Touch Dubbed Body
March 12, 2010
Touch dubbing imparts a soft silhouette to a fly body and allows creation of many bug like effects through carefully combinations of thread and dubbing material. Natural dark mole fur and yellow Pearsall’s tying thread are combined here in a Waterhen Bloa imitating a small olive mayfly.
From the outset, bear in mind that while touch dubbing is a simple technique, it is most suited to fine and short filament materials like hair’s ear, mole and muskrat; more course materials like seals fur for instance, are better dubbed using a loop, split thread, or basic twisting between finger and thumb.
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1. Start the thread where you want the front of the body to end, then run it in touching turns to the rear, in this case opposite the hook point. If you haven’t already done so, prepare a small ball of dubbing. The dubbing should be well mixed and without clumps.
2. From the bobbin holder let out a few inches of thread and run the wax along its length. You’re after a consistent thin coating, most easily achieved if the tip of the wax stick isn’t ragged.
3. Take the ball of dubbing, in this case mole, and touch it to the thread. Try not to touch the thread with your fingers.
4. Use only very light pressure to achieve a sparse cover of dubbing. Once dubbed, wind the thread forward to form the body.
5. The more sparse the dubbing and the more contrasting the thread colour, the more the thread shows through.
6. When the body is complete add the remaining elements. Here I’ve used a morehen under marginal covert to form the soft hackle on a Waterhen Bloa.
Dubbing rake: For touch dubbing you want the dubbing material filaments to be very well mixed. What you don’t want are matted clumps with filaments stuck together or closely aligned. If you have fur on the hide try using a dubbing rake which gathers and effectively mixes fur as it draws it from the hide.
Coffee grinder: An old coffee grinder is excellent for mixing modest quantities of dubbing material. Where different textures and colours are to be combined, the grinder really helps achieve consistent results. I’m told that adding water and using a food processor is the best way of mixing large quantities of dubbing but unless you intend to embark upon a commercial operation this would probably be over gunning it.