Notes on blending…

Translucence Catskill Series: Atherton No. 3 silk blend, Legartun Fine oval gold tinsel, wood duck flank and Collins Dun Cree tied with white Ephemera silk on a size 12 Daiichi 1182 hook.

A commenter raised some questions yesterday about silk dubbing and blending it for natural colors, so I decided to do a short post on those topics. The only current manufacturer I am aware of for pure silk dubbing is the Kreinik Company of Parkersburg, West Virginia. Their main product line is related to sewing and crafts, but various items are useful for fly tying.

You may order dubbing from their website but they don’t sell directly, they transfer your order to a dealer (a craft and sewing shop typically), not all of whom stock the dubbing. I suggest e-mailing Kreinik to ask for a stocking dealer as close to you as possible. Creative fly tyer and author Harrison Steeves uses their metallic braids and ribbons in many of his unique and effective terrestrial fly patterns.

Translucence Catskill Series: My Quill Gordon uses a blend of yellow and dark dun silk dubbing, Coq-de-Leon tailing, wood duck flank and Collins dark Barred Dun hackle, tied with white silk on a Daiichi 1182 hook.

I blend dubbing materials using a small electric coffee bean grinder. Blending may also be done by hand, simply by mixing materials with your fingers. I prepare silk dubbing for blending the same way I prepare Antron dubbing for blending; by pulling some of the material out from a clump in my hand in very thin veils of material. Using my larger all purpose tying scissors, I make cuts across the veil approximately one quarter inch apart, letting the short, fine fibers drop into the hopper of my blender. When I have the amounts I want for the colors I am blending, I will spin it briefly with the blender; just a touch on the switch to spin it for a second and then shut off. I take the blend out and check the color, adding more of whatever color or colors I want to get the mottled shade I want, then spinning it briefly again.

Translucence March Browns CDC and Catskill Style catching the morning sunlight.

To get the most out of this type of experimentation, catch a few mayflies during the various hatches on your home waters and blend to match their coloration. Keep notes too, and a small, labeled sample of your proven dubbing blends to use for a color template when its time to make a new batch. My basic blend notes indicate my name for the blend (the hatch I am matching) and the ingredients and proportions, for instance: Hendrickson Blend – 2 parts light reddish tan fox fur, 1 part tan Antron, 1/2 part fox gray underfur.

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