Making dubbing 101: a step-by-step by Doug Korn

Making dubbing from yarn is easy using a coffee grinder.  Buy one just for making dubbing, they are cheap, about $15. Experiment with different yarns yourself to find the right color, texture and float-ability desired for your fly tying needs.
Today’s goal is to make an orange sulphur dubbing for dry flies.


Materials needed.  All you really need is a coffee grinder and some yarn…


I use a 12 inch board to measure my “parts”.


I cut one part of orange yarn and ten parts yellow.


Then, cut the 11 pieces of yarn in 3/4 inch lengths.


Keep the 3/4 inch bundles nicely lined up so that they can be added to the coffee grinder in the proper 1 to 10 ratio. You will end up with about 15-16 bundles.


Add 3-4 bundles at one time to the grinder.  Turn it on and run it for about 20 seconds.  Grinding times will vary depending on your wool and the volume of yarn in the grinder.


You should end up with dubbing that looks something like this, with color blending and texture consistent throughout the batch.  Safety Note: always unplug your grinder before putting your hands in it. Repeat the steps above with the remainder of your bundles.


You should end up with some nice orange sulphur dubbing.  Here is the orange sulphur compared to my standard sulphur dubbing.


If you get this – you haven’t blended enough.  There is too much material in the grinder.  Remove some and grind some more.  Trial and error is necessary until you get a feel for how much material is too much.  Take notes on your dubbing blends so that you can repeat your recipes when needed.


As you can see here this batch needs a little more blending to be consistent throughout the blend.
Be careful though, too much grinding creates heat and the heat will melt and clump the yarn/dubbing.


I ended up making two batches of orange sulphur dubbing.  Below is the darker of the two.  This was 2 parts orange to 10 parts yellow.


The finished dubbing…


On the left 1 part orange to 10 parts yellow and on the right 2 parts orange to 10 parts yellow.
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7 Responses to Making dubbing 101: a step-by-step by Doug Korn

  1. Gary McClain

    I have used this process for making dubbing for a long time. When I package my dubbing I include the recipe along with the yarn manufactures info for later reference.

  2. I’ve heard of doing this but never saw the process or had it explained to me. You got some great results.

  3. Steve

    Check garage sales or a local thrift store/Salvation Army for used coffee grinders, they can usually be found for just a couple of bucks, spend your savings on hooks and beer, or at least beer

  4. Ray Kunz

    I was introduced to making dubbing blends many decades ago by Eric Lieser when the vogue was to wet blend in a blender instead of a coffee grinder. It seems to blend very uniformly. I just add water and a drop of liquid soap, blend, drain in a tea strainer, flip the neat little patch onto a paper towel and dry over a light bulb.

  5. Joel C. Brothers

    Neat, but why? Isn’t dubbing just as cheap to buy as the chenille?

    • Paul Beel

      Because sometimes you want a specific color that isn’t available. This allows you to come up with all kinds of color combinations.