Tying tips: Dubbing loops

There is a lot of hype around the splitting of threads to form a dubbing loop. In my opinion, if you are using fine enough thread, you can simply create a loop in the thread, and you, or anyone else looking at your flies, will never be able to tell the difference.

To create a loop, simply use your fingers to hold a loop of thread away from the shank, and return the bobbin lead thread, to the shank, wind it around the base of the loop so formed, and continue winding. You could also introduce a thread loop using a separate thread of finer diameter than that which you are using to tie.

I use 14/0 thread most of the time. On delicate nymphs I use one of the “spider threads” for the dubbing loop.

dubbing loops (1 of 2)

dubbing loops (2 of 2)

One advantage of making a loop instead of splitting the thread, is that the winding up of your dubbing in the loop, will definitely not wind up the thread you tie with thereafter, meaning that it will continue to lay flat. There is a technique for ensuring that the split thread doesn’t remain wound up (and rope-like) after wrapping your dubbing, but I don’t think it is failsafe.

3 Responses

  1. It is always valuable to “challenge” accepted theory, the “we have always done it this way” frequently proves to be an inadequate argument in terms of improvement. Whilst I recognize that a dubbing loop has all manner of advantages in some circumstances I would suggest that the main “theme” against split thread tying is “difficulty”. There are however some tricks which make it much easier and although I have battled in the past I would suggest that it is very much a worthwhile method, particularly with respect to CDC.
    Firstly it is important to take the twist out of the thread, I tend to use Gordon Griffiths 14/0 thread for most of my dry flies, which is lightly spun. Secondly although I used to “flatten the thread” over my thumb nail I have found that holding it over the edge of the black plastic top of my super glue bottle makes splitting it a breeze. Any piece of black plastic with a square edge I am sure will suffice. The thread lies very flat and one can virtually divide the threads by number if required.. Dubbing loops are good but splitting the thread is as or more effective, provides less bulk and doesn’t require specialist tools such as a dubbing spinner. I think it is good that you and others challenge the norms, but in this instance I suspect that most people avoid thread splitting simply because they have yet to master it. I certainly didn’t get it right when I first tried and wrote it off as too troublesome, I would urge your readers not to make the same mistake, it isn’t too tough with a bit of practice and is exceptionally useful. KInd regards Tim

    1. Thanks for a valuable contribution Tim! Another aspect, is that while I used to spin by hand, I have now acquired a dubbing spinner, and find that I spin the loop much more tightly, simply because I have the tool to do it, and that it has caused me to no longer create the more wiry and loose dubbing that I was achieving before. So I think all round we need to keep all these methods in our arsenal rather than become fixed on one way of doing things.

      1. Absolutely all methods have value, personally I would use a loop for denser materials and thicker fibres, say hare’s ear dubbing and such, but use split thread for fine materials, antron fibres, CDC and such.

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