DIY Dubbing Dispenser – Darren MacEachern

Dubbing assortments are an easy and convenient way to store your collection of dubbing materials. Store bought assortments are great, but why not take it a step further, and create your own. You get to choose the colours, and the types of dubbing to store in your dispenser.

I have been a big fan of using dubbing blocks or dubbing dispensers for quite a while now. Almost from the start of my tying obsession, I had been fascinated with the variety of dubbing available on the market. When I first started tying, the off the shelf assortments were perfect for me, but I soon grew out of them, and found myself knee deep in dubbing. I went down to a local hardware shop, and bought a box to store my dubbing in, and soon the box was a mish-mash of dubbing. I now prefer to keep the types of dubbing I use separate from one another. I have a dispenser for rabbit dubbing, another for diamond dubbing, and so on.
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I like to use the plastic containers with 18 compartments in them to create my dispensers. They come with all the necessary separators, and travel easily. I have used a 48 compartment box in the past, but quickly found it to be quite unmanageable. It didn’t come with all the separators either, so I had to steal some extras from other boxes I had. For this project, I bought 3 – 18 compartment boxes, and the entire range of diamond dubbing available from Great Canadian Dubbing (45 colours including several holographic dubbings). The final project would give me 3 boxes, 2 full, and one half full.

Start out by getting all of your materials in order. Remove the tabs from the separators, and trim off any excess plastic with a pen knife. It will make the insertion of the separators easier.


Next, I use a marker to plot out the points on the box where I would like to place the holes. It’s not necessary, but I have found it to give me a better finished product. I have done it with out marking prior to drilling, but my lines were all over the place. With the marking of the box, my lines are straight(er).

Once you have all of the holes plotted out, you can drill your holes. I used a 3/16″ bit for drilling the holes. Use what you feel works for you. When you drill through the plastic, be careful not to push too hard. You can easily create cracks around the hole your drilling if you use too much force. Let the drill do most of the work. You should also take care to keep the drill at a 90 degree angle to the box in order to keep the holes clean. Once all of the holes are drilled, take a minute to remove any of the shavings from the inside and outside of the box.

I like to use colour to inspire my tying, so before I start placing my dubbing into the box, I lay it out and arrange it how I want it to sit. Use your instincts to place colours together. You may want a trout coloured box, or a steelhead / salmon box.

I then take a strip of tape, or labels, and as I add the dubbing, I write down what goes into each block. It takes quite a while to go through a gram of dubbing, so when I run out, I want to know what it was so I can get a new one.

Dealers usually reorder by using product codes, so I choose to use the product codes(found on the packages) rather than the name of the colour. It will make it easy to reorder when the time comes.

With the small holes, comes the challenge of removing the dubbing from it’s new home. To overcome this, I simply took an old dubbing needle, and bent the tip with a pair of pliers. I can now use this tool to easily coax the dubbing out with very little effort.

The finished product. 3 boxes of dubbing, 45 colours, and one happy fly tyer. The expense is a bit steep to go all the way, and create a set for the full colour range ($2-3 per colour and $4 for each box). You can start out with just the colours you use most.

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