Making a custom dubbing blend is one of the finer points of fly tying.
You could buy one of the zillion different blends out there already, but none of them will be like yours. You can find a little pride in adding that special blend to your flies. You’ll truly be one step closer to a custom tie.
If you have a pile of furs and synthetic materials the possibilities are endless. If your like me and have the problem of buying more than you’ll ever use in a lifetime, you’ll have plenty. In reality you don’t need a lot of material. A lot of things are sold in small packages. A pinch of this a pinch of that and your on your way. You can always bum some off your friend that has the lifetime supply.
The next time your looking at fly tying materials take a look real close. Pull the stuff out of the package and feel it. Stiff hair will make a course blend and soft hair will make a fine blend. The course stiff hair will not dub tight and will stick out from the hook creating a rough and “buggy” look. Fine hair will dub tight to the hook and create a smoother more defined profile. Also take a look at synthetic materials. They come in a variety of textures. Take note of the sheen or shininess of the materials. The synthetics reflect a lot more light than natural furs and can be used to add a good deal of sparkle to your blend. The variety of sheens, textures, and color options could make your head spin.
You would do good to have a few tools. A pair of scissors for cutting the synthetics and longer hair down to size so that they dub to your liking. An electric hair clipper works great for shaving hair off the hide. If the hairs are extra long you can shave off the top layer first and take the rest off on the second pass. This is an easy way to cut the length of the hairs in half when dealing with a whole fur. When I started I used to blend by hand, but a coffee grinder will make real quick work of the process. Just throw in a little of this and that and pulse the button a couple of times. Don’t pack to much in there otherwise it will not blend well.
If your looking to delve a little deeper into the art of fly tying you can whip up a batch of homemade dubbing. This bit of craftsmanship will take your fly tying to another level.