Special Dubbing

Anything fly tying...
tyeflies
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:09 am

Special Dubbing

Post by tyeflies »

Question about ‘original’ dubbing and whether actuality exceeds reputation. If you’ve used the original TUPS dubbing how would you describe its actual effectiveness compared to some substitute of the same?
Allan

BrownBear
Posts: 681
Joined: Sun Jun 23, 2013 8:16 pm
Location: Kodiak, AK

Re: Special Dubbing

Post by BrownBear »

I've never tried the Tups dubbing, but decades of tying and fishing experience make me wonder.

I've done a lot of experimenting with dubbing in other patterns and find a lot of latitude in what gives good results. I recognize the interest and value in pursuing original materials and ties, but I stop a little short of imbuing the results with any particular advantage in the face of a good sub.

I guess I'm mostly skeptical about "magical" patterns. When a pattern is right for a location or moment, it's really right. But I'm yet to experience one that is a solo performer all the time, or one that works better than all variations or subs simply due to the inclusion of one specific material. I'm open to learning, and would love to encounter such a pattern and material once in my life. But I'm still waiting.

St.Froid
Posts: 225
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 9:14 am
Location: North of Caribou east of the Allagash

Re: Special Dubbing

Post by St.Froid »

You've got to be brave to want to harvest the 'magic'. I don't have sheep but I do raise Scotch Highland cattle; and while I've never been kicked by a sheep while fondling his bits, I have been kicked by cows for doing it. You have to suffer for your passions, right?

I tried to be gentle. Maybe it was the bag wrench in my hand that made them nervous...

I did buy into the 'magic' when I was younger. My belief in the magic may have been tempered over the years but I do find that anytime I can tie from nature and harvest my own materials I fish those flies with more confidence and more enjoyment. I guess that's what makes the 'magic' happen for me.

Theroe
Posts: 760
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:46 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Special Dubbing

Post by Theroe »

St.Froid wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:58 am
You've got to be brave to want to harvest the 'magic'. I don't have sheep but I do raise Scotch Highland cattle; and while I've never been kicked by a sheep while fondling his bits, I have been kicked by cows for doing it. You have to suffer for your passions, right?

I tried to be gentle. Maybe it was the bag wrench in my hand that made them nervous...

I did buy into the 'magic' when I was younger. My belief in the magic may have been tempered over the years but I do find that anytime I can tie from nature and harvest my own materials I fish those flies with more confidence and more enjoyment. I guess that's what makes the 'magic' happen for me.
Im right there with you, St. Froid. Store bought does not work for me. Harvesting and trading are my preferred routes. ( many thanks again for the grouse tails and wings !!)
Eric Leiser’s book “Fly tying materials and how to care for them” is still one of my favorites.
“Time to go fishing”

catskilljohn
Posts: 4314
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2009 7:03 am
Location: Yardley,PA- Jeffersonville,NY

Re: Special Dubbing

Post by catskilljohn »

Allan,

First, I’d like to say....miss you man, I hope the move was a painless one!

As for the “original” tups? I can’t say I know anyone that even has any, I sure don’t. A few years ago there was a long and detailed thread on Clark’s board about it, someone even posted a photo of some vintage, actual dubbing in a cellophane package with a type written label, and it didn’t even look close to all the “subs” guys were making/posting.

I love the searching for the actual materials, sort of a hobby in a hobby, and the tups story is a good one, but I’m in the camp of what brown bear said, that subs can and do make a good fishing fly.

Glad to see you posting man! CJ
"Gentlemen,remove your hats,this is it"
"This is where the trout was invented?"
"Oh he existed in a crude,primitive form in Waltons England"
"But this is where they painted spots on him and taught him to swim"

bearbutt
Posts: 533
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:36 pm

Re: Special Dubbing

Post by bearbutt »

I don’t think there’s any practical way to measure the effectiveness of traditionally derived materials over artificial materials.  Where it matters for me is the pleasure that comes from sourcing, making, and blending those traditional materials, and researching their history.  Certain hooks, threads, tinsels, and above all feathers and dubbing mixes have evocative histories that make the long winter break a pleasurable and sustainable one.  

I’m not a hunter, but I wish I was; my dad was an excellent wingshot and trapper, but my mom said no guns in the house, and my wife said the same thing.  I still have some of my dad’s traps, though, and parts of a muskrat pelt I trapped 50 years ago, and dragged into the kitchen one day with unbridled glee.  The look on my mother’s face was unforgettable.  My dad showed me how to skin it—a mesmerizing experience for a ten year old kid, seeing for the first time how the fur met the flesh.

Over the years I befriended hunters and trappers and farmers who keep livestock, and they’ve all been a great source of materials I need.  The stuff, even the ‘wild’ stuff in tying shops, is pretty much standardized.  There is nothing like going through a garage of deer pelts (like Chris Helm had in Ohio) to find the perfect patch for Haystacks, or asking a trapping wholesaler in Minnesota to go through his inventory of 800 red foxes to find a vixen with a big pink patch.  “You want WHAT?” is the usual response to a nuanced query.  But with a little explanation and patience, everything you need can be found:  Tup’s wool, Chadwick’s 477 yarn, Badger spade hackle, Buzzard quill, chocolate skunk, orangish-red woodchuck, wild dun CDC, October-killed whitetail for Haystacks, and perfect Jungle Cock eyes.  Even when you get seemingly perfect material, it’s maybe not the right color so you then get to learn all about dying.   It’s all out there for you.

It gets tricky when the material is now protected by law—like Heron and polar bear and Condor quill.  There are still legal ways to get these materials—but it isn’t easy.  But that’s part of the pleasure.

Living in the city, as I do, limits access to local wildlife.  Unlike St. Froid, I don’t have ready access to creatures of the sort that lives in northern Maine: no deer, no moose, no grouse.  The most common fur around me belongs to the genus rattus, the common black rat.  Rats OWN the city of Chicago, but they sometimes make serious mistakes about the things they eat, like this one did when chowing down on live electric wires:

  Image

And there are cars they have to contend with—sometimes all you find on the street when walking the dog is a pitiful rat’s ass:

Image

So a lot of my sourcing adventures involve finding the right people who can get the stuff I need, and explaining to them the particulars of it all.  This is a lot harder than it seems.  Take Tup’s wool: in addition to the wool from a ram’s privates, you need lemon spaniel underfur, and red mohair or seal.  Here’s a patch of original Tup’s blend mentioned by CJ:

  Image

The Tup’s wool itself  is not too hard to find, and it only took a few inquiries to get me a bag full of this exquisitely fragrant material.  Washing it involves soaking it through a series of hot baths to release the lanolin—something you want to do when you can open the windows and maybe suggest to the wife it’s a good time to visit her sister for the weekend.  You won’t forget that smell—ever.  Not because it’s ‘bad’ but because it’s truly unique—it could be the basis for a perfume like those based on Ambergris.  Here's some raw and cleaned wool beside each other (before carding). I wish there was a way you could add a fragrance to an image on the internet--like scratch-and-sniff ads in magazines:

Image

But just try to find fur from a lemon spaniel!  As my sheep person said to me—“those dog people—yeeech, they are so uptight!”  The original pattern calls for a lemon roan, which is very uncommon in the USA—thereby betraying the British origins of the Tups.  A geneticisit told me that the yellow gene is the same in either a spaniel or a retriever—so maybe it doesn’t matter all that much?  Still, the dog people I wrote to were almost without exception unhelpful.  When I sent a picture of the Tup’s blend to one, who asked to see it, she responded “it looks like pubic hair, you are crazy!”   I guess we’re all a little crazy in this business.  But that too is part of the fun.

Red mohair was easy to get—in France—where it is used for doll’s hair.  The internet today makes this kind of research and shopping almost too easy.  Still, everything takes time—you could spend a year or more just sourcing all the ingredients you need for some dubbing blends.  And if you tie salmon flies, you have my deepest sympathy.

One caveat about wild materials: you need to manage them with care. They come with fat, rot, bugs, and all kinds of troubles. I have a friend who sends me ducks that are sometimes too rancid to save--so I'll get a chair, go out on the sidewalk, and cut and pluck my way through the skin:

Image

All wild materials will then go into the freezer for a month--then the materials go into "Quarantine" boxes for maybe a year before they join the main stash.

Of course, there’s nothing to say flies tied with the original Tup’s blend will outfish a little pink seal blend—but it won’t be nearly as much fun sitting back with friends telling the story about how you got the fur from the private parts of a ram, or what happened when you dropped the cleaning bath pot in the kitchen.
 
bb

St.Froid
Posts: 225
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2016 9:14 am
Location: North of Caribou east of the Allagash

Re: Special Dubbing

Post by St.Froid »

That was a fantastic post. You mentioned 'sourcing' materials... my wife's cat, Orvis, is the rare barn cat that has made the transition from barn to house. She's a fierce defender of home and hearth and a week ago went charging into the cabinet under the kitchen sink and came back out with a Ermine. She was quite proud of herself and the Ermine has gone into the freezer until I can properly take care of it.

There aren't any gray squirrels this far north but we do have reds everywhere; they're not much bigger than a chipmunk and the cat is constantly trying to bring them into the house. Usually I clip some fur from them and give the carcass back to her.

bearbutt
Posts: 533
Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:36 pm

Re: Special Dubbing

Post by bearbutt »

St.Froid wrote:
Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:33 am
my wife's cat, Orvis, is the rare barn cat that has made the transition from barn to house. She's a fierce defender of home and hearth and a week ago went charging into the cabinet under the kitchen sink and came back out with a Ermine.
You have ermine in your kitchen? I'm almost afraid to ask what you might have out in the barn? Fishers? Wolves? Martians?

bb

User avatar
Barleywine
Posts: 340
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 10:38 am
Location: Wyckoff, NJ

Re: Special Dubbing

Post by Barleywine »

Great post bb! I wish that you had a camera pointed the other way in that last photo so we could see the expressions on the faces of people as they pass by the crazy guy plucking a duck on the sidewalks of Chicago.

–Chuck
"The secret to life is honesty and fair dealing. When you can fake that, you've got it made." ---Groucho Marx

tyeflies
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2017 10:09 am

Re: Special Dubbing

Post by tyeflies »

Hi guys.
Thanks for the welcome CJ. May not get back north now that I’m in n. Carolina and will miss old haunts and friends.
About the TUPS dubbing versus a similar material. You may remember my fishing buddy Mike (NY Angler). Well we were fishing a particular hole on the Willow. Now he’s a lefty so we were able to fish right next to each other. We were both using March Brown wets. Everything was the same except I caught some trout and some followed my fly. He did not. We compared flies and the body of his looked like a wet cat. The body on my fly was tied with TUPS dubbing. It sparkled as if alive. That experience was unintentionally as close to a realistic test as could be arranged.
Oh, and here’s some informations able about how I got some original TUPS: Back around 2003 or 04 this dubbing was discussed on a website, maybe here, Catskills Flies or another. Jeff Serena, haven’t seen any posts by him in years, tracked down the ingredients and sent some of the blend and recipe to me which I’ve since been able to duplicate. Anyway, make and try this stuff.
Allan

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