- For dry flies I like to use a very fine poly blend of dubbing material such as Fly Rite 34 on the left which I use on my Mr. Rapidan Dry Flies. This material is very fine, making it easy to dub flies as small as a size 24 with a smoothly tapered body. It is lighter than water and is does not adsorb water thus producing a high floating dry fly. This comes in many colors and is inexpensive.
- For nymphs and pupa I like to dub blends of natural furs because these produce buggy looking insect bodies. Counter wrapping these bodies with gold, silver, copper or olive wire produces a neatly segmented tapered fly body. However, if you wind the same ribbing materials with a forward motion you can produce an insect body with translucent living appearance.
When I can’t locate the exact color of natural dubbing fur I need to tie a specific pattern, I dye some of the fur I have and experiment. I have gotten excellent results with liquid Rit Dye by following the directions on the bottle. Normally I mix the dye with a 1/2 cup of clear vinegar in a quart pan of water and heat this on a hot plate until it is well mixed. I then add my natural dubbing fur. It is best to shear the natural furs from the skin before putting them in the dying pan because the natural oils in the skin can interfere with uniform dying.
Fly Tying Tip: Need dubbing material for fly tying? Blend your own custom colored dubbing to meet your fly tying needs.
I am a great believer in blending my dubbing materials for dry flies and nymphs. For example, when I first developed the Mr. Rapidan Dry Fly, about thirty years ago, I wanted it to have a body color which matched that of the Epeorus pleuralis adult mayfly. There was no dubbing material, either synthetic or natural fur, which matched this insect so I had to blend my own dubbing to get the mottled tannish-yellowish-olive body of the real mayfly. After much blending with various colors I camp up with the perfect mixture.
You can easily blend natural furs and fine diameter synthetics in order to get the exact color you desire. I especially like Australian Opossum, Mink, Beaver, Muskrat, Hare’s Ear and very fine synthetics. If you are tying nymphs leave some of the guard hairs in the natural furs, if your fly tying calls for dry flies remove most of the guard hairs. If I am tying only a few flies I will often blend the materials with two fine tooth combs. If I am tying a large number of flies I use a food blender or coffee grinder to mix the furs after wiping it down well with a fabric softener sheet to lessen static buildup. Next week I cover dying fly tying materials.