R. S. Austin's Tup's Indispensable fly

First I must confess I have no deep knowledge of old fly patterns and their names, and had never heard of this fly pattern before today.

But earlier today I was playing around searching for アヒルの羽毛鉤巻き [ duck feather kebari winding].

Which lead to discovering a post on Fishing Fool [ [釣りばかホイホイ, turibakahoihoiblog] blog.
Exploring the blog content a bit more I found a post from Feb 25, 2020, about the Tups’ Indispensable fly. A fly created about 1890 by UK angler R. S. Austin. It looks a bit like a Takayama kebari.

Reading the google translation of the Fishing Fool blog post - I thought, this can’t be right! It must be another of the odd translations one sometimes gets when perfectly innocent Japanese words that google will translate into one of the forbidden 4 letter English curse words. But searching for online post in English I found that no - the google translation was mostly correct.

It’s a tale about Austin’s double super secret magic dubbing that seems to have relied on the dubbing’s unique color and it’s source. Which odd as it seems - was wool from a ram’s scrotum. :open_mouth: Indeed an “indispensable” part of a ram kept for breeding sheep.

The name Tup’s apparently was a name for breeding rams.

The wool from this part of the anatomy took on a unique color -

From the goldcountryff website -
"What was this mystery ingredient in the dubbing? The hair from a ram’s scrotum! The combination of orange dye used to check for breeding plus the urine, after being thoroughly washed, gave the dubbing that little something special. (color) "

" (RS) Austin insisted on keeping his special dubbing secret. He did swear ( G.E.M.) Skues to silence and requested that the formula not be given out until his death. Skues kept his secret and even kept it longer since Austin’s daughter, Agnes, tied the fly until she retired in 1934 and released Skues from his vow… Upon her retirement in 1934, Miss Austin gave permission to publish the correct dressing of Tup’s Indispensable to G.E.M. Skues."

From the globalflyfisher website:
"This fly had gained a very impressive reputation. You can see this from a letter, which was sent by George Edward MacKenzie Skues to A. Courtney Williams. He writes:
[The fly became so popular that Austin became utterly sick of tying it, and one of his customers said that the “Dorsetshire Frome”(river) stank of Tup’s Indispensables from Maiden Newton(town) to the sea.] "

Anyway, after that back ground

The Fishing Fool Tup’s Indispensable blog post.
<Tup’s Indispensableフライのダビング材のタマげた本質 (fly dubbing essence)>
https://turibakahoihoiblog.seesaa.net/article/ <Tup’s Indispensable fly dubbing essence>

Tup’s Indispensable
Tup’s Indispensable is a fly originated by R.S. Austin in 1890, utilizing a quite exotic material as dubbing.


Materials Used
Hook: Tiemco, 100SP BL {#14}
Thread: Dyneema 55 {Gold}
Tips & Hackle: Rooster{Tan}
Abdomen: Body Thread, Floss {Light Yellow}

1890 R.S. Austin “Magic Dubbing”

  • 1/2 Wool from Ram Indispensable part {testicles}
  • if you’re not afraid to try collecting it
  • for rest of Us - just standard Wool :slight_smile:
  • 1/2 Cream Seal’s Fur {I didnt have, so just add more of wool}
  • Little admixture of lemon yellow spaniel {I just add some Fox Fur}
  • Little bit of the pale pinkish and very filmy fur from an English hare’s poll
  • Little bit of Mohair {Red} or it can be substituted with Seal’s Fur {Red}


There are several flies described on the below linked website, scroll down about 1/3 of the page from the top to find Ralph Wood’s 2019 description of the Tup’s Indispensable


You can find many other websites or youtube videos showing the tying of this fly pattern.


@David, I have also read that they used the urine stained fur from a female fox “vixen”. I have also have read the ram’s scrotum hair is used for the fly. I’m not sure which one is the original formula or if the fox’s fur is an excepted substitute? The fly does work on trout.

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Whilst not specifically tenkara related, he does mention the “Tups” blend on the Small Stream Reflections blog back in a post in February.


A little nicer view of the same blog post in the web version


Lots more interesting stuff in his other blog post, too.

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I like US-style dubbing with a little pink color
・・・The original is amber and even if there is red fiber in it

Which is your favorite?