/2″ or so) pieces. This is usually in the color that I want the overall color of the dubbing to be. Yarn type can vary, but usually, the thicker the better. I tend to stick to natural colors for the yarn. To change colors, add in either small amounts of different yarn colors, or add in other dubbings to get colors you’re looking for.

I then proceed to add in my other materials that I want included. This is usually hare’s ear, deer hair or squirrel tail. I like really buggy dubbing, and adding these materials in is really a “try it and see” kind of experiment. You’ll start to learn what works well and how much to use after doing this a few times.

Finally, I almost add in some type of flash. This is usually either another commercial dubbing, such as UV ice dub, or some other type of flashy material that will give the dubbing a little sparkle or flash tone. Antron works well for this, as does peacock herl and crystal flash type materials.

Bulk processing

I’ve found it helpful to bulk process a lot of the base color yarn and just bag it up in quart size freezer bags. You can then easily mix base colors to get what you’re looking for. It also makes the process go faster when you already have your base yarn bagged and ready to mix.

I do the same with the deer hair or hare’s ear. Buy a ton of it, cut it up or shave it off into a bowl and use the grinder to mix it all up good. I store the hair mixes in old baby food jars and just mix it into my dubbing as needed.

You can buy chunks of deer hair by the bag on eBay really cheaply. Quality is not super important, because you’re just grinding it up anyway.

Mixing commercial dubbings

Another way I mix dubbings quite often is by using already made commercial dubbings. This is great when you have a particular color of something like super fine dry fly dubbing, but you want to it buggier or a little thicker.

For this method, I’m usually mixing super fine dry fly dubbing with hare’s ear plus, or super fine dry fly with snowshoe rabbit’s foot dubbing. I then sometimes add ice dub or small amounts of antron/z-lon to give it a little flash.

I’m still working on perfecting custom blended dubbing, but I’ve had some great results so far. Give it a try if you’re looking to create some cool dubbing blends. I think you’d be surprised how easy it is to do, and the results you can get from it.

Feel free to drop me a comment below if you have some tips for blending dubbing, or questions on how I do it.

Cory Perry
I'm a husband, father and fly fishing geek living in Greenville, SC. I'm down with slinging flies, tying flies and spending every minute I can enjoying the vast outdoors with my family and friends.

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