Alternate tube materials

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by DennisE, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. Just went searching for materials today at a local hobby shop. I've been tying using Pro Tube materials and couldn't stomach the prices. This was especially so when I started to consider articulated (multiple tube sections) polychaete worms on a tube.
    The materials I found today, while not ideal, look like they're going to work for many applications. And, they're pretty cheap. They take basic fly structure cost from about $0.60 to about $0.10. That's tube only, not cones, beads or other materials. Still a substantial per fly savings.

    What I found was the following:
    Styrene 3/32" tube. 6 - 14" pieces for $3.35
    Great Planes 5/64" Silicone fuel tubing. 1-24" piece for $1.89
    The sizes I've been tying so far, and are the basis of the cost estimate are a 1 1/4 inch piece of the styrene with a 5/8 inch piece of the fuel tubing.

    The advantages/disadvantages I've found so far are:
    1. (+) When heated the styrene ends flare but don't close the tube end. Don't need to use the mandrel to open it back up.
    2. (-) Easier to catch on fire, but not too bad.
    3. (-) Bent tubing retains the bend easier at room temp. (mixed blessing if you WANT weird action on a bugger)
    4. (+) Flare the end used to to hold the silicone tube piece and you probably don't need to glue.
    5. (-) The inside diameter appears to be a little large to SECURELY hold the hook eye. Tested with a Gamakatsu SS15 #6 and it did grip, but not as tight as I'd like. This would be a disadvantage for a baitfish pattern where the hook orientation may affect the fly orientation. Should work fine on Wooly Buggers and Worms. Further testing and material search in order.
    6. (-) Wall thickness of silicone tube is a little thick. If you tie tail materials too close they may flare too much. On the other hand, that could be helpful to add motion to your tail materials.
    7. (+) I was afraid that the styrene would become brittle when cold. My short (20 minute) test in the freezer with an immediate violent bend didn't break the tube.
    8. (-) Only one color available, but colored Sharpies or mylar wraps should fix that. The styrene surface feels like it will hold the Sharpie ink.
    9. (-) Outside diameter of the styrene is a little large for the standard ProTube cones and disks, BUT a few seconds in a Dremel (small chuck) and a piece of sandpaper and you're in business.

    I'll try to remember to followup on this with anything new I find out.
  2. cheap fred meyer q-tips.
    come in a myriad of flourescent colors, like $4 for 100s of tubes approx 40mm
  3. +1 on the Q-tips. They even wrap back slightly against the head when held to a lighter. I just but a little bend in an extra bodkin I had lying around and use that as a mandrel so the Q-tip doesn't spin.
  4. The Jerry Meister supplied everyone last year with a lifetime supply:)
  5. Ink pen carthrige
  6. !!Snelled hook flies......
    The cheapest tube is no tube at all. They're not really needed.
    I'm not sure what the tube accomplishes anyway. I've never made a tube fly. So in that sense I don't really know. I'm willing to be corrected and/or enlightened. But right now I'm thinking the tube is just tits on a bull. I make snelled hook flies on a horizontal #10 beading needle. Add a bit of spawn sack (as a foundation) surrounding the snell knot or the rear end of a swivel. Soak that in a bit of water based fabric cement and then tie a fly on top of the wet spawn sack. And then slide it off the needle. Sinks like a stone (the weighted ones anyway). Catches fish. Good durable all day fly.
  7. I tie mostly for the salt. Sometimes you want to use a different hook size with the same size fly for different species. With tubes you don't have to tie for each hook, just tie on a different hook. Also applies if you ding a hook badly on a backcast. The tube fly will often slide up the tippet and away from the fishes mouth resulting in longer lasting flies.

    Regarding using Q-tip straws, I went and picked some up to try and I can see utilizing them for some applications. I started tying tubes using ProTube parts and tubes, so with that in mind this is what I found:

    1. (+) The tubes fit the ProTube mandrel nicely and shouldn't spin.
    2. (+) The tubes do melt and expand nicely.
    3. (-) The tube walls are thinner than the styrene tubes and the tube material doesn't sand as well. Results in more work to get cones, disks and beads to fit and more chance of messing up the tube in the process. Only weighted head materials I've tried are from ProTube, so if someone has a suggestion for a source with a slightly larger inside diameter, I'm up for it. I'm thinking I need to check on the HMH materials.
    4. (-/+) The inside tube diameter results in an awfully tight hook eye fit. The upside is that the Silicone tubing fits nicely on the outside to act as a hook holder.
    5. (-) The outer surface of the Q-tip is slicker. I wouldn't be surprised to find that materials might slide on it. I checked the Sharpie ink and that didn't stick at all!
    6. (-) Did the same freezer test and while the Qtip didn't break, it did get a kink in it that was hard to get out.

    All in all I'd say I could use either tube if I can find heads that fit better but I still lean toward the styrene.
  8. OK. That makes sense to me. Something I hadn't thought of. Something I don't need for trout fishing in the mountains. But it makes perfect sense for Salt Water.

    You could make a snelled hook fly that ends with a snap clasp at the end of the snell, rather than a hook. Then you could still eliminate the tube. And still use any hook you might want. But tubes are probably easier for salt water flies. I get it now.

  9. After all, this entire excercise had a purpose. I didn't want to cut up expensive preformed tubes to tie articulated flies. I was shooting for a more "live" polycaete worm and this is the result. Tied with 2 sections of tube and once on the leader I used a small piece of surplus quill (like using a toothpick in an indicator) to keep the cone portion from sliding too far up. By the way, the rear portion is also lightly weighted at the front so it can be used independantly.

  10. Sorry. I missed your original theme somehow. Lazy reading on my part. Yours is a good looking fly.

    It's still possible to tie a worm like thing on a snell too. Your fly probably has MORE action. I'm not knocking it. But a snelled hook worm has sex appeal too. It might not flex as much. But it does flex (some) from end to end.

  11. Anyone have any alternate, poor mans methods of tube attachments for a vise?
  12. When I was using Q-tip plastic tubes, I would cut to a length just longer than the tie, I would just clamp an end in the vise, tie on at the other end, and cut away the smashed end when done.
    stilly stalker likes this.
  13. I buy bulk PTFE (Teflon) tubing for making custom super glue dispensers. PTFE is expensive. But the same places that sell PTFE also sell bulk rolls of Polyethelene tubing. And that stuff is cheap. Any diameter you want, down to 30 guage, which is a pinpoint pin hole, up to an inch or more in diameter. With any "tube cell wall thickness" you want too. That might be worth looking into. Earlier in this thread I said I'd never made a tube fly. But that's not entirely true. I've made several with Teflon tubing. It works just fine. The only problem is that it's too expensive. But like I said, Polyethylene tubing is cheap. Polyethylene and PTFE are transparent too. I'm not a big tube fly guy. But just looking at them I've never been a big fan of opaquely-colored tubes. Transparent is (intuitively anyway) more better.
  14. The main issue with alternative tube materials is to also find a matching flexible tube to slip over it securely to hold the hook.

    Frustration with this issue lead me to just get HMH tubing with the included flexible tube holder tubing.

    DennisE was on point when he reported finding the silicone fuel tubing to go with his polystyrene tubes.

  15. You can get the tube material as brake lines at a truck shop. As far as poor mans attachments for your vise, before they offered vises to tie tube flies, I took a short section of coat hanger and flattened one end with a hammer, then inserted it into the jaws of the vice. A little curve in the coat hanger keeps it from rotating. I have all the new stuff now but it isn't much of an improvement from the old days.
  16. A large safety pin makes a great tube adapter.....just bend it to 90 degrees open, put it in the jaws of your vice just below the bend....then slip on your tube, jamming it into the bend of the safety pin. The tube will not great!!

  17. Yep. Old blind eye spey hook. Bijorn has them for a buck or 2, methinks.

    (-)limited to one size tube
    (+)a buck or 2
    Derek Day likes this.
  18. Take a couple sewing needles and using the pointed end, jam as many as it takes to get a nice snug fit into one end of the tube. However, make sure to leave at least an inch or so of the eye end of the needles exposed. At this point, you will need to secure the exposed section of the needles in your vise. If the tube feels a little bit loose, or if spins when you start tying, you can jam an additional needle in the other end to better secure it. Sometimes a tool such as a small hammer is needed in order to force the additional needle into the tube. I understand that this is not for everyone. However, I have been using this method for a couple of years and it has worked well for me.
    Evan Burck likes this.
  19. I hate junction tubing with a passion. theres no trailer hook effect. In stead, use a perfection loop in the end of tippet, large enough to attach a stinger hook to so it will ride past the end of your fly. THEN slide a small bead on the leader so the knot of the loop wont slide up through the tube. Thread tippet through tube, tie to leader. Some people may not like this method, but I like it WAY MORE than junction tubing and you can have tubes with a stinger hook this way.
    jwg likes this.
  20. I like this stinger hook option

    Tube holder vs stinger will depend on the fly


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