I tried to find a video that I saw recently where the tyer dropped the next piece of dubbing he was going to put on his thread. If it dropped to his tying bench it was too much. If it floated it was perfect. Couldn't find it. His message was dub light, very light.
If I were starting again I'd only use Hare or Opposum until I got fairly good. Both dub very easily. It's easy to dub light which you need to do to build tapered bodies (any bodies). Here's a good concept. Choose thread the color of the body you want then put on just enough of the same colored dubbing to make it look like hairy thread.
Man, wish I could find that video. It was cool.
There are a couple different ways to dub.
Direct Dubbing -dubbing a single strand of thread.-- (learn this way first)
Easiest is with a single strand of your working thread. The key to this is using waaay less dubbing than you think you'll need--- basically think of it as just "coloring" the thread with dubbing as opposed to creating a big noodle of dubbing. To apply the dubbing twist it onto the thread in one direction only between your thumb and forefinger. You can build a tapered body by applying several passes (layers) of the thread with dubbing as opposed to using heavier amounts of dubbing on the thread and trying to do it in one pass. Use this method with fine dubbings like Super Fine and Fly Rite and for dry flies, short fine natural fibers like mole etc for softhackles. You can also use this method for coarser dubbings like Hare's Mask etc for nymphs, especially as you start out.
Here's a vid:
How to Tie a Dubbing Body to a Dry Fly: Basic Fly Tying Instructions: How to Tie a Fly for Fly Fishing | eHow.com
Another dubbing method is using a "dubbing loop". This is a little trickier, and involves forming a loop with the tying thread (or splitting a single strand of thread in two), applying the dubbing to one strand, and then twisting the loop to lock the dubbing material in. This is good for coarse materials and when you want a thick or shaggy body-- large nymphs would be a good example, or for creating a shaggy thorax:
(see link to the video in Fysh's post).
A lot of threads are prewaxed, and you should be able to apply dubbing to thread without a lot of extra waxing. But if you want to put a little extra wax on, you can buy dubbing waxes at a fly shop--- or just use a candle. Or you can pay a buck or two for a wax ring used to seat/seal toilets, available at plumbing supply stores, Home Depot, Lowes etc-- it will last you 10 lifetimes.
There are a zillion other techniques for dubbing ("touch dubbing", creating a "dubbing brush" etc) but the single strand and dubbing loop are the most common and generally useful methods to learn.
You guys are simply AWESOME !! This is what I have been looking for !
I guess my search engine is running two-stroke .. lotta smoke ....
Gordon in NC