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Kapok
Post 26 Jan 2022, 10:58 • #1 
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Joined: 10/18/12
Posts: 1619
Location: Bozeman, MT
"OK" Always open minded for the next best thing in fly tying. ( People who know me would laugh at that statment. :) ) Anyway, I was introduced to a material the other day by the folks at my favorite fly shop. I was looking for a superfine dubbing in a particular color. The folks there offered to have me try this "Kapok" material. Much to my surprise it worked well. Almost too well. The thing that was interesting is that I was told that this material is plant based. Not so much to "Save the Planet" kind of thing just as a matter of fact. The fibers are shorter that say the ones from Superfine but pack just as tight or perhaps more so. The only aspect that I didn't like was that the dubbed body doesn't offer the "Halo" impression when back lit from above as most other dubbing material does. Again, it packs very tightly. Interesting stuff, Anyway, try it for yourselves and let us know your thoughts.
Mark


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Re: Kapok
Post 26 Jan 2022, 12:49 • #2 
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Joined: 12/05/06
Posts: 1820
Location: US-PA
They used to use kapok in life preservers so I would hope it floats... :rolleyes

I don't know what color of "superfine" dubbing you were after, but I have always use the stuff called "Super Fine" peddled these days by Wapsi. If that's what you were after but couldn't find the color, take a look at Kreinik Silk Dubbing.

I use it and like it a lot. It might come in the color you want, have the features you are after and is equally as bad for the planet as kapok. ;)


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Re: Kapok
Post 26 Jan 2022, 15:11 • #3 
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Joined: 08/19/16
Posts: 256
Location: Brazil
Mark, it seems that Bamboozle hit the nail right on the head, and your post is very useful to me.

Upon reading it, I immediately said to myself, “Self, isn’t kapok the stuff they used to make life preservers out of?” Then a quick search on that Googly thing of the computer showed a picture of a “kapok tree” (Ceiba pentandra) complete with its seed pods. It is native to Africa and Central and northern South America. That in turn reminded me of a tree which is common around here (southern Brazil and Northern Argentina) called the Paineira (pronounced “pine-air-uh”), which also goes by the latin name “Ceiba speciosa”. Come to find out the fibers in the seed pods of the paineira were also used the same ways as those of the Ceiba pentandra. So what all of that means to me is that in the autumn of the Southern hemisphere I can just pick seed pods up off of the ground and have some dubbing material for dry flies.


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Re: Kapok
Post 26 Jan 2022, 16:41 • #4 
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Joined: 04/20/07
Posts: 8456
Location: US-ME
Gosh, folks used life preserver fill, and even called it kapok, ever since a life jacket tore open. I remember tying flies with it in the 1970s. Didn't fuss with it much as I found wool, and various furs preferable in the patterns I tried it in.

Neat that it is having a marketing renaissance and will be fun to see how it works in the patterns you tie with it.

As I remember, the difficulty is that is so fine that it collapses if spun tightly, but if dubbed loosely, the fibers are too weak to provide a high float. It is buoyant in and of itself but seemed ineffective in that way once tied onto a fly. In a life jacket, it stays puffy and traps air until it gets wet. Again, best I recall from the last wet, torn kapok life jacket I had. Once water gets in it, the fibers collapse and hold the water almost like cotton would. Best I recall.


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Re: Kapok
Post 26 Jan 2022, 17:54 • #5 
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Joined: 11/06/17
Posts: 2119
Location: South of Joplin
Like Whrlpool, I used kapok in the '70s and preferred other materials. Too long ago for me to remember details. Without doing a web search, I think there may have been a magazine write up on it that got me to try it, or a library book. I soon went back to my muskrat and mole or simple crochet yarn. I tried every new thing that came out or was written about back then and sometime around the millennium burned about a bushel and a half of that "one use" collection. Wish I knew then that online auctions were in the future, I'd have saved it all for the bargain hunters.
It is interesting that it's finding a new audience. Should have saved all those '70s & '80s magazines too.


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Re: Kapok
Post 27 Jan 2022, 04:57 • #6 
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Joined: 06/10/09
Posts: 1577
Location: US-OH
The kapok or ceiba tree has great spiritual significance to some indigenous people in the region it grows. It is a huge, tall tree and signifies a connection between heaven and earth. So maybe the flies tied with it would have special mojo. :)


Last edited by tiptop on 27 Jan 2022, 10:19, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Kapok
Post 27 Jan 2022, 10:12 • #7 
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Joined: 12/31/15
Posts: 1059
Location: The Rockies
Makes sense to me. I often ceremonially hang my best flies in a tree, as an offering to the river gods.


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Re: Kapok
Post 27 Jan 2022, 10:25 • #8 
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Joined: 12/05/06
Posts: 1820
Location: US-PA
I had close to 100% of the NYC fur district as my customers back in the 1980's and more fur scraps than sense (AND cents in those days). The irony for me is other than the Kreinik silk I still use on occasion, as soon as I bought my first pack of synthetic dubbing, I never looked back on anything natural.

Dying & bleaching was fun at times, but just opening a Ziploc bag of the perfect color dubbing is fun-ner.

I don't miss raffia grass or sheet latex either... ;)


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Re: Kapok
Post 27 Jan 2022, 10:43 • #9 
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Joined: 04/20/07
Posts: 8456
Location: US-ME
You mean you never had to scarf up road kill or pick up life jackets mangled on the Thruway after flying out of a boat somebody was trailering up to the Catskills? At least pull over and grab a pinch of puff out of the life jacket before it got soaking wet and useless. Put it in the Edgeworth tin. It was the natural thing to do. And you didn't even have to head down the Pennsylvania turnpike to get some good deer tail.


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Re: Kapok
Post 27 Jan 2022, 10:46 • #10 
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Joined: 10/18/12
Posts: 1619
Location: Bozeman, MT
Awesome! Thanx folks!


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Re: Kapok
Post 27 Jan 2022, 11:23 • #11 
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Joined: 12/05/06
Posts: 1820
Location: US-PA
whrlpool wrote:
You mean you never had to scarf up road kill or pick up life jackets mangled on the Thruway after flying out of a boat somebody was trailering up to the Catskills? At least pull over and grab a pinch of puff out of the life jacket before it got soaking wet and useless. Put it in the Edgeworth tin. It was the natural thing to do. And you didn't even have to head down the Pennsylvania turnpike to get some good deer tail.

Nope... no road kill for me.

I'm Greek and so were most of the manufacturers in the fur district when I lived in the city and at least half of them had the same first name as me. If I wanted anything, all I had to do was ask. ;)


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Re: Kapok
Post 28 Jan 2022, 03:29 • #12 
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Joined: 05/03/14
Posts: 14
Location: Alsen - Jämtland - Sweden
A fly shop gave me some kapok dubbing a couple of years ago to try out. I think he was still experimenting with dyes. My only issue with the stuff is that fibers are too short which makes it hard to form a neat dubbing noodle. However, there might be better kapok out there. I do appreciate being able to use a non-synthetic material which is also plant based.


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