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Fly Patterns
Discovering Dubbing Loops


The DDH Leech

Created by Stu Thompson



Hook:        Daiichi 2220 #8-#4

Thread:     MFC 8/0 or 6/0 color to compliment body

Tail:          Marabou, color to match

Body:        Dubbing Mix consisting of either Angora goat or rabbit in a variety of colors, Icelandic Sheep under fur, and Holographic Gold Ice Dub

Eyes:         Gold or silver bead chain


Tying Note:  The DDH Leech can be tied in various color schemes depending upon the species one is chasing for the burnt orange/brown version mix equal parts of yellow, light olive green, dark tan, and light brown angora or rabbit.  Angora for larger patterns, rabbit for smaller versions.  Once mixed add black Icelandic Sheep under fur to darken or "dirty" it. Add about 10% holographic gold Ice Dub for highlights to complete the blend.

The DDH Leech emerged from the vise of Manitoba fly fisher Stu Thompson.  Stu is an innovative tyer who pursues a wide spectrum of fish from freshwater drum to trout.  His simple but deadly DDH Leech has a far reaching appeal to fish of all species and utilizes dubbing loops, one of the most versatile techniques available to the fly tyer.

A source of frustration to some, dubbing loops offer numerous benefits.  Dubbing loops create durable patterns capable of withstanding a solid chewing from numerous fish.  When used in conjunction with one of the numerous dubbing mixes available dubbing loops form scruffy translucent bodies, a key component to many successful patterns.  A dubbing loop controls less manageable materials such as aftershaft feathers and rabbit fur.  Tyers can fashion dubbing loops out of materials beside thread.  Crystal Flash loops radiate an inner glow while wire loops turns brittle peacock and pheasant tail patterns into teeth defying wonders.  Materials typically not considered in the same vein can easily be combined via the dubbing loop.  Crystal Chenille and dubbing are two personal favorites.  Utilizing Marc Petitjean’s Magic Tool tyers now use dubbing loops to further combine a myriad of materials including CDC and dubbing.  The permutations and combinations are endless.


Dubbing loops are simple to master providing you follow some basic guidelines.  To form a dubbing loop pull down a manageable length of tying thread, no more than 5 inches.  Bring the tying thread around the forefinger and return it straight back up to the hook shank.  Wind the tying thread backward in close touching turns.  Once the loop is formed rotate the loop to the top of the shank and wind back as though securing a tail.  Winding back closes the loop at the shank and helps keep the dubbing in place.  I rarely use dubbing wax feeling it muffles the translucent effect we are aiming to suggest.  I do use dubbing wax though to control fussy materials such as aftershaft feathers.  The key is keeping the dubbing loop short and under control.  Long dubbing loops are tough to manage and difficult to wind.  If a pattern appears to dictate longer loops build the body in a series of smaller loops.  For smaller demure flies it is possible to split some brands of tying threads and insert the dubbing material into the split thread.


With the loop formed insert a dubbing whirl or twister into the base of the loop and let it hang.  Take a pinch of dubbing and open the loop just enough to slide the dubbing fibers between the thread strands.  Slide the dubbing up the loop and into position at the hook.  The second clump can be the catalyst for problems.  Avoid the natural inclination to place the second application at the rear of the first.  Instead open the loop at the base of the loop just enough to sandwich the second clump and slide it up into position behind the first.  Continue this process until the loop is loaded and balanced.  There should be no peaks and valleys of dubbing material.  Pulling down slightly on the dubbing tool also helps keep materials in check.  Spin the dubbing tool until the dubbing fibers radiate out in a perpendicular manner creating the dubbing noodle.  Wind the dubbing noodle forward forming the body.  Once the dubbed body is completed tie off the dubbing noodle and trim the excess.


The fly tyer has a number of tools available to ease the dubbing process.  Dubbing whirls are a simple tool consisting of spring arms mounted in a weight.  The weighted whirl pulls down on the loop, pinching and controlling the dubbing.  A quick flick of the wrist sets the whirl in motion, inertia twisting it tight.  Be careful with some materials as the inertia of the whirl is capable of casting materials from the loop.  Combat these dubbing tornadoes by pinching the loop below the last application of material and spinning the whirl to take up any slack.  When the loop is twisted tight below the dubbing release the pinch, the twist carries up the loop in the blink of the eye binding the material in place.


Dubbing hooks are ideal for combining dissimilar materials such as dubbing and Crystal Chenille.  Making sure the Crystal Chenille is at least one inch longer than the dubbing loop pull the Crystal Chenille parallel to the loaded loop and up under the dubbing hook.  Bring the Crystal Chenille perpendicular across the loop.  Spin the hook a couple of times locking the Crystal Chenille in place.  Continue twisting the dubbing hook forming the dubbing noodle.  Using dubbing hooks in this manner has become a personal favorite.  The dubbing hook is my preferred tool when working with materials that might be prone to flying out of the loop such as marabou and aftershaft feathers. 


Electrical pliers are another useful too and can be used to grasp the completed dubbing noodle.  They are ideal for twisting pheasant tail or peacock herl within a wire loop.  Pull the peacock herl or pheasant tail parallel to one side of the wire loop and clip the material to the base of the loop.  Spin the loop a couple of times to lock the herl in place.  Wind the body forward 2 or 3 times and then spin the loop again.  Using this approach helps minimize herl or fiber breakage.

Tying Instructions

1) Cover the hook shank with tying thread to create a firm foundation.  Using figure eight wraps, bind the bead chain eyes in place two eye widths back from the hook eye.  Apply cement to further lock the eyes in place.

2) Strip a clump  from the side of a single marabou plume.  Tie the marabou in place behind the bead chain eyes and secure backwards down the hook shank to the bend.  The finished tail should be at least shank length.  Return the tying thread to the mid portion of the hook.  Pull down a 3 to 4 inch length of thread and double it around the forefinger.  Return the tying thread directly back up the shank to form a dubbing loop.  Begin winding the tying thread backwards to the tail.  Rotate the loop to the top of the shank and secure back to the tail, closing the loop in the process.

3)  Insert a spring loaded dubbing twister into the the dubbing loop and allow it to hang.  Place a clump of dubbing into the loop at the bottom near the dubbing tool.  Slide the dubbing up into postion at the hook shank.  Prepare a second clump and insert it once again into the bottom of the loop and slide upward.  Continue this process until the dubbing loop is full and evenly balanced.  Dubbing wax is not required as the tension caused by the hanging dubbing twister will hold the dubbing in place.

4)  Once the dubbing loop is loaded spin the dubbing twister tight, locking the dubbing in place.  When the dubbing fibers radiate perpendicular to the loop stop the spinning process. 

5) Wind the dubbing noodle forward to form the body.  Figure eight the dubbing noodle in and around the eyes.  Tie off the excess dubbing noodle at the hook eye.  Take a dubbing teaser such as Velcro and roughen the body to suggest the flowing body of a leech while providing further translucence and shine.

6)  Build a neat head, whip finish and apply head cement.  To train the long strand dubbing fibers and further augment the leech profile microwave a cup of water for 30 seconds and dip the completed fly.  Sweep the fibers back along the fly and allow to dry.  This method works well on other long strand dubbing mixes as well.

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