Fly Tying Dubbing – Types and Uses

This post was last updated on December 3rd, 2022 at 07:42 pm

The types and uses of various fly tying dubbingLearn the Differences in Fly Tying Dubbing and When to Use Them

Using the correct dubbing for your flies can make a huge difference in how effective they are. If you use rabbit fur dubbing for your dry flies for instance, they are much more likely to take on water and sink prematurely. In this article we’ll go through all of the fly tying dubbing types and when to employ them in your various flies.

Natural Dubbing Materials and Uses

The best dubbing for dry flies is made from animals that spend a lot of time in the water. These animals fur will usually have a natural ability to shed water and will therefore allow your flies to float better and longer without any sort of treatment added. The same goes for animals that are land based and spend very little (if any time) in the water. Naturally animals without any evolutionary need for oily fur to shed water, will make for great nymph and wet fly dubbing and are likely to absorb water and sink faster.

There is no doubt, these days natural animal fur dubbing is used much less than synthetic varieties. The technology to create snynthetics has come a long way in the last 20 years. Many natural animal dubbing materials are not easy to find these days on the market. I have included some species that are rarely used in order to write as complete an article as possible.

Possum Dubbing

The common brushtail possum of AU. The fur of this animal makes great nymph dubbing. Image by: Peter Firminger
The common Brushtail possum of AU. The fur of this animal makes great nymph dubbing. Image by: Peter Firminger

This will typically come from the Australian possum which is much different than the American opossum we are familiar with in the US. The hair of this species tends to make great nymphs and has a natural buggy appearance because of the various fur lengths found in this dubbing material. This dubbing material is not normally used for most dry flies, because it does not shed water well and it does not offer the tight bodies that give dry flies a natural appearance on the water.

Muskrat Dubbing

Muskrat - The fur from this species makes great dry fly dubbing
Muskrat fur works well for tying dry flies and is an easy to use dubbing material. Image by: D. Gordon E. Robertson

Muskrat dubbing has an amazing ability to shed water. It will tie on to your hooks tightly and neatly and is considered among the top natural materials to use for great looking dry flies. Muskrat fur is the traditional grey coloring used in Adam’s dry flies. Even though muskrat fur is brown on the outside, the underfur does in fact include mostly grey.

Mole Dubbing

Mole fur is a very short, fine hair that works well for tying very small dry flies.


Beaver dubbing works well for dry flies. They have a fine underfur which makes an exceptional easy to dub with material.

Squirrel Dubbing

Squirrel fur works well for dubbing wet flies and nymphs that you want to look very “buggy”. This material is course and will not work well for dries, but it can make for some interesting bodies for large nymphs such as stoneflies. There are several species of squirrel dubbing available and they all have different color variations.

Synthetic Dubbing Materials

Synthetic dubbings are becoming more and more common each year. There are countless brands and varieties of synthetic fly tying dubbing available, so I will just go over a few different types.

Antron Dubbing

Wapsi antron dubbing
Antron dubbing made by Wapsi. Click the image to see which colors are available on Amazon.

A classic synthetic material that has been around for a long time. Antron is inexpensive and versatile and can be used on both dry and wet flies. Antron dubbing is very easy to use and can be found at pretty much anywhere that sells fly tying equipment. You should have no trouble getting this in any color you would like, plus you can easily blend colors to create your own perfect color to match the hatch.

Quick Descent Dubbing

Hareline quick descent dubbing

This dubbing is actually made from aluminum. If you have been searching for the perfect dubbing for tying nymphs that you want to get down deep, this might be the ticket. It has a natural shiny appearance and is incredibly easy to dub with. This is an interesting alternative to wrapping your flies in lead, because it will not add the extra bulk a lead wrapped wire would.

Ice Dub

Ice dub dubbing
These Ice dubbings are offered by Hareline. As you can see there are a large variety of colors. Click the image to check them out on Amazon.

Ice dub has a way of gathering light and giving your flies a nice sheen. This material is typically used for tying a variety of nymph and streamer patterns. You can also blend this with other dubbing types to create your own less shiny and sparkly dubbing mix. This material is great and I use it for a lot of fly types. I find it makes amazing caddis larva, and has endless uses for tying steelhead flies.

Summary: As you can see there are a lot of different dubbing types for tying flies. If you are looking for a natural appearance, you could opt for some of the natural animal fur varieties or antron. If you are seeking something a little more flashy to catch the eye of your quarry, you should opt for some Ice Dub or one of the other types of synthetic dubbing types,