Advantages of tube fly patterns for fish and fly fishers

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by Roger Stephens, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. IMHO tube fly patterns are as easy or easier to tie in comparison to a standard hook shank pattern. The most important advantage of tube patterns is that they are so much easier/gentler on fish particularly on the catch and release sea-run cutthroat fisheries or salmon species that are to be released. If you are not already tying tube patterns give them a try. The equipment/materials to do so are pretty inexpensive. Below are my thoughts.


    1. A tube fly pattern can be slide up the leader and a Ketchum Release Tool or similar device can be used to release a fish while in the water without handling it.

    2. Small Gamakutsu SC-15(saltwater series) can be used. I use #4 and #6. They are small diameter nickel plated hooks that are susceptible to corride fairly rapidly. Plus, these hooks will not cause as much harm to fish in comparison to a larger diameter stainless steel hook.

    3. If a fish is hooked deep in it's mouth/gills the tube pattern can be slide up the leader. The leader can be sniped near the hook. The hook should dissolve/corrode rapidly without harming the fish. It is best to leave a small diameter hook in a fish's mouth/gill rather than attempting to remove the hook with a release tool or forceps which will have a high probability of causing excessive bleeding and demise of the fish. This is probably the most important advantage of tube patterns.

    4. If a standard stainless steel hook pattern is left in a fish's mouth/gills, the fish will have to deal with a large fly pattern which may have dumbbell eyes or a cone head. It has to be more invasive in comparison to a small diameter SC-15 hook.


    1. A tube fly pattern will last much longer since after a fish is hooked the pattern will often slide up the leader away from the teeth of a fish.

    2. Short strikes can be mimimized. A length of tube can be used that will place the hook near the rear of a fly pattern.

    3. If a hook is broken, bent, or dull, it is easy to change out the hook and still use the same fly.

    4. It is harder for a fish to "throw" a pattern since short shank Gamakutsu SC-15 or similar hooks can be used. A fish does not have as much leverage to "throw" a tube fly pattern in comparison to long shank hook patterns. Non tube patterns that use cone head or dumbbell eyes particularly clouser minnows are prone to have fish "throw" the fly pattern.

  2. Yes, tube flies are great. Especially when you're first starting out and you do a lot of "backcast rock-slapping" on the beach. Much nicer to change out the hook rather than throw away the pattern.
  3. Well observed Roger. Tube flies are fantastic for a wide variety of applications. I should use them more often. At this time I use them mostly for my offshore fishing, marlin in particular.
  4. Most of you guys are probably better casters than me but I've been able to rescue a few tubes from tree limbs. Comes in handy when it's the only fly in your your box catching fish. Would rather leave some hooks to decorate the trees than that one fly with the mojo.
  5. All great points.

    Counterpoint, though; IMHO, I don't believe tube flies 'swim' as well as standard flies, particularly if a person is using (relatively) heavy and/or stiff tippet. Granted, not all flies need to 'swim' or create that illusion. Just an opinion . . .

    Again, great points, all.
  6. Thanks for this Roger.

    The photo below was taken yesterday. This SRC was a beast- by far the largest I've ever hooked. It was like fighting a silver; it gave my 6 weight a thorough workout. I don't have a photo of the fish because the tippet broke as I was trying to gain control (without a net :beathead:), and it swam away with a Clouser hooked who-knows-where. At the time I felt a little bad. Now I feel really bad.

    I need to re-stock my salt boxes and I'm going to give this a close look. Thanks for caring so deeply for this fishery.

    View attachment 42321

  7. Have you created articulating patterns, Roger? Can't envision why not.

    Can you fish streamers with an assortment of different cones/beads on the head for weight? Seems more efficient to be able to choose the desired head from a box and slide it on at the end of the tube, thus allowing angler to use the same tube for varying depths in the water column, rather than tie the same pattern 3-5 times for all the different weights.
  8. Jason:

    I created an articulated tube pattern two years ago and have had good success with it. I posted a thread about the pattern with a materials lists and photos of it even with it hanging out of a fish's mouth. The post was on 10/18/2009( Hope that the post will help you.

    I now tie all my wooly buggers on tubes and use a cone head for weight. The articulated pile worm should be effective as a freshwater leech pattern. It is a very versatile pattern since the number of segments can very from two segments to many more depending how long you want the pattern. Many times I will angle a 10mm sequin off to one side which gives tube wooly bugger and tube pile worm pattterns 1 to 2 inches of wiggle plus the jigging motion.

    At the saltwater tube pattern demonstration tomorrow afternoon at Puget Sound Fly Co. I am going to bring a green and a black version of the pattern plus tube wooly buggers but I will not be tying them for the event.


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