Twisted Sister: A New Look at Dubbing

( This is a longer newsletter but it is full of GREAT info, lots of sale stuff, useful tips and great markdowns. )

By Mike Hogue

The fly tying industry is just about like any other sort of business in that it tries to respond to customer requests by creating new products and also by offering a variety of colors and textures. Trouble is that often folks get confused by all of the choices and they aren't sure what some of the items are useful for. I doubt if anyone has bothered to explain what the different products are, what sort of textures they have or what they can be used for or how to use them.

I'll spend a bit of time doing just that for you. We'll beign by talking about the different sort of products, the textures and then how to use some of them. To begin with dubbing is a method we use in covering thread. Originally furs were twisted and spun on threads with waxes to change the colors or the shape to create various sorts of flies. Some processes were done to hold or to retain water or to repell water to make something appear to be more alive.

Let's take a look at sythetic versus natural. Synthetic dubbings are most often yarns that are extruded, split or combed out to allow the tyer to use small sections of the fibers. Natural furs are generally fibers which come fur baring animals, most of the time the fibers are attached to leather either tanned or dried hides. Guard hairs are the thicker longer fibers of natural fur and the underfur is fibers that lie below the rougher guard hair. To use the fibers it is often necessary to separate some of the fibers. Usually if an animal is a water born its fur is considered dry fly material. An example would be beaver which is a water based animal that's fur naturally sheds water.

A few technics can be explained for you. Often you will see patches of fur sold for fly tying. One of the best ways to separate the underfur from guard hairs is to cut the fibers from the leather. With one hand grasp the fiber and with the other cut the fibers close to the leather. Grasp the bottom of fibers, pinch and pull and you will cleanly remove all of the guard hairs from the underfur. This is one method to remove to get underfur from Muskcrat or Beaver to prepare the fur to make dry flies.

Usually when we talk about dubbing, we are talking about touch dubbing. In touch dubbing, we lay fibers onto a thread ( with a touch) and then twist the fibers. Often the thread needs to be waxed to get the fibers to stick. Usually I run my fingers up and down waxed thread which is often enough to soften the thread and allow the fibers to lay on the thread. If you want to use wax, LIGHTLY graze the thread by gently running the wax down the thread. Applying globs of wax will make a body large, fat and ugly.

To make the body the body nice, neat and tapered, tease out a small shape of fur into a small elongated triangle. When the dubbing is twisted and turned it will form a body which increases in size from tail to head. I also always twist COUNTER clockwise. That way when the dubbing is turned the fibers twist into themselves. This helps to prevent the body from coming apart.

Some folks like to use dubbing loops and of course there are about 50 dubbing tools on the market. If you are on a budget or in a pinch, you can use a paper clip. Grab the clip open it up to form an "s" shape. Run thread through one end and up of the clip and around the back of the hook. Bring you thread up and over again. As you turn the thread this creates a tighter lock for the loop. I learned this method from Gary Borger's book, "Desigining Trout Flies". If you have that book, look up the section on dubbing it is useful to reread this.

I also use a Vel-Cro comb. To make one, get a popcicle stick. Cut a piece of loop end ( NOT the fuzzy end) Vel-Cro to match the size of the stick. Apply Gopp cemment to the stick and put the material side onto the glue. Allow to dry. When done this can be used to scrub and comb out dubbed fibers to make the body more buggy looking.

One other useful idea is how to blend fur. Most of all the really bright stuff on the market will scare the crap out of anything that swims. I blend 3 or 4 products for interesting effects. This breaks up light and it tends to create things which are more attractive. To blend dubbing you can do it several ways: finger pinching , using a grinder or wet mixing.

Finger pinching is the easiest. Graps a bunch of dubbing, lay 2 different colors or textures on top of one another and pinch and pull. Continue to lay fibers on the top and repeat. Eventually, the fibers will be mixed. You can also dump stuff into a coffee bend grinder and hit grind, then it is all mixed. Lay fibers in a baby food jar, add water and shake, this will also mix fibers. I think that most colors of brite material should not be used as a straight dub, they should be blended with base materials like rabbit or squirrel fur to create new textures. This technic is useful if you are short a color. For example mixing 50% rabbit and 50% fox squirrel fibers will make the squirrel into any color. Great for a yellow stone mix for example.

Kinds and textures of Dubbing:

Like anything in fly tying there is not that is "hard and fast". Usually water based animals are used for dry flies, land based animals for sinking or swimming flies.

Beaver: Fine underfur which is great for dry flies. Generally dry dun.

Otter is a bit lighter gray, fine underfur. Nice for dries.

Mole is a short very fine fiber which is useful for tiny dries.

Fox has long fibers which are useful for dries like Gray Fox Variant and such.

Muskcrat is the traditional gray used for the Adams. It has a fine soft texture and dubs nicely. Colors sometimes vary between the back and the belly which sometimes has more brown.

Angora Goat is usuallya seal fur sub. It is long, course and slick. Usually requires wax to dub with.

Seal fur is long and course and is somewhat transparent. It is slick and can be hard to dub without wax. Few things look like real seal. Most sythetic imiations are very bad looking when compared to the real stuff. Baby seal will make one of the best dry fly materials available if you can find patches of it. Most are pre-war WWII stuff if you find it.

Squirrel fur is course and rough and makes a very buggy body. It can be blended to create many effects. It is generally gray and the belly is orange.

Rabbit is generally a base material for nymphs, it is soft, has some guard hairs and it blends easily. Hare's mask is rabbit faces and it is generally the cheeks that are used for making the hare's ear fly. I recommend using the premade dubbing as it is cheaper and easier to work with.

Australian Possum is a soft fur usually used for nymphs, although it is used to make the Ausable Wulff fly . The natural fibers are a mix of dark brown and orange. It is dyed several colors and makes a nice stonefly mix.

Fitch is a creamy yelow. It is the perfect sulpher color and is one of the most overlooked colors for light cahills.

Pink Vixen Fox is fox fur that comes from below the tail, where the animal had an accident on itself while doing it's business. The color is cream, gray and smokey pink. A fair number of the imitations are so bad that they are not even close in color.

Llama has very long fibers and is a wool. It is a hard material to dub with but is a good sub for the old Brelin wool used on many speys and salmon flies.


Generally there are a few ways to divide up snthetics. Some materials are metallic, some are reflective, some are transparent. Most are some shredded mylar, although Lite Brite and Angel Hair ( the exact same material) are by-products of the glitter industry, these are often used in large bails to weave materials. Some fibers like antron are rug fibers and the yarn is split, cut and separated to be used as a dubbing. I prefer to mix synthetics as a highlight and mix several materials to create a new material. If you add white Lite Brite or antron to most any color it will soften it. Usually snythetics will not change color when wet, whereas natural fibers get darker when wet keep this in mind when matching colors.

Antron: The tri-lobal stuff is mostly bunk in my book. Antron has a nice texture, is somewhat reflective, tends to be slick and is useful for dry or wets. It can be blended with other materials.

Lite Brite: A very reflective sort of material. It has several blends which are useful in making nymphs and swimming flies.

Fine and Dry: This is a snthetic dry fly material which has fine fibers, these are suitable for making dry flies. Material blends easily.

STS: STS is a nylon that is slick similar to Arizona sparkle dub and also SLF. It is a nice product that blends well, dubs well and mixes easily.

Quick Decent: This is shredded metal ( aluminum) that dubs easily. Fibers are soft and feels sort of like steel wool.

Polar Dub: This is a transparent dubbing which is almost clear. Useful as an additive fiber.

Ice Dub: Ice dub is a UV enhanced product which has unique colors. UV lite is captureded giving it a purple glow, unusual and interesting to work with.

Holo Brite and Glister are reflective materials which are slick and course. These are useful as an additive product or can be twisted as collars or in a loop.


Pre-mixed Dubbing Boxes:

Dubbing Dispensers:
Antron: Sparkle dub for nymphs. $11.00
Lite Brite: This is a coarse reflective material, add to all of your dubbings. $11.00
Fine and Dry: A fine dubbing for dries. $11.00
Squirrel Blend: Mix of antron/ squirrel: $11.00
Spirit River’s Dubbing Sof-Pak: Industrial sizes of dubbing. Tube with 10 colors. Chose from Squirrel Blend, ‘Possum Plus or Fine N Dry. $9.00 each
Stalcup's Micro Fine Dubbing: A new natural dubbing dry fly dubbing. Micro Fly Dub is cut short so that even the smallest of flies can be tied evenly. Very nice and easy to use. $12.00
Ice Dubbing: This is a coarse dubbing which contains UV reflective materials. Mix this with other dubbing for awesome effects. $15.00
Quick Decent: A fine shredded aluminum based dubbing which twists & wraps easily. Use for all your sinking flies. $15.00
STS Salmon and Steelhead Dubbing: STS is a really interesting nylon that dubs easily. Fibers are a moderate length. Colors are all hot, wild and neon. This will give someone sore lips! $12.00
STS Trout Dubbing: This set of dubbings is a bit more relaxed and contains mostly Earth tones and Peacock type colors. This is very similar to the Arizona Sparkle Dub of a few years ago. $12.00
Hareline Rabbit Dub: 12 colors. Use for Hare’s Ears, gulpers or nymphs: $12.00
Hare-Tron: Mix of clear antron and rabbit. Dave Hughes’ favorite for soft hackles. $12.00
Polar Dub: Clear translucent fibers. Mix with other fibers for cool effects. $15.00
Beaver Dubbing: It’s back! Extra fine natural dubbing for dries:$15.00
Holographic Dubbing. Electric holo dubbing that will hurt your eyes. Very cool stuff. $15.00
Dubbing Furs:
Nice dubbing fur pieces: Red Fox, Gray Fox, Nutria, Beaver, Beaver Dyed Brown, Beaver Dyed Black, Muskrat, Australian Opossum, Otter. $1.00
Chincilla Fur: Gray really fine, soft hair. $1.50
Russian Sable: Mix of a tan and buff. $1.50
Fitch: Nice Light Cahill fur. Creamy soft yellow. Very nice: $1.50
Soft Tanned Squirrel Skins (no tails):
Red Fox $8.50 or #1 Pine Squirrel $2.50
Mole Skins: Great for midges! Colors: Black, Med Brown, Dk Brown, Tan: $2.50
Pink Vixen Fox: This is the real stuff! Pink Vixen Fox. The REAL Hendrickson color. $2.50
Pink Vixen Coyote: Vixen Pink in longer fibers. $2.50

Dubbing Packets:
Australian Opossum Dubbing: Long time favorite is back in single packs! Ideal for nymphs. Colors: Black, Rust, Olive, Natural, Yellow Stone & Sulfur Orange, Bleached $1.50
Squirrel Blend Dubbing: Mix of squrriel and antron. Colors: Black, Brown, Lt. Olive (Yellow), Rust, Olive, Claret, and Natural Red Fox Gray ( Non Blended) Only : $1.50 pack
Fine and Dry: Dry fly dubbing in individual packs. Choose from: Black, Rust, March brown, Hare’s Ear, Adams, Blue Dun, Med olive, BWO, Tan, Hend Pink, Creamy Yellow, Creamy White. $1.50
Hareline Rabbit Dubbing: Hare's Ear, Dark Hare's Ear, Dk Dun, Olive, Hot Orange, Lt Olive, Flo Green, Black, Seal Brown, Flo Red, Insect Green. Light Cahill. March Brown, Adams Gray. $1.50
Mike’s Muskrat Dyed Olive: Olive dry fly dubbing. Use for BWO etc. Fine texture. $1.50
Stalcup’s Sparkle Leech Dubbing: Long Natural Dubbing Mixed with Sparkle Accents.For deep woolies, leeches and bass flies. Blue/ Black, Green Pumpkin, June Bug, Motor Oil, Peacock, Pumpkin, Pond Olive & Watermelon. $2.50

Dubbing Tools, Boxes and Wax:

Empty boxes with prepunched holes. Make your own blands or pack your own boxes. $3.50
Dubbit Tool: Great for spinning loops & collars on nymphs. Comes with directions: $11.00
Turbo Dubber: Big seller now at a nice price. $9.00
Wastach Tools' Shepard's Hook. This is a dubbing tool shaped like a shepard's crook. Ideal for use in making dubbing brushes or dubbing wires. $15.00
Wasatch Bird's Tool: The head is shaped like a triangle, so that you can flip the head and twist the dubbing loops on the side. Cocobolo wood with brass. $15.00
Wasatch Tools'Dubbing Brush: Coccobolla handle with shot shell cleaner type wire brush. Great for combing out fibers. $9.50.
BT’s Dubbing Wax: If you used Overton’s Wonder Wax & are looking for a replacement, this is it ! Tacky: $3.95 Super Tacky: $3.95

New Stuff:

Bills Skilton has just added many new items which I have in stock:

Jumbo Size Double Layer, Tapared Iridescent Chernobyl Bodies. This is a double deck of foam, cut in a taper with a foil back. Easy to make. Lay down some chenille and tie on some legs that is about it. Colors: Black/ Tan, Black/ Yellow, Brown/Green, Black/Green. 12 per pack. $3.25

Jumbo Size Triple Decker Bodies. Triple layers of foam. Triple sandwich bodies pre-made, tapered. Colors: Black/Brown/Tan, Black/Brown/ Yellow, Brown/Green/Olive, Black/Green/Olive. $3.00/6

Circle Strike Indicator: Small shapes used as an indicator when tied in above legs. Large Orange Rectangle or Orange Circle $1.50

Cherynobly Small Double Layer Round Bodies: Oval shape, ideal for bluegills. Black/ Tan, Black/ Yellow, Brown/Green, Black/Green, Chartreuse/Yellow. $2.50/ 12

Egg and Spawn Yarn: Used to make sucker spawn flies for steelhead. Colors: Cheese, Blue, Pink, Red Roe, Salmon, Orange. $1.50

Bill’s Scud Backing: Iredecent material which can be used for wings or as a scud backing. Olive, Bronze, Clear or Copper. $1.50


If you saw Dick Talleur demo recently he was using the new Whiting Spey and Salmon hackle. This is a blue ear pheasant type of stuff. This is the next gneration of this unique feather and with each generation this material keeps getting better. The saddles are like blue ear but much cheaper. You MUSY also tie these in by the tips to use them. Grade Bronze only, Colors; Gray, Purple, Chartreuse, Yellow, Pink, Hot Orange. $12.00



Badger Creek's Fly Tyer's Wood Tool Chest
If you are looking for a one of a kind item , this is it! You will love this special heirloom quality chest. This is a solid wood chest which will hold tools, hooks, materials and all of your tying goodies. Made of solid ash with a hand oilded finish, this chest is attractive enough to sit on any bench and is also built like a fine piece of furniture. Has 3 adjustable drawers lined with burgundy felt. Comes with durable outside handles and metal corners and latching hardware. Measures: 10.5"H by 18"L by 9"W. Top space is 2" deep to hold vise with ped base. Very nice!
Price: $120, compare these to other wooden chests at over $800! This is a great price.

Note: Overall weight for shipping is 14 lbs. ( Please contact me about shipping rates.)


Size 2 Salmon Pin Hooks: I got a mess of these in and for a limited time have them at $5. Gold hooks with bead attached to point with gold pin welded to back of the hook. Use for hat pins or for shows ect. NOW $5.00 each.


John Atherton's 1946 Fortune Magazine Fly Prints:

I located an exclusive source for these pictures. Each picture is an artist quality lithograph of prints from 1946. Originally published in a1946 issue of Fortune magazine, the original pictures were made by USA artist, John Atherton. These fly plates depict flies made from the 1940's by many of America and North America's leading fly tyers. This is a unique, one of a kind item which would be a welcome addition to an office, tying room, den or even the living room.
Each print is double matted in cream with a dark brown accent mat to bring out the best in each picture. Frames are wood with a rosewood color, a darkened edge and inside gold gilt edge. Simply, beautiful and very unique.

For a limited time I can offer each of these plates as a single plate, set of 2 or as a complete set of 4.
Single Print: Choose from Mayfly , Wet Fly, Low Water Salmon, Or Salmon: $80 each
Set of 2 Prints: Your choice of 2 ( I would suggest, Dry / Wet Fly or Salmon / Low Water Salmon ) $150/ pair
Complete Set of 4 Prints: You get the entire collection of 4 prints for $240

Visit my web site and check out GIFTS for more info.


Sale Stuff:

Hair Assortments: Mixed packs of tanned hair which include: elk, moose, deer and dark dark deer OR mixed packs of bucktail pieces useful for Clouser Minnows or hair wing streamers. Your choice ( tanned or bucktail ): $4.00

WOW! Dozen Wires & Tinsels: I found some old Indian tinsels and you save. Metallic flat and embossed tinsels, wire. 12 mixed colors Price: $6.00

Everything Listed ( BELOW ) Here for a Buck! I found a supplier that went out of business and I am selling all this stuff for a buck. First come, first served when it's gone that's it.

1/4" Stick on Whitch Craft Eyes: Prizm sticker eyes. These are ideal for saltwater and bass bugs. Colors: Yellow, Red, White, Green. $1.00 a pack.
Old Labeled Lite Brite Dubbing Packs: Single packs of dubbing. Use for highlites or as dubbing. Can use as streamer hair too. Colors: Copper, Pearl, Blue, Green , Purple, Fushia, Green, Silver, Gold. $1.00 a pack.
A Wild Hair: Assorted packs of deer, elk, wool for heads, spinning or wings. Colors and styles: Olive Elk Hock, Purple Deer Body, Flo Blue Deer Belly, Brown Deer Body, Yellow Elk, Red Deer Belly, Dark Brown Sculpin Wool, Black Sculpin Wool, Purple Sculpin Wool: $1.00 a pack.
Dubbing Delight: Mix of dubbings all useful: Sand Antron, Olive Dun Haretron. Highlander Green African Goat, Superfine Mahogany Brown, Black Squirrel, Claret Squirrel. $1.00 a pack.

-----------------Everything BEYOND is NOT a $1.00!------------

A Reel Markdown: Great DISCOUNTS on new reels.

After 7 years, Elite reels is getting out of business. I have been able to gobble up some of the old stock at great prices. I also dropped the price. This is your last chance to get a nice reel at a great price.

Elite Andros Reel: Disc Drag, Counter balance, 3 point needle bearing drag, machined reel foot, reel bag. Size 7-8-9 ONLY. Ideal for saltwater, steelhead, BIG bass or pike. Holds 230 yards, 20 lb backing plus WF-8-F line.
Nowhere can you find a saltwater reel at this price!
These were over $120! EVEN Lower Price: NOW $60.00

Elite Click Drag 6-7-8 Reel: Ideal for lake , bass, panfish or trout.Use for a sinking tip, ect. Reverses to right hand. left hand, counter balance and holds about 100 yards of backing. WAS $65 NOW $45.

Elite Housatonic Trout 4-5 Reel: Features: Counter Balance / Reel Bag Interchangeable Spools / Baked on Dark Olive Finish, Adjustable Disc Drag / R or L Hand Retrieve / Click Sounds in Both Directions Rim Control Machined Reel Foot. WAS $65, NOW $50.

Fishing Report: Weather is about perfect for area streams. I have been catching browns on dry flies around 2-4 pm. I use giant size 12 or 14 March Brown or Red Quills. Should last one more week. West Branch of Delaware was a gang busting 1600 Cfs at last report. Beaverkill is about perfect and dido for many other freestoners. I have been fishing small creeks now as there is little brush. If you have a small spot now to hit NOW is the time.

The new catalog is done. If you didn't get one and want one contact me and I will mail one to you.

As usual if you want to be deleted from this list for any reason, let me know. Hope you enjoyed this! Contact: Mike Hogue, Badger Creek Fly Tying, 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068. 607-347-4946. Email:, Web Site:

See you soon! Mike


For more Info Contact:

Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068

Phone: 607-347-4946