As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm currently a product tester for Tie the Fly. The man behind the site is considering carrying a new type of dubbing, and put out the call for tyers interested in using some samples to tie up some flies. Just a few days after getting in touch, I received a small package with nine tiny baggies of dub inside.
As luck would have it, I didn't get to sit down and really work with it for a few days, but when I finally did, I made a commitment to rigorous and scientific research, and tried to tie a few of several different flies, representing all major categories.
When I opened the dub and handled it, it reminded me vaguely of mature seal, except less buggy, less translucent, and not sparkly at all. Now that may sound like a complete put down, but it isn't. The texture is very similar, though less slippery, and therefore easier to work with. The fibers are long, but soft, meaning the dub can be as buggy or as smooth as you like. The lack of flash makes it less eye-catching than seal or synthetics, but for day to day fishing, that might be a desirable characteristic. In any event, the best way to see what you've got it to tie with it, so I quickly got out some hooks.
First up was dry flies. Now with the knowledge that this was icelandic sheep dubbing, I figured this material would behave like wool and become waterlogged and sink. Still, in the interests of objective review, I decided to at least give it a shot. Also, the fact that I'd been tying stimulators the night before and still had all the other stuff out on my bench also helped influence my decision.
A few tense minutes later, and I snapped this picture at the vise:
In this fly, I was going for a nice tight, even dub, and while it was a bit of a challenge, it didn't disappoint. It's bulkier than a typical dry dub like superfine, but probably about the same as the poly yarn I sometimes use for these flies. The hackle stem also buried itself nicely into the dub, which helps with durability.
While the dubbing will probably absorb water, I'm banking on it also absorbing plenty of floatant, in order to stay up top. Once I test these flies on the water, I'll know for sure.
Next, I decided to try tying a small nymph. I don't typically fish nymphs, but lots of people do, so as a tester, I felt I should try it out. I came up with a quick pattern in my head and got to tying it. I believe this one was tied on a #16, 1x long nymph hook.
Nothing too fancy here. I used a looser rope dubbing method than I did for the dry, and used a bit of fine wire to rib the abdomen. It's a bit hard to tell from the photo, but those are goose biot tails, starling hackle, and a black bead. I will probably be trying this one out over the weekend, and giving a report soon thereafter.
After that, I wanted to see how the dubbing would take color. Since the color selection provided was severely lacking in the earth tones department, I decided to try an olive soft hackle. After tying the body of the fly using white dubbing, I grabbed an olive prismacolor marker and went to work. After coloring the body, I finished the fly by adding the soft hackle and tying it off. The hackle I used here was a Coq de Leon Hen saddle.
The dubbing took the dye from the marker very well, and the color seems true. A day in the water will determine whether or not it is color-fast, however.
After that, I was still in the mood for soft hackles, so I tied another, smaller example, using one of the colors of dub I hadn't yet opened. Here's the starling & purple:
After this, I wanted to see how well the different colors of dubbing would blend together, so I tried tying a second, larger nymph. I mixed the black and the burnt orange dubbing and achieved a sort of dark brown. The dubbing took some time to mix evenly, but once mixed, it had a very nice effect. Once I had a nice small pile of the tone I wanted, I built my larger nymph (stone? hex? mostly just an attractor) with a lead underbody, and a body dubbed with a dubbing loop. Overall, I was very pleased with how this nymph turned out, and might even tie more of these to fish with, as they just look like they'd be a good pattern for larger trout in swift water.
That's the majority of what I've tied so far. I'll have some streamers to tie over the next few weeks, and I'll be fishing these flies as well in the mean time. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments, or email Tie the Fly directly, via the site linked above.