Zonker and dubbing - A couple of tips

I have always used store bought rabbit zonker strips and happily handed over the 3-4 bucks for a little package. I saw the norvise demonstration at the flyfishing show and was particularly impressed by how easily Norm could spin up a dubbing brush to make a leech fly. Well, I bought the vise (and love it!), but rather than snipping hair off of zonker strips to try this dubbing brush thing, I bought a couple of whole rabbit skins in various colors. Turns out that a whole skin is about the price of 2 little baggies of zonker strips.

So to make the tail of one of these leech things, you use a zonker strip. Well, rather than buy zonker strips and whole rabbit hide, I figured on seeing just how difficult it would be to cut them myself.

Lay the skin down (fur side down) and with a new razor blade, they cut like butter with very little pressure. I experimented with different thicknesses. No jig, just cutting freehand. Turns out, even very narrow strips are surprisingly easy. If you were to cut a whole hide into strips, it would probably take all of 10-15 minutes and you would end up with the equivalent of approximately 12-15 of the store sized baggies worth.

The bonus to all this is that when you do this cutting, invariably, some small amount of fine hair is lost. How is this a bonus you ask? Through it in a plastic baggie and you have a baggie of dubbing to boot! I tied up several hairwings to try the dubbing out as body material and it works fantastic.

I'm sure someone else figured this out before, but I figured I would share to the wider group an easy way to get quality material on the cheap.

Now if I can just find a supplier of high quality, inexpensive bronze mallard and blue-eared pheasant...

I started a thread a few months ago asking for information on how to do exactly what you are describing Trevor. I got some great answers on how to cut several strips at once. I finally just used a scapel. It's easier to hold and direct than a single razor blade or a box cutter. One strip at a time ends up being much easier than I thought it would be.

Now take the next step. If you buy enough full hides and cut them yourself think of the money you're saving. Cross cut 25 or 30 hides and you will have saved so darn much money you can basically get a new rod for "free"!! If you hurry you can pick out your free rod for the spring season. Dang life is good!


Active Member
Wanna know the whereabouts of a Seattle leather shop that sells already DYED rabbit skins? Or do you even need to know? But seriously, there's one over on 12th Ave. South, about a block or two north of the viaduct bridge going over to Pac Med Center and the V.A. It's on the west side of the street. You pretty much have to take Jackson to get to 12th Ave S., unless you're coming from Beacon Hill. Unfortunately, I can't recall the name right now. :confused: