Dubbing Brushes

Dubbing Brushes

Viking Lars | Saturday, 15 January 2022

I’ve never used them. They are available in most shops ready-made, ready-to-go. Available in most colours and colour combinations and different materials to achieve different end goal. Somehow, irrationally as I often am, I’ve always considered them cheating - a bit like buying flies (irrational, I know). Besides I’ve always found that conventional dubbing loop techniques achieve the same.

I had an idea for a pike fly, which I could only realise by using dubbing brushes and to get past the “I’m cheating-feeling”, I decided to make them myself. I bought a Stonfo Dubbing Table a long time ago, but I never really tried it out. Last weekend I finally got myself together. And the dubbing brush offers some significant alternatives to a dubbing loop.

First of all, it’s easy to work with really long materials. The table allows one to place them just as needed and control every aspect of it. It’s also very easy to add several materials to the loop. Here I’ve used craft fur, flash, white “flash” black/chartreuse barred flash and bucktail. The flashes are obviously there for their flashiness, the white and chartreuse/black ones for colour reasons. The craft fur adds the bulk I was aiming for as well as mobility and the bucktail provides some “lift” and flare. When placing especially the craft fur between the wires, the length of the “butt-ends” on one side of the wire defines the final bulk of the “core” of the fly. And if you find it important - it's fluorescent as Hell.

Conventional dubbing loops them selves are quite strong and give durable flies. I spun the dubbing brushes on stainless steel wire. Because it’s so easy to work on the dubbing table, I also waxed the wire with some hard wax, which I’m sure adds strength. And the brushes are very, very strong. Spun of stainless steel wire it’s impossible to break them in a fly tying situation, but they also grab the materials very, very well, even the quite wide flashes I’ve used here.

The table of course defines how long you can make them. This one is just short of 10 inches (by eye). For the fly in the PoD that's enough for a fly and a half, two brushes make three flies.

The brushes aren’t exactly quick to make, but not time consuming either. They do speed up the actual tying time on the vice. I haven’t really thought about total production time for one fly, but I’d estimate somewhere around 20 minutes, which I think is fine. Keep in mind that the flies are very durable.

The technique of course allows for endless combinations of materials, flashes, other additions and colours. So far I’ve just made these white/chartreuse brushes and black ones. I look forward to trying out some perch-coloured ones - pike like perch.

Dubbing brushes are not only suited for big flies, although maybe the most obvious use. Wires come in different diameters, so you can make brushes for smaller flies as well. And you can use other cores than stainless steel. For salt water use, I'd use a hreavy thread.

One essential piece of advice is to keep the brushes sparse. The reason is the same as when using all other dubbing techniques - the more materials that are in direct contact with thread or wire means much stronger brushes, where materials won’t pull out. The flashes in this brush broke instead of pulling out when I tried. That’s fine for me.

If you’re interested, here’s the materials used for this fly:

Thread: White UNI 6/0.
Hook: Ahrex PR 351 4/0.
Tail: Bucktail, flash and longer, white synthetic fibres.
Back part: Dubbing brush - 3-5 turns depending on the bulk you want.
“Wings”: Cheap grizzle cock saddle feather, dyed chartreuse (very optional, but I think they look cool).
Middle part: Polar flash, pearl.
Front part: Dubbing brush - 3-5 turns depending on the bulk you want.
“Wings”: Cheap grizzle cock saddle feather, dyed chartreuse (very optional, but I think they look cool).
Head: Pro Sportfisher SoftHead and ProSportfisher FlexiEyes.

All in all, this is a very mobile fly and very importantly in the way I fish for pike, it flares a little when the retrieve is paused, which is very effective. Being 98% synthetic, it sheds very close to all the water is “soaks” when wet, even on the first backcast, making it quite easy to cast. For smaller flies I tie on an Ahrex 378 GB SwimBait, where I just tie a tail (same as above) and a one front part with 3-5 turns on dubbing brush and the same head.

I hope this has inspired some…

Have a great weekend!