There are many different ways to add flash to a fly. How one applies the flash and how much flash is used is entirely up to the person sitting at the vise and what they are trying to accomplish with that particular fly. In this article I’m going to demonstrate some of the ways to add flash using a dubbing loop. Whether you want to use a lot of flash in something like a Flash Fly, or if you want to add just a little bit of sparkle to your fly, the dubbing loop works great.
In this example I’m going to use a dubbing loop to spin some Ice Dub Shimmer Fringe and place a cone head over it, then spin some Flashabou and wrap it over the cone head.
The first step is to create your dubbing loop. Apply a small amount of wax to the dubbing loop if you would like. Some people do not apply any wax, so you may want to try it with and without to see which you prefer. I most often use wax to help hold the materials in place in the dubbing loop before I start spinning, especially if I am spinning Flashabou, as it will slide right out of the loop if you are not careful.
I’m going to first use some of the Ice Dub Shimmer Fringe so I will need to prepare a small amount to place inside my dubbing loop. The Shimmer Fringe is about 4 inches long, so I cut it at the base. I’m going to split the shimmer fringe in half when I place it inside my dubbing loop, so the Ice Dub will end up being about 2 inches long once it’s wrapped onto the tube.
There are a few different way you can hold the material you are going to place inside the dubbing loop. I find myself using two different methods. Holding the materials with the back of your hand facing the loop (example A) can be better in some situations because none of your other fingers or knuckles get in the way of placing the materials inside the dubbing loop. When I have a lot of materials to place inside the dubbing loop i tend to use the method pictured below on the right (example B) because I can place more material (Arctic fox, Rhea, flash, Lady Amherst, Ostritch hurls, etc.) inside the loop using this method. I encourage you to try both methods and use the one that works best for you.
I open up the dubbing loop by holding the dubbing loop tool with my pinky finger, and opening the loop with my middle and index fingers (pictured below).
Once the loop has been opened up, I place the materials inside the loop, then pull the loop tight while still holding the materials in my hand. Once the materials are held tightly inside the loop I let go of the materials.
With the materials inside the dubbing loop, you can now adjust or spread out the materials that you are about to spin so that you get an even distribution inside the loop. Also at this point, you can slide the materials closer to the tube if needed. I like to center the Ice Dub Shimmer Fringe (and Flashabou) when placing it inside the loop (pictured below). A lot of synthetic materials tend to fall out of the loop and I have found that centering the material inside the dubbing loop is a good way to keep most of the material from falling out of the dubbing loop.
When you have the materials evenly distributed inside the loop, you can now start spinning. Be careful not to pull to tightly while spinning the materials. When you are spinning the dubbing loop you are make the loop shorter with each rotation of the dubbing tool. If you are pulling to tightly on the loop, and making it shorter at the same time you could cause the thread to break.
When you have finished spinning the Ice Dub inside the loop it will most likely need to be picked out a little with a bodkin to free up the Ice Dub that wrapped around the thread. (pictured above)
Once you have picked out the Ice Dub with your bodkin you will have to fold the Ice Dub to the left so that it doubles over itself (pictured below) allowing you to wrap it onto the tube.
Now we simply wrap the spun Ice Dub tightly forward on the tube (below).
Now I will add another layer of flash to this tube fly using some Flashabou in a dubbing loop. I placed a cone head over the spun Ice Dub to add some weight and to help prop up the next two layers of materials that I am going to wrap on this tube.
Just like before, select a small or large amount (depending on how much flash you want to add) of Flashabou and cut it about four to five inches long. We will split the Flashabou down the middle like we did with the Ice Dub, so the actualy length of the Flashabou will be about two to two and a half inches once the material is spun inside the loop.
Open up your dubbing loop and place the Flashabou inside the loop. Use the loop as your center line and split the Flashabou in half (pictured below)
Most of the time I insert the Flashabou towards the bottom of the opened up loop because the loop is largest near my fingers when opening the loop. Then I slide the materials closer to the tube and organize them a little before I begin spinning.
With the materials in the correct position, I spin the Flashabou inside the loop until the materials are held tightly in place. Use a bodkin to pick out the Flashabou that wrapped around the thread so that each strand is standing freely (pictured below).
Just like before with the Ice Dub, I fold the Flashabou back over itself to the left of the loop (below) to allow me to wrap it easily onto the tube.
Now I am ready to wrap the spun Flashabou over the cone head.
With 2 layers of spun flashy materials I am ready to finish this pattern using whatever techniques and materials are needed to finish the fly.
To finish this particular demonstration, I added a layer of spun Arctic Fox Fur and then added another cone head to finish it off.
The tube flies pictured below were tied in a similar manner as this example, but I added Ostrich hurls and Rhea into the dubbing loop with the final layer of Arctic Fox fur and wrapped the body with Edge Brite.