Grouping and Categorizing Dubbing

by Mike Hogue


Dubbing is a product area which is confusing to many people. This is not surprising because there are so many different colors, textures and kinds on the market. Let's take a look ways to label some of these materials to make the applications easier and the choices more simpler. I will try to categorize some of these products for you and help you to pick some the better choices.

The simplest way to divide dubbings is break it down between natural furs and synthetic materials. Natural materials can be grouped into 2 other groups: water/marine furs and sinking/nymph furs. The old rule of hat was that if an animal's fur came from the water it was considered a dry fly material since it contained natural oils that repelled water. This makes little or no sense since seal fur is perhaps one of the most popular wet fly materials used and well seal is a marine animal. Animals such as muskrat and otter are typically considered dry fly dubbings.

Usually it is preferred to get fur on a patch. The main reason is so that you can remove the guard hairs. You clip the fur tight to the leather to remove the fur and then hold the clipping in your thumb and forefinger and pinch out the guard hair with your other hand to remove them. Muskrat, beaver and otter make some of the best dry fly materials you can use since the fibers are fine. I try to use natural materials on dries and then use synthetics on nymphs or swimming flies. Fitch, Australian opossum, nutria, fox and mole are also ideal for dries. I like to use squirrel fur for nymphs and it is one of my preferred choices to use instead of hare's ear material. You can group other materials like seal, goat, rabbit as nymph or swimming fly furs.

By far the most popular natural material is hare's ear which comes from rabbit faces that are dried or tanned. Most folks assume that this material comes from the ears of the mask but in actuality, the cheeks are the best dubbing fur on the mask. I generally like to use premixed packs of hare's ear since it is such hassle to clip, mix and blend this fur. Although, if you do this by hand you can vary the colors between light and dark.

Synthetics are by and large plastics which often come from the glitter trade or from yarns that are split and combed out. For the most part all of these materials are way to bright and should never be used as straight colors. One major exception is the super fine dry fly dubbing which is fine combed yarn, usually I use this as is. I like to combine very bright materials with either dyed rabbit or dyed squirrel. Sometimes I use this as a highlight and other times I mix several colors since few if any colors that occur naturally are one pure color. More often colors are blends of several colors.

To group these materials is not too hard. I like to use Transparent, Reflective and Iridescent, UV and Light enhanced, Holographic and Flat Sparkle, Dry Fly as terms to group various products. Polar dub is a transparent clear material from Hareline. It have fine shredded fibers which can be mixed or used straight. Reflective materials include Light Brite which is shredded mylar. This is a course fiber which I mix with other materials. It comes in hanks or dubbing, you can use either to dub with. Iridescent materials include Master Brite ( Aka Veniard's Glister) this is a course pearl mylar that is dyed different shades and it is a very bright material. It can be used as collars, on steelhead or salmon flies and as a streamer body. Most popular colors include; pearl, black, olive and brown.

UV and Light enhanced are the very popular Ice Dubbing which has a UV cast to it. In look light it takes on a slight purple or lavender reflection to it. It is one of the most interesting materials available. The material itself is soft and can be used for small flies.

Holograhic materials like Holo Brite are shredded mylar holographic tinsels that will burn your eyes they are so bright. I think this material is best used mixed with other materials or furs since it is so brite. Flat sparkle materials include antron and STS. These material have a sparkle to them but they are not reflective and they are for the most part, opaque. Antron is best known for the Lafontaine caddis flies. STS ( Hareline's Salmon-Trout-Steelhead ) and Arizona Sparkle Dub are very similar and are segments of opaque mylar material shredded. These are very useful materials which can be mixed and used on small flies. Arizona sparkle dub is mostly a peacock substitute dubbing and is great for nymphs.


Dubbing Supplies:

Mole skins: Just in! Mole skins are used on soft hackles and put into split thread dubbing loops. Fur is extra fine. Colors: Black, Blue, Claret, Green, Olive, Brown, Beige/Tan: $3.50 each

Bleached Muskrat: I had a full pelt bleached. Fur is golden tan with brown guard hair. Ideal for sulfurs, cahills and dorthea flies. $1.50 a patch

Bleached Beaver: Beaver is a fine fur and the fibers blend and dub easily. Ideal for dries and spinners. Color is a softer tan-cream than muskrat. $1.50 a patch.

Otter patches: Brown dub fur. Nice for dries. $1.50

Packs of premixed Muskrat: Olive and Rusty spinner. Extra fine, few guard hairs. Dyed. $1.50

Cream Australian Opossum: This is a cream version of the really cool fur. Try making a cream bomber or a cream Ausable Wulff for a Sulfur variant. $2.00

Gray Fox patches: The guard hair is used for the rusty rat series. Bottom fur is nice to use for dries which is gray and tan mixed. $2.00

Hair Masks. Select English hare's masks dried. Extra cheeks and long ears. Colors: Natural, Bleached, Olive, Black. $3.50

Clear Cut Antron: This is clear antron fibers which you can mix with your own dubbings to get antron blends. Long or short fibers: $1.50

Red Fox Squirrel: I have this done for me in bulk. Most squirrel you get is a mix of rabbit and squirrel, this is 100% red fox squirrel. I use it for nymphs and hare's ears. $1.50

Euro-Seal Fur: I have some of this very difficult material to get. Salmon, steelhead and wet fly material unlike anything else. Colors: Black, Claret, Purple, Orange, Cream, Olive, Green, Blue, Red. $3.50

Pseudo Peacock Dub ( Aka Arizona Sparkle ): Another version of a material that is popular. A light bit slick to dub with, so use some wax. Colors: Golden Olive, Bronze, Natural, Light Peacock. $1.50

Custom Blend: Hareline's mix of rabbit, goat and ice dub. Nice long fibers. Use for leeches or stoneflies. Colors: Golden Stone, Olive Dragon, Black Stone, Brown Stone, Hot Orange, Chartreuse and Purple. $2.00

Empty Dubbing Box: This a pre-drilled empty box with 12 compartments. Use for your own in house mixes. $3.50

BT's Dubbing Wax: My favorite wax. Use as a sub for the long gone Overton's. Tacky or Super Tacky: $4.00 a tube.

Terra Dubbing Rake: Some fur dubbing tool to rake fur off a patch with. Brass handle: $3.50

Jade River Dubbing Comb: Metal handle laser etched comb to pull underfur off of things like fox or coastal deer. $10.00

Terra Turbo Dubber: Ball bearing design with a spinning head. 3 attachments: shepherd's hook, fine wire, or bent u shape. Handle doubles as a deer hair packer. Spins loops like crazy. $9.00


Just In: Catskill Fly Fishing Maps and Adirondack Maps:

I have a complete set of river maps, maps of the lakes and streams. Most run $2.50 each. Use for deer hunting, fishing, hiking. Very nice and not available at the Basssssss Pro Shop.


Vest do-dads: These are a whole collection of items just in:

Ez Lap Diamond Hook Sharpener: This is pen shaped diamond hook hone. Top is a cap which has a clip. Hone has a groove mounted in it and slide hook down to sharpen. Use for knives, tools, skates, drill bits or saw blades and chain saws. $6.75

LedHedz: This is clip on light. The body now is glow in the dark. You clip this on your cap and it is a very bright lamp. Thing is quite small and light weight. Very hot item. My supplier can't keep these in stock. Ideal for night fishing or climbing around the attic in search of Uncle Roy's antique cane rod. Use for working in the basement or climbing into ceilings for all you construction workers. $15.50

The Fly Trap: For those in search of the stainless steel Rively fly patch, this is about as close as you can get. Metal with screen sides, face folds down and have a ripple patch. Mount to a vest or fishing shirt. $20.00, Black only.

Amadou: Still the best to dry dry- flies with. Natural mushroom sucks up water like a Cheesezer-Packer fan drinking beer at football game. Bounty towels never had it this good. $12.50.

Stream Thermometer: Black Case with glass thermometer. Use of taking temps to match hatch times ect. Top has ring and it screws into case. $13.00

Doc's Dry Dust: Sprinkle on magic stuff that makes bubbles and dries flies. Use on CDC flies. Very cool stuff. $5.00

Pulsa Pinch on Strike Indicators: These are foam that fold in half like marshmallows to suspend your nymph. $2.00, chartreuse only.

Loon Biostrike: Hot orange or hot yellow strike putty. Pinch some on, then take off and put back in the can to use again. $5.25. Same stuff as the some-more-orvis.

Skip's turn on indicators. Nope this isn't one of the hot rated adult rated items to use at home. These are floats footballs shaped, split with rubber bands. Slip on and twist, use as an indicator. $5.50. Red/Yellow or Chartreuse/Pink. $5.50

Pin On Fly Patch: Ripple foam attached to a card, pin on to vest or wader straps. $1.50

Natural Lamb's wool patch: Lamb's wool with a pin, grabs hooks and won't let go. Sort of like that wild rose plant in the woods, grabs you and won't let go. $3.50

Steel Cable Zinger: I hate that those cheap string zingers that bust after one pull. Steel cables with clip or pin. $6.00

Stainless Steel Clippers. Stainless clippers with no lever. Has needle to clean eyes. $5.00


Special Notice:

Mike Hogue's Bass Fly Tying Class.

Like to learn how to tie bass flies and learn more about fly fishing for bass? Fly fishing for bass is one of the most exciting types of fly fishing. Our Finger Lakes are home to some really nice fish. These fish love hot weather and warm water, so when it is too hot to trout fish, keep fishing by fishing for bass. Many of the lessons I will show you can be applied to almost every type of fishing: trout, saltwater and even salmon fishing. Even the most seasoned tyer will learn a great deal. Last time I did this class was 5 years ago at the Tennessee FFF Conclave!!!!! I do some very unique flies.

I will be holding the bass fly tying class for 2 weeks. Learn how to make my famous soft foam head flies. We will also make crawdad flies and Clouser minnows as well as spin some deer head flies. Fees are $50 for both lessons. Bring your own vise and hand tools, I will supply all materials.

Class size limited to 10 people. Thursday evenings from 7-9 pm. July 15th and July 22nd. Location: 622 W. Dryden Road. We will also talk about different flies, fly selection and the correct way to rig up your rods. Contact me at 60-7-347-4946 for more info.


EXTRA SPECIAL BUY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just got a shipment of jungle cock necks in. These won't last long. Unbelievable prices! These are B grade necks with some splits. Necks aren't as full. Fine for fishing flies. Prices: B+ Grade: large Extra full: $45 each, 2 for $80. B grade: Full, a bit smaller, $40 each, 2 for $75. B- these are not as full, some have 2 patches in the pack. $35 each, 2 for $70.

More Hebert stuff in: I got a boat load of the Hebert special dry necks in. Buy a neck and get a free hen neck. Colors: Black, Brown, Dark Dun, Grizzly Variant, Dun. $20 each. Saddles $15 plus a free hen patch. Super buy.

New! Cam Sigler's Bubble Cones. Just in. These look sort of like the tops to a salt and pepper shaker from the diner. ( Now there is an off the salt and peppers to use as fly tying materials, pretty soon there won't be any salt or pepper across NJ-PA-NY). Anyway, these are fat head cones with holes. Very large, use on those giant flies for pike and salt water. 1/2" , 3/4" , 5/8". $6.50 each.


Fishing Report:

I have been trying to catch the drakes-hexes on Skinney Atlas. Lots of bugs, use west boat ramp and float tube. Not much action so far. Should be good the next 10 days or so for bugs. West Branch of Delaware is low and very hot before dark. Look for lots of sulfurs. I had good luck on Owasco Inlet this week before dark. Caught about 20 or so small wild rainbows, best fly was a sulfur. Prince bead okay. I have heard that Cayuata Creek is fishing really good around dark. Try olives at falls in Fall Creek before dark.


Shows: I will be at Summerfest at the CFFCM on Sat. Aug 28. Labor day weekend. Come out for lots of bargains. 9-3pm. Usually I can find lots of old books and some interesting buys plus old flies. I will again have a booth, our 4th year for this show. Lots of fun. You can register for a drawing for a Jack Yelle print with the Guild. It has a patch, the picture, the whole nine yards. Tickets are 3 for $5 I think. Email the Judy DV Smith for more info.

November 12-14 Plan on attending the Arts of the Angler: Fly Fishing University in association with the Catskill Fly Fishing Center and the Catskiill Fly Tyer's Guild is presenting this new show dedicated to books/collectables, fly tying and cane rods. Live auction and banquet to benefit the CFFCM Saturday night. Boatloads of tyers, special classes and instruction. Danbury, CT, Sheraton Inn. More to come.

I will be at the Chautauqua F;y Fishing Assembly, Oct 15-17 as a demo tyer. Smaller show, speakers to include: John Shewey,Jim Teeny, Rick Kustich, Chris Helms, Fishy Fullum. I will be showing how to tie some fall patterns. Other demo tyers: Kim Boal, Mark + Misa and more. Details to follow.

I will also be a demo tyer at the CFFCM in September. I will put a posting up later. I plan on doing some flies with a crap load of plastic in it just because Ralph Graves hates those kinds of flies.


As usual if you would like to be deleted for any reason contact me. For info on ordering contact:

Mike Hogue

Badger Creek Fly Tying

622 W. Dryden Road

Freeville, NY 13068,, 607- 347-4946