Having Some Trouble Making My Dubbed Bodies Look Right...

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Nick Clayton, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. Nick Clayton Active Member

    Posts: 2,862
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    IMG_0106.JPG hale bopp.jpg 16-0310_Mohair_leech-Olive.jpg olive hale bopp.jpg Ok, so I really love leech patterns with this sort of shaggy/buggy dubbed look to them. The Hale Bopp/Mohair patterns are some of my favorite stillwater searching patterns. Since I've gotten back into tying lately I've been trying like hell to copy a favorite store bought pattern. I've had some success, with each attempt getting better and better, but I'm still not able to get the dubbed body to have the super shaggy/buggy/hairy look that I love.

    So here is an attempt to post a picture of my tie first, then a couple examples of the body look I'm shooting for, and am hoping maybe someone could give me a pointer or two that may help me achieve the look.

    I'm using Larva Lace Morhair Plus dubbing, but I have experimented with several others including semi seal but haven't really been able to change the results. I dub the body with a loop, and then go over it with a velcro dubbing brush afterwards. I've tried using less dubbing, more dubbing, spinning it tighter, spinning it looser etc. The one thing that seems to work somewhat is to apply dubbing to my waxed loop and spin it up pretty tight to get a good tight base, then sorta apply some more dubbing loosely and spin it just a bit so it's not as tight as the stuff underneath. This helps the shagginess to a degree, but often just ends up coming off and making a mess.

    So.... anyone have any suggestions? Is there something I'm missing? Or is this just gonna be a matter of practice, practice, practice?

    I'm thinking about maybe trying to dub a tight underbody to the hook shank first, and then go back and dub a looser outer body over the top as my next attempt.

    First pic is mine, the others are just general examples of the level of bugginess I'd like to achieve with my bodies.

    Thanks for any tips!
  2. troutpocket Active Member

    Posts: 1,776
    Ellensburg, WA
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    Hey Nick,

    I would be shocked if your tie caught any fewer fish than the others you posted. I know we all tie to our own personal standards and satisfaction . . .but you've got a nice leech there. In my own tying I've been going with more and more sparse dubbing . . .I think most shop leeches use way too much dubbing.
  3. S Fontinalis Active Member

    Posts: 463
    Ratings: +180 / 0
    I think the only difference between yours, which looks great, and the others, is that he hair on the others appears to brushed back.
    I'm sure you can imagine, that when the current of the river is flowing against your fly, the hair will be swept back.
    If you're dubbing to the thread maybe change and try the split thread or dubbing loop technique, that way the hair will be perpendicular to the hook when you wrap it rather than tight to the thread.
  4. Danny H Member

    Posts: 49
    The Bench
    Ratings: +1 / 0
    Have you tried brushing out your loop before you wrap it onto the shank?
  5. Nick Clayton Active Member

    Posts: 2,862
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    Thanks for the replies everyone. I do know these flies will catch fish, so I'm not all that worried about it, just trying more so to get the overall concept down for applying to other patterns and experimentation.

    Danny, I did try exactly that on one that I just tied up and it is my finest looking one to date. I spent a little more time focusing on the dubbing loop, and as I twisted it I pulled fibers and brushed it some with my dubbing brush. Then after each wrap I stroked all the fibers to the rear of the hook. Still not exactly the way I want, but definitely much closer. I think I'm on the right track.

    I agree with Troutpocket in that we tie to our own level of standards. While I know these flies will catch fish as is, I just prefer how the flies look with the buggier body. I know the fish couldn't care less if I like them or not, but I also think there is something to be said about fishing a fly that you have confidence in. When I fish a fly that I KNOW will work, a fly that pleases my own senses, then I believe I am likely to fish that fly harder, with more attention, and for longer because I know it will work. I think this is important because I truly believe that in most stillwater situations the presentation, depth, speed and profile of a pattern are more important than an exact replica. IMO of course.

    I am not sure why exactly, but I'm having more fun tying now than I have in the 15 or so years i've tied off and on.
  6. Obsessed Member

    Posts: 105
    Shoreline, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +7 / 0
    Nick,
    Try dipping the body of your fly in a cup of near boiling water for a couple of seconds. This well remove some memory out of the fibers, sweep them back and hang to dry. Just make sure to use forcepts instead of your fingers to dip the fly :).

    Dave
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  7. Nick Clayton Active Member

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    Dave, thanks for the tip, I actually came across this one on another forum late last night. So at 2 am I was boiling water and poured some over a coupe experiment flies. It did seem to help some, but not a terrible amount. Should I just dip the flies in quickly, or let them soak for a few minutes?
  8. Obsessed Member

    Posts: 105
    Shoreline, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +7 / 0
    Nick, 5 seconds is plenty.
  9. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,154
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +963 / 1
    I had a problem with angora goat and my mini-leeches. I kinda solved it by getting a "blob" of goat, cutting it in half and then spinning it in the dubbing loop. That solved my problems with the too long hair. Another thing that helped was more dubbing in the loop. Seems counter-intuitive but more dubbing, a tighter spin on the loop and hair cut in half gave me the look I was after. I brush the hairs back with velcro when I'm done.

    Before that I was forced to use the Slf shiny dubbing as it was shorter fibers/hair.
  10. Chad Lewis NEVER wonder what to do with your free time

    Posts: 881
    TriCities, WA
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    I was having the same problem with leech patterns. I decided to dissect one and found that the material (probably semi seal) was wrapped onto the hook with a wire dubbing brush. I use small copper wire to make dubbing brushes and have had much better results.
  11. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 4,015
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +724 / 1
    If I was a fish, I'd kill myself on one of those! Seriously, they look good. Leeches are rather ugly creatures...so you being too purdy on these is a waste IMHO :eek:
  12. Nick Clayton Active Member

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    I've been seeing brushes mentioned quite a bit lately. I've never tried one... Hell, I have no idea what it even is really. I think I need to spend some time on Youtube and take a look at this option.
  13. zen leecher aka bill w born to work, forced to fish

    Posts: 3,154
    Moses Lake, WA
    Ratings: +963 / 1
    brushes are basically a wire dubbing loop
  14. jessejames Flyslinger

    Posts: 1,856
    Show Low, Arizona
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    Nick I think there are two parts to the equation. The first is the material. I use Troutsman simi seal, it has long soft fibers, that is important when "picking it out"
    The next is technique: I use a standard thread dubbing loop unwaxed. I lay the fibers in pretty heavily but evenly. I put the fibers in the loop loosely and dont spin it too tight. When I wrap the loop I wrap it firmly. I make one wrap and smooth the fibers back another wrap and smooth the fibers back this way the loose fibers are not wrapped under the dubbing loop. Tie off the loop at the hook eye and make a tight head. NOW begin the brushing or picking. I like using a piece of the hook side of velcro. You need to pick out the fibers carefully so you don't break the dubbing loop or pick out too much so the loop thread is exposed. When it is picked out use the velcro or a brush to comb the dubbing back over the fly. You will lose some dubbing fibers in this process but if you have wrapped the loop tight you wont lose too much.
    Practice you will get it.
    If you will send me your address I will send a couple of packs of the simi-seal "on the house".
    jesse
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  15. Nick Clayton Active Member

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    Played around with a different type of dubbing that I found works quite well for this application. Thanks for all the tips and ideas. Sure am enjoying this dive back into tying.

    This body is much more of what I'm going for. I'm pretty pleased. I found that this dubbing is easy to work with, and I'm able to get more in the direction of what I want by using a bit more dubbing than what I was using, brushing it out after spinning it up but before laying it on the hook, and using my left hand to brush back all the fibers after each wrap.

    Definitely going to try my hand at the dubbing brush method soon.

    Attached Files:

  16. Danny H Member

    Posts: 49
    The Bench
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    Hey Nick, here's one I just tied that I dubbed the body and palmered a wire brush through.

    Attached Files:

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  17. Chad Lewis NEVER wonder what to do with your free time

    Posts: 881
    TriCities, WA
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    Nick, I see that you're using a Norvise. Here's a video on making dubbing brushes with your vise. I don't have the dubbing table, but it'd be a cool gadget to have. I just take the copper wire and go from the hook eye to the bobbin rest and wrap it around the thingy that you'd usually use to hang your bobbin. A little wax on the wire helps to keep the dubbing in place. Take your dubbing and put it into the wire loop, just like you would with a thread loop, and spin. You can make long brushes this way that will make several flies.

    HTML:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWcFL49FMaI
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  18. kelvin Active Member

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    Seattle,WA
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    the cup of water is spot on
    also keep twisting your dubbing as you wrap it on the hook and swip it back with your fingers as you go
  19. Thom Collins Active Member

    Posts: 203
    Kirkland, WA
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    Maybe you already do this, but on my last batch I tried arranging the dubbing more to one side of the loop instead of having equal bits on either side. Took much longer to load the loop up, and keeping what you just put in to stay put while adding the next pinch of dubbing was a pain, but I really liked the results.
  20. Nick Clayton Active Member

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    Thanks for the link Chad. That table seems kinda nifty.... but pretty spendy. Might see what I can come up with around the house before spending that kind of dough. Very interested in the dubbing brush concept.