The following is a not for profit, unpaid, reenactment of an historical exchange between two dyed-in-the-wool, hard core fly tyers at a recent fly tying event. Enjoy.
You may recall that after the International Fly Tying Symposium, I wrote about the "incident" - when a gentleman, who shall no longer remain nameless, informed me that I dubbed wrong (see November 22, 2012 post). I was minding my own business at the time, tying flies during a quiet period, when my long-time fly tying friend Bill Ninke (name) walked up to me and said hello. We exchanged greetings, got caught up with each other, but I knew something was up as he was sporting a highly uncharacteristic Cheshire Cat grin. He was also carrying a saddle bag over his shoulder, which he usually does, but in this case it appeared to be holding more than the usual notebook and recently purchased fly tying materials.
After a bit, Bill says something to the effect, "Would you be offended if I told you that you dub wrong?" I smiled and said, "What? Of course not, you're probably right." And I thought to myself, This is going to be good. Bill has shown me so many outside-of-the-box, interesting tying methods and materials over the years, I knew I was in for another lesson in something I never thought about......and I was right.
Bill explained to me that as a right handed tyer, my thread - the portion between the hook and the end of my bobbin - twisted counter-clockwise one revolution for each time I wrapped it around the hook. He further explained that when I "twist" my dubbing on the thread to form a dubbing noodle, I twist it clock-wise, thus with each wrap of thread it counter-acts my efforts and likely loosens the dubbing I so carefully applied a few seconds before.
A light bulb went on in my head, and Bill smiled from ear to ear knowing he got through to his "Grasshopper." He then said, "Let me show you what I mean".....Bill is nothing if not prepared. He opened his saddle bag and pulled out a vise stem and base, and placed it in front of me on the tying table. The metal stem was bent in a "Z" like manner, so conveniently, the top part was horizontal. He then pulled two long shoestrings out of his bag of tricks - one tan and the other green.
Then, taking the ends of the two strings, he wrapped them over themselves a few times to lock them onto the top of the vise stem, as though wrapping thread on a hook shank when starting to tie a fly. He then began wrapping the two strings around the shank, and said with a smile, "See what's happening?" And with each wrap the strings twisted together in a counter-clockwise fashion, and in short order they looked like a green and tan candycane. A counter-clockwise candycane from his perspective - Bill also is a right handed fly tyer.
I said, "Holy shit! That is something I never thought about." And we both laughed. Bill then asked me, "Now do you know what I am talking about? You dub your thread wrong!" And we laughed some more.
And so I do dub my thread wrong; guilty as charged. At least according to the laws of physics. Then we discussed the matter, thoroughly. Bill was right on all accounts. However, the funny thing is, that although I do dub my thread in a clock-wise manner, and when I wrap the thread around the hook, it twists in a counter-clockwise manner, my dubbing noodle does not loosen or try to un-twist. Instead, it stays in a tight dubbing noodle, and even will create a segmented body when I wish.
So does my dubbing method defy the physics of phly tying? Not likely. After all, its just phly tying.
My explanation is simple - many years ago when I first started to tie flies, I probably found that if I didn't twist my dubbing very tight around the thread, it didn't stay tight because of the countering effect of the thread twist. So without thought, and being as stubborn as I am, I fought the counter twist by creating a very tight, compact dubbing noodle around the thread that remained independent of the counteractive effects as I wrapped it on the hook. It never occurred to me that maybe I should reverse the direction I twisted the dubbing on the thread.
Now, every time I dub my thread and wrap a body on a hook, I am instantly reminded that I dub my thread wrong.....all wrong.
But it works..........for me.
And Bill, thank you. You are one of a kind........the kind who's relentless quest to understand the mechanics of phly tying improves the tying skills of everyone who has the good fortune to learn from you.
See you at the show.