Trout Fishing and the Color of Wet Dubbing

dc410

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Very interesting article. Thanks for sharing that with us. Sometimes, the devil is absolutely in the details. Good stuff.
 

silver creek

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I discovered this along time ago and would mix my own dubbing, wet it with spit and add dyed rabbit fur or synthetics until I get the wet shade I wanted. Many dry fly dubbing are synthetics but I still think they get darker when wet and they also change a bit with floatants.

I've read that sythetics don't get darker but my personal experience is that some definitely do. I use a nylon yarn for my serendipities and it gets darker when wet. Dazzleaire sparkle yarn gets darket when wet. So don't beleiove that synthetics don't get darker when wet. It is such a simple test so wet the synthetic and let your own eyes judge.
 

ts47

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Thanks for posting this. It was a good read and gave me something to think about with my fly tying.
 

overmywaders

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Of note also is that iridescent materials, such as peacock herl, are not iridescent once thoroughly wet. The iridescence is caused by air gaps between the layers of chitin. Fill those air gaps with water - which has a different refractive index than air - and the iridescence is lost.
 

silver creek

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I've been thinking about the darkening of wet flies and dubbing and it seems to me that lots of things look darker when wet. Wet sand at a beach look darker, wet clothes look darker, wet rocks look darker, wet wood looks darker.

The common denominator is water and the only difference between looking at a wet object and a dry object is that there is a layer of water between our eyes and the surface of the object.

We all know that light reflects off of the surface of water so there is less light getting to the object. That means there is less light available under water to be reflected back to our eyes.

We also know the mirror effect of the under surface of the water, so some of the light that would have been reflected back to our eyes from the object never gets to us since it is reflect back under water by the mirror. This light reflected light is scattered back underwater and may make it out or it could be absorbed by another color in the dubbing if the dubbing is multicolored. If it does get out, our eyes mislocate the origin of the color and it is assigned to another location. So there is brightness lost and mislocation by the back and forth reflection.

What this implies is that it does not matter if the dubbing is natural or synthetic, all will darken because the darkening is not due only to the material but to the fact that there is a water/air interface between our eyes and the material.

If the darkening of the material is dependent ONLY on an air/water interface, what does this imply for the trout who do NOT have an air/water interface between it's eyes and the dubbing on the fly? At this time I think they see a darker dubbing (because it is wet and under water so less light reaches it) but it is slightly BRIGHTER than we see because the reflective mirror effect of the under surface of the water does not interfere with the amount of reflected color that reaches their eyes.

After doing this mind game to try to figure out what was happening, I did a google search and came up with two sources. I think my deductions are similar.

Q: Why do wet stones look darker, more colorful, and polished? | Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist

Cloth's Darker When Wet (Dr Karl Homework: ABC Science)
 
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overmywaders

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Artificial vs natural body materials should also be considered for dry flies. For example, a Pink Lady with a silk floss body will absorb more water, become translucent, and change in body color to a red from pink. Nylon floss will remain the same color and translucency (minimal). Since the design of the Pink Lady predates Nylon floss, the natural silk is probably the way to go.

Oil-based floatants will change the color of silk and natural dubbing bodies. Rodmakers are faced with a similar problem -- the old cane rodmakers used silk thread for windings. However, some of them treated the silk with dilute PVA or shellac in order to prevent the oil in the varnish from turning the winds translucent. Other rodmakers liked the translucence. As we know, oils on many natural materials, e.g., paper, turn them almost transparent. In the US prairie states, the old sod houses used oiled paper as windows, glass being too expensive. [Semi-precious stones, especially emeralds, are often oiled to improve the appearance, as well. Watch for this.]

IME, the posts of parachute flies are best when natural white hair, or Antron white are used. I tied some with yellow polyester posts and could never get a rise. I ascribe this to UV reflectance, the yellow poly is very dark in the UV. I had the same problem when I tied Hairwing Royal Coachmen with yellow kip wings.
 

losthwy

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Many dry fly dubbing are synthetics but I still think they get darker when wet and they also change a bit with float ants...
I've read that synthetics don't get darker but my personal experience is that some definitely do....
I tested some of my synthetics and they did become darker. UV Ice Dubbing was an exception.

The article got me thinking about something I had never given any thought to. Good one.
 

airborne 82nd

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Great read , thank you I know myself I tend to let personal likes of specific colors influence my selection of colors , lol guilty. I do know purple is a lasting color under water at specific depths where other colors tend to kind of all lose their color ( not explains well ). Butgreat read. I seen a video where a guy tied a handful of " killer bugs " with the same tan yarn however changed thread color on hook shank , then placed in glass of water and based on the thread color each fly had a different look ..
Airborne
 
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