Originally Posted by itchmesir
Dry dubbing is often very fine which helps it hold less water and keeps it floating high
Nymph dubbing is usually buggier.. meaning it'll include guard hairs and such to give it a more dynamic and buggier profile
+1 to the above. For those of you who want more detail:
Before synthetics, we had only natural furs.
Some furs like sheep had only a single type of "hair" or fiber. And depending on source, again like sheep, some animals have natural oils that are good for dry fly dubbing because it came with a natural floatant. Fur from animals that lived in water such as beaver and muskrat also were thought to be good for dry flies. Tanning and processing removed the natural oils but the belief persists.
Other animals like muskrat, beaver, rabbit, etc have both underfur and guard hairs. Underfur is the fur closest to the skin and is soft and fine making ti great for dry flies that need fine and long fibers to make a smooth tapered body. Under fur is usually of a flat color.
Guard hairs are the longer, stiffer, and shinier so a dubbing mixture that had both the underfur and guard hair would be used for nymphs to give a rougher and spikier body.
There were other special furs taken from specific parts of animals such as hare's ear, which was take from the "mask" of an English hare. The mask is the face. This is the origin of the original "hare's ear" fly.
A hare's mask has spiky mottled colors, and makes for a great fly for those of you that wand to try the real thing. Hare's mask dubbing could be mixed with other furs to make nymph dubbing. I presume this is also the source for the name for the Hareline Dubbing .
Another spiky natural fur is squirrel and it is used for many nymphs such as Dave Whitlock's red fox squirrel nymph.
These two furs, hare and squirrel were common sources of nymph dubbing.
For the adams dry fly dubbing I still use muskrat underfur which is a perfect adams grey. I pull off the guard hair before trimming the fur from the hide. There is a special tool called a dubbing rake that can be use to rake and mix the fur right off of the the tanned hide.
Of the natural furs, white rabbit was the most common source of dry fly dubbing because it could be dyed and tanned. White rabbit fur was available from commercial rabbits raised for food. Gary Borger's book Naturals
has specific formulas using Rit to dye white rabbit fur the colors to match insects.
Other furs such as mink, otter, red fox, etc can be used and were sometimes specified for famous patterns such as the Art Flicks's Hendrickson pattern
using the pink urine stained underbelly fur from a female (vixen) red fox. In the days when I started fly tying, I followed patterns to the "T" and bought a female red fox pelt for the pale pink urine stained underbelly fur.