Composite Dubbing Loop Steelhead Fly – Part II

Winter (summer) steelhead fly tied with composite dubbing loop.

Winter (summer) steelhead fly tied with composite dubbing loop.

First thing I’d like to do is thank folks for your encouragement on our recent post on composite dubbing loops. Second thing is to note that I had a nice conversation with Ben Paull of OPST and thanked him for the great YouTube videos produced by him and his mates, especially Jerry French. Many of us who are tying Intruder style flies and fishing  using Skagit style casts owe these fellows a debt of gratitude for paving the path many of us take for granted now.

Composite loops have always been a mixed bag for me—Jerry French’s vast experience has ben an inspiration as well as a huge help—I’m still far from catching up to his skill level and probably never will. What’s most important  is for each of us to learn fun and useful new techniques, and this is precisely why I’m creating these posts—to inspire others like me who are struggling with composite loops.

What I’m about to do is lay out the process of tying a steelhead fly that will fish for winter and summer fish, using a single composite dubbing loop—starting with the recipe.

Shank: OPST 32 mm dumbbell eye shank

Wire: OPST Trailer wire

Hook: #4 Gammie or OPST Swing Hook

Eyes: Hareline Double Pupil eyes – small

Thread: Danville’s 210 D white

Wing: navy blue rabbit strip

Trigger point dubbing: STS Dub Fl. Pink and Ice Dub UV Purple

Substrate: UV Ice Dub Lavender

Motion first stage: Senyo’s Barred Predator Wrap(trim to 1.5 inch)

Flash accent: Ice Dub Steelie blue

Motion second stage: OPST Barred Ostrich Drab (trim to 2.0 inch)

Scrim topping: Ice Dub UV Purple

The two materials shown here will form the first stage of our dubbing loop - a brightly colored trigger point at the butt of the fly.  I’ve used two materials, the STS and the Ice Dub, because they make a very sparkly sheen and I’m a fan of blending dubbing colors to make unique color shades.

The two materials shown here will form the first stage of our dubbing loop – a brightly colored trigger point at the butt of the fly. I’ve used two materials, the STS and the Ice Dub, because they make a very sparkly sheen and I’m a fan of blending dubbing colors to make unique color shades.

In this photo, the two dubbings are roughly laid together on a 3x5 index card.

In this photo, the two dubbings are roughly laid together on a 3×5 index card.

•In this photo, the two dubbings are neatly aligned at the top of the card, acting as a guide for composing the loop.

• In this photo, the two dubbings are neatly aligned at the top of the card, acting as a guide for composing the loop.

This is a section of Senyo's Barred Predator Wrap ready to trim to 2.0 inches.

This is a section of Senyo’s Barred Predator Wrap ready to trim to 2.0 inches.

Trim to 1.5 inches.

Trim to 1.5 inches.

Lay down a scrim layer of UV Lavender Ice Dub—make it about one inch long.

Lay down a scrim layer of UV Lavender Ice Dub—make it about one inch long.

The Senyo's Predator Wrap fibers are neatly laid on the base (scrim) with 80%/20% relation to the centerline.

The Senyo’s Predator Wrap fibers are neatly laid on the base (scrim) with 80%/20% relation to the centerline. This photo shows a dab of Steelie Blue Ice Dub ready to place on top of the Predator Wrap. This will serve to add blue flash to the composite.

 

The Steelie Blue Ice Dub is placed on the Predator  Wrap.

The Steelie Blue Ice Dub is placed on the Predator Wrap.

Now it is time to lengthen the base layer (scrim) of the loop by adding a one inch section of UV Lavender Ice Dub.

Now it is time to lengthen the base layer (scrim) of the loop by adding a one inch section of UV Lavender Ice Dub.

Trim a section of OPST Barred Ostrich Plume from the stem, probably 2.0 inches, then trim the loose material to a length of 2.0 inch.

Trim a section of OPST Barred Ostrich Plume from the stem, probably 2.0 inches, then trim the loose material to a length of 2.0 inch.

Lay the ostrich plume fibers on the Ice Dub layer neatly with the same 80%/20% relationship to the centerline.

Lay the ostrich plume fibers on the Ice Dub layer neatly with the same 80%/20% relationship to the centerline.

This is a pinch of UV Purple Ice Dub that I will place on top of the Predator  Wrap and ostrich Plume sections of the composite.

This is a pinch of UV Purple Ice Dub that I will place on top of the Predator
Wrap and ostrich Plume sections of the composite.

The Purple UV Ice Dub is laid on top and will act as a binder to keep the Predator  Wrap and Ostrich fibers from falling off when I pick this material up and place it in a waxed loop.

The Purple UV Ice Dub is laid on top and will act as a binder to keep the Predator
Wrap and Ostrich fibers from falling off when I pick this material up and place it in a waxed loop.

This is a 32mm OPST Dumbell shank, in a regal vise. When available (soon) the OPST shank Chuck will make this even more secure. I've used Danvilles 210 D white thread to lash down OPST Intruder Wire and super-glued the material after doubling it back.

This is a 32mm OPST Dumbell shank, in a regal vise. When available (soon) the OPST shank Chuck will make this even more secure. I’ve used Danvilles 210 D white thread to lash down OPST Intruder Wire and super-glued the material after doubling it back.

Lash on the Double Pupil Dumbell Eyes on the underside of the shank. Use a figure 8 and wrap around the base of the criss-cross wraps and add super glue at this stage.

Lash on the Double Pupil Dumbell Eyes on the underside of the shank. Use a figure 8 and wrap around the base of the criss-cross wraps and add super glue at this stage.

Form a dubbing loop at the rear of the shank, I agree with Jerry French's recommendation of a 5 inch loop.

Form a dubbing loop at the rear of the shank, I agree with Jerry French’s recommendation of a 5 inch loop.

I pick up the trigger point portion of the dubbing and slip it into the loop, the wax will hold it in place. I also prefer to use an OPST Dubbing Tool because it is heavier and makes the spinning process more reliable.

I pick up the trigger point portion of the dubbing and slip it into the loop, the wax will hold it in place. I also prefer to use an OPST Dubbing Tool because it is heavier and makes the spinning process more reliable.

Holding the loop open with my right hand, and the dubbing tool hooked onto the thread, I pick up the rest of the loop in my left hand and insert it into the loop.

Holding the loop open with my right hand, and the dubbing tool hooked onto the thread, I pick up the rest of the loop in my left hand and insert it into the loop.

This is how my loop looks when I first spin it. Jerry's loops look much nicer. I will gently pick this out and release the long fibers with a bodkin or the point of a whip finish tool.

This is how my loop looks when I first spin it. Jerry’s loops look much nicer. I will gently pick this out and release the long fibers with a bodkin or the point of a whip finish tool.

Much nicer now that I have picked the long fivers loose. Next step will be to fold the material before winding it around the shank.

Much nicer now that I have picked the long fivers loose. Next step will be to fold the material before winding it around the shank.

I keep a small bowl of water   at hand and wet my fingertips to help fold the material prior to winding it like a hackle.

I keep a small bowl of water at hand and wet my fingertips to help fold the material prior to winding it like a hackle.

I'm starting to wind the composite and have just about finished wrapping on the trigger point in this photo.

I’m starting to wind the composite and have just about finished wrapping on the trigger point in this photo.

I have finished wrapping the composite and it looks like heck, all wadded up, but I will gently pick it out in the next step to free the long fibers.

I have finished wrapping the composite and it looks like heck, all wadded up, but I will gently pick it out in the next step to free the long fibers.

Much better—now that I've picked the loose fibers free to flow.

Much better—now that I’ve picked the loose fibers free to flow.

Here is my rabbit strip wing, placed loose on top of the fly just to measure before tying it in. I will shift from white thread to Fl. blue to match the rabbit strip now. and lash about 1/8 inch of the tip of the strip on top of the dumbbell eyes.

Here is my rabbit strip wing, placed loose on top of the fly just to measure before tying it in. I will shift from white thread to Fl. blue to match the rabbit strip now. and lash about 1/8 inch of the tip of the strip on top of the dumbbell eyes.

The rabbit strip is tied in and super glued with blue thread. Note that I rigged the hook point up but it can be rigged down also.

The rabbit strip is tied in and super glued with blue thread. Note that I rigged the hook point up but it can be rigged down also.

Here is a view of the fly as it will swim. The rabbit strip will wiggle and flow in the current but must not be long enough to foul the up-turned hook. Rigging the hook down would allow me to use a slightly longer rabbit strip.

Here is a view of the fly as it will swim. The rabbit strip will wiggle and flow in the current but must not be long enough to foul the up-turned hook. Rigging the hook down would allow me to use a slightly longer rabbit strip.

I hope these step by step photos help. These flies swim nicely and wiggle enticingly. The steelhead approve too; I’ve hooked two fish on this fly so far (three days on the water) but have yet to bring one close for a photo.

This is a modest sized fly tied on a very short shank, and I will next tie a larger Intruder style fly on a longer shank. Can these composite loops be used on tubes?  You bet they can. More to follow, and thanks for your interest, support, and patience.

Jay Nicholas January 2016

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10 Responses to Composite Dubbing Loop Steelhead Fly – Part II

  1. jackson darvey says:

    while these flies do look lovely, in my opinion they are quite a bit overdressed. I think not only would they look alot better with about 1/2 the dubbing but functionally they would be better overall as well, swimability and castability which are only words a fisherman would use.

    still a great tie, and tutorial. thanks jay always a pleasure

  2. Zach Caffall says:

    This is a gorgeous fly, I’m recently getting into tying steelhead flies and mostly am just competent in the ho bo Spey style but really want to learn how to tie this one. The step by step photos are awesome. Can you recommend a video on how to do the dubbing loops? I guess the part I’m confused on is how all the materials stay together like that. I saw you said something about wax but I have no experience with that. Thank you! And keep up the awesome work.

  3. Guy says:

    Great step-by-step ! Composite loops can appear intimidating ; the Predator Wrap material is intriguing – looking forward to giving it a swim. Thanks.

  4. Tc says:

    I recommend looking at some of the video on the opst site on how to tie the hook into the rabbit strip without wrapping it in thread. It’s a very cool technique that allows you to change out the hook on a shank tied fly as you would with a tube.

  5. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Right on, thank you for noting this. JN

  6. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Nice job hooking and releasing that gorgeous steelhead yesterday. JN

  7. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    OPST hosts many videos that help me too. A very thin layer of dubbing scrim under and on top of the longer materials help hold the wad together as you pick it up to place it in the loop. JN

  8. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    I often tend to the side of overdressing my flies—your remark about going sparser than I’ve shown here is on target. This particular fly is not difficult to cast, but it would sink a tiny bit faster if dressed more sparsely. Thanks very much for your note, and keep the feedback coming because it helps me always. JN

  9. Ray Urvina says:

    For me, any tutorial that I view has something I can use and benefit from. In perspective, all comments made by others about size, color, and castability, when combined gives a better impression of the fly. Keep the excellent “How To’s” coming.
    RU

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