Creating a split thread dubbing loop

Getting ready to split some thread!

The Split thread dubbing technique can be used when you don’t want to add extra bulk to your fly. It also works well when you are applying material to the head of a fly such as a hackle collar. Keep in mind that all threads are not good for splitting. Here I am using a Danville thread which works just fine. This technique can be used for many different patterns, large or small, and the way you put the dubbing on will change the outcome.

Relaxing the thread

What it is doing is relaxing, and untwisting itself. Once you see which way it is going you can give it a little spin to help it along.

Once you have stopped your thread in the area where you want to start your dubbed body, let the bobbin hang down for a second, and you will start to see it spin. Grasp the bobbin and give it a little spin in the same direction that its looking to go (counter clockwise) until it untwists itself.

“Preparing the thread”

Flat thread is great for splitting, and as you can see here with a little untwisting it starts to flatten out.
Flat thread is great for splitting, and as you can see here with a little untwisting it starts to flatten out.
Run your fingernail down the strands towards the bobbin to smooth out the strands.
Run your fingernail down the strands towards the bobbin to smooth out the strands.
Now that these strands are flattened out, you can get ready to split.
Now that these strands are flattened out, you can get ready to split.

Splitting the thread

Take your bodkin and insert it into the thread.
Take your bodkin and insert it into the thread.

While holding your thread in one hand insert the point of your bodkin into the middle of the strands, then slide your bodkin down to separate.

Now slide the bodkin down closer towards the bobbin.

Holding the loop open

Once you have slid the bodkin down a few inches, remove it and replace it with your pointer finger to keep the thread loop open.
Once you have slid the bodkin down a few inches, remove it and replace it with your pointer finger to keep the thread loop open.
With the loop open, its time to add some dubbing.
With the loop open, its time to add some dubbing.

*It’s up to you if you want to use wax here. If so, you only need to wax one side of the thread.*

Hold open the dubbing loop with one hand, and add a pinch of dubbing.

Dubbing the loop

There are different ways you can dub this loop. Either create a dubbing noodle where you directly twist the dubbing onto the thread, a touch dubbing method where you use a little bit of wax, but for demonstration purposes; we are going to flatten out a little rabbit dubbing.

Insert a pinch of rabbit dubbing into the split thread.
Insert a pinch of rabbit dubbing into the split thread.

With your pointer finger still holding open the loop, take a pinch of rabbit dubbing and place it in between the two strands of split thread. Now take your thumb on the same hand and pinch the loop closed. I know it sounds complicated but its a lot easier than you think, because essentially what you are doing is you are holding the dubbing in-between the (now closed) loop. With the loop closed, slide the dubbing up towards the hook and if you find you have a gap, add a little more dubbing.

 

It doesn’t have to be full, you just want enough so that when you twist it it fills out.

How to twist dubbing

Once you have the dubbing loaded between the open split in the thread, take your two fingers and move them to the outside of the loop. Grasp tightly right at the base of the thread. This will hold everything closed. Keep them holding, right towards the tip of the bobbin. Hold that the thread loop tightly!

Hold the thread loop closed tightly one hand.
Hold the thread loop closed tightly one hand.
Now give the bobbin a good counter clockwise spin. But don't let go yet!
Now give the bobbin a good counter clockwise spin. But don’t let go yet!

Giving the bobbin a spin will twist the dubbing into a rope. Once the bobbin starts to slow down.. you can let go. Then grab the bobbin to stop it. Take a look at your thread loop now.

Pretty cool huh?!
Pretty cool huh?!

What’s happening here is the thread is spinning and twisting that dubbing between the two strands that you split. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look twisted enough, all you have to do is add tension again and spin it one more time.

Repeat the tension and twist until its pulling together tightly.

Once you have gotten the dubbing loop finished, grasp it by the end and cut the bobbin loose. Now you can either use your hackle pliers or fingers to wrap the dubbing loop forward just as if you were wrapping thread.

Wrapping the dubbing loop

With the loop grasped in your fingers or hackle pliers begin to wrap it forward.
With the loop grasped in your fingers or hackle pliers begin to wrap it forward.
Keep wrapping the dubbed loop forward, brushing back if needed.
Keep wrapping the dubbed loop forward, brushing back if needed.
Once you reach the stopping point you can tie off your material and, continue with your pattern.
Once you reach the stopping point you can tie off your material and, continue with your pattern.
Split loop dubbed soft hackle.

Doubling up the colors

What I like about split thread is sometimes I find myself tying the entire fly by splitting the thread, I will do one color for the body, one for the thorax and even split the thread for the hackle fibers.

Give it a try!

Once you finish one color, simply flatten and split your thread again. This time adding a different color or material.
Wrap it and brush back.
Wrap it and brush back.
A mix of dubbing colors.
A mix of dubbing colors.
Split loop October Caddis

As you can see the possibilities are endless, so dont be afraid to experiment.

Back to Fly Tying 101

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: