Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dubbing, coffee mills and color

As fly tyer's we use a lot of dubbing for certain styles of flies. I know it's not a big expense but it does cost. It also is sometimes hard to find that 'right color' for what you're tying. A friend told me about this technique several years ago and I soon after started searching the internet. There were quite a few references to it out there. What I want to do is relate how I have come to make dubbing. This is a step by step for somebody to follow. It is pretty simple. After you make a few batches you will have every color and shade you'll be able to imagine.

The batch  I was after is what I use for a 'Golden Stonefly' nymph.

You first need a coffee grinder. Walmart's got a cheap one that works fine. I would not recommend using it for coffee after you start making dubbing :)

(Never turn it on with the cover off and stay away from the blades with it plugged up.)

You can buy raw materials for your dubbing at craft stores and such for a few $$$. Remembering grade school art class you can make a lot colors from the 'color' wheel. ROY G BIV (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet)

Measure off a few strands of the colors you want to use. I go approx. one foot of each color.

Chop the strands into pieces about 1/4 of an inch.

Put them into your coffee mill. Be sure to pulse the mill. I found that running it 'wide open' caused it to not blend as well and it wrapped the fibers around the blade.

Make note of the ratios of each color when you get a batch you're particularly happy with. I use small craft store zip bags and write ratios and colors on them with a permanent marker.

Note: You can also use the mill to blend natural dubbing with synthetics and sparkles just as easily.

I will not say that this technique has stopped me from ever buying dubbing. There are types that this just isn't as good as but it will give you another avenue to become a little more self sufficient. It's sort of cool being able to make dubbing when you need it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Barney Barnwell Is This Week's Guest Tyer

Traci Barnwell, Barney's wife, shared these great example of Trash Flies with me on our Facebook group and was gracious enough to allow me to share them here. Great examples of being creative with flies and materials.

Hellgrammite Patterns

"Using a rubber band for the body section, then colored in with a permanent marker." 

Traci Barnwell


"There is a lot material in this 3/0 fly but the eyes are made with black dress-makers pins.

 They create the perfect 'stalk' in the eye pattern."

 Traci Barnwell

Barney's Beer Tab Fly

A special thanks to Traci and Barney for sharing their flies.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Few Thoughts About the South Holston Flyfishing Festival and the Weekend in General

Personally the timing of this show was great. The first week of school for me is always sort of stressful. I'm never sure why. Eighteen years of getting it ready you would think would make it a cake walk. Just never seems to be. Always details and loose ends that need to be taken care of.

It was nice to have a little side trip goal to get ready for to keep the pressure from rising too much. I love to fish the South Holston river. It's such a diverse fishery and gives you a chance to do so many different things through out the day. That was the backdrop to the heading over for the show.

Friday evening I tried to fish some when we first got there. The flow was high and the boat traffic particularly motorized was over the top. No joy Friday.

Saturday morning we got up early and headed for the show on the other side of Bristol Va. I had a really good time tying and talking to a lot of folks who in a lot of cases I hadn't seen in awhile.

Flies I tied:
Todds Wiggley Minnow with flip/flop
Headphone midges
Headphone nymph
117 Pellet head Woolly Buggers
Headphone caddis pupae
Lowes Twine Shrimp
and a few more I can't remember

Got to talk and hang out with some I really value knowing.
Dave Hise
Don Holbrook
John Conrad
Blake Boyd (Gentleman of the SoHo)
and loads of other friends and aquantances :)

Met Kelly Galloup. Felt like a real 'fan boy'. He's a really nice guy. Got to hear most of his presentation. Man knows big trout and the setups to get them.

Jack Prattor was honored for all he does to help people on the Holston with a shuttle, proceeds he's donated to Saint Judes. He is a true icon of the SoHo.

After it was all done we stayed on for Sunday. So you probably guessed I stayed and fished. Here's a few pictures from that.

I caught a lot of fish using a lot of techniques and flies. The monster fish that unfortunately didn't get photographed was a 20" brown caught on a dry. Not a safe place for me or the fish to setup a picture. Really nice fish. Fished pretty hard all day except for about a 30 minute delay for weather. I don't mind rain but when it started splitting trees across the river you got get to safety. No fish worth that head line in the local weekly paper.

It was great show and some really awesome fishing. :)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I'll be tying Trash Flies at the South Holston Fly Fishing Festival ~ August 13

Hope to see some of you there. Stop by the table and say hello :)  I'll be tying and demonstrating some patterns made of trash and re-purposed materials. Should be a good time and the proceeds go to a good cause.

Visit the shows website at:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Baitfish fly scraps get a second chance to be useful.

Here's a recycling tip that you can do and never leave the tying bench. Enrico Puglisi has come up with some wonderful fly patterns, materials, and techniques. I tried my hand at some for a trip to the salty end of North Carolina.

I was pretty pleased with the fly and how well it fished. Great baitfish pattern for sure. My only complaint was the amout of wasted material from trimming and sculpting the shape. The material just seem to mound up and scream at me 'don't throw me away'. Now it doesn't take a lot of prompting to get me to save material. My friends refer to my trash bag as a holding bin instead of a trash container.

So I bagged it up and stuck it away. It's rolled around to sulfur season and Comparaduns are the focus on the bench.  I don't tie my mayflies with adult tails but more often tie them with a 'tailing shuck'. Tied a few with poly yarn and remembered that scrap from earlier in the summer.

EP fiber and similar products I have found out from tying and subsequent fishing make excellent trailing shucks. So I strongly suggest that you save those fibers.

I am planning on chopping some up and adding to some home blended dubbing. 

Drift Boat Safety and Ferrying Class at Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education

Pre-registration is required. Visit to sign up.

The Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education will host a presentation on drift boats from 1-4 p.m. on Aug. 16, 2011. The presenter is retired Western Carolina UniversityEngineering and Technology Prof. Robert Dalley, a drift boat designer, builder and fisherman. He has been featured on the “Bob Caldwell Outdoors” segment of WLOS-TV news and recognized for his fishing expertise in Sports Illustrated magazine.

Drift boats, also known as McKenzie boats, are specialized fishing vessels powered by oars with a specialized shape, adept for maneuvering down mountain rivers.

Participants will learn about oar selection, anchor systems and anchoring selection, and hull materials and design and view the video, “A Smoky Mountain Drift Boat Adventure.” The program will cover design elements that make drift boats safer on the water and discuss how to handle whitewater situations. Prof. Dalley will explain ferrying and safe operation in an on-the-water demonstration.

Thx Melinda

Melinda Patterson
Center Director
Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education
PO Box 1600/1401 Fish Hatchery Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
(828) 877-4423