Tube flies?

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Willie Bodger, May 26, 2005.

  1. I must say, I'm a little stumped by these. Perhaps I'm just a little out there, butbhow do you tie them and how do you attach the hook? do you tie it on a tube and then slide onto your leader and then tie a hook on? How do you hold the tube while you are tying it, just in your vise? Still stymied. Oh well, what's new...

  2. Tube Flies: A Tying, Fishing & Historical Guide
    by Mark Mandell, Les Johnson, Jim Schollmeyer

    The referenced book was written by frequent contributor Les Johnson. It holds a wealth of information on the history, how to tie tube flies, and patterns for almost every type of fly fishing you can imagine. The tubes are tied using an attachment that clamps into your vise. It has a mandrel that holds the tube. You slide a short piece of junction tubing over the rear of the tube, slide your leader through, tie on the hook and pull the eye into the junction tubing. You are ready to fish. If you break the hook point casting on the beach, replace the hook and save the fly.

    Les Johnson has taught a course on tying tube flies that I took last year. I would imagine that if there is enough interest he would be willing to teach the course again.

    Tubes will offer you a lot of variety. They are great for placing the hook in the back of the fly. I can't recommend the book highly enough.

    Good Tying, Steve
  3. You tie them on be threading the line through the tube and then tying it onto the hook like so:

    <img src="">

    Some people like to use a piece of tygon to hold the hook in place like:

    <img src="">

    To hold the tube while tying you can use an assortment of different vices made for tying tube flies (try typing in "tube fly vice" in a google search) and there are the cheaper attatchments for your own vice. For instance you can use a tool that comes w/ different size mandrels that are held in place by a set screw and the whole assembly is mounted in your vice jaw. They cost around $15, worth it if you are a first time tube fly tyer and not sure if you want to continue.

    My reasons for using tube flies:

    • They allow one to use a small (#1,2 or 4) hook with a large fly, hence limiting injury to the fish.
    • They allows the hook to come free from the fly when a fish in hooked.
    • A short shank hook has a better chance of the fish being banked.
    • Tube flies can be stored without hooks, preventing injury.
    • They allows combinations of different bodies to be put together.
    • They allows the FF to choose the hook to the envioment.
    • If a hook breaks or bends allows to change the hook without changing the fly.
    • A tube can be cut in different lengths for a multitude of patterns.
    • A tube puts the hook where the fish strike, and keeps the hook from fouling.

    Hope this helped, TL and dry feet
  4. Jeremy pretty much summed it all up. I love using them. Plus, they are a great "crossover" fly between flyfishing and gear fishing. Have a few flies that have been hot fish catchers on both sides of the coin. Only difference is what rod casts it out. Plus, like mentioned, you can have a big profiled fly without having to use such a large hook.
  5. Thank you, gentlemen for the insight. I stopped by Pacific Fly Fishers today and watched Scott Howell (hywel) do a demonstration. I may have to give those a shot, but first I need to finish up my sculpins for the swap and then tie up some BIG flies to chase Tiger Muskies in Greenlake, wish me luck!!

  6. Tube flies are great in many of the ways noted.

    HOWEVER, they don't swim as well as non-tube flies. One of the advantages of the clouser, for example, is that weighted at the head the fly can move up and down like a jig. And, tied with a loop knot on the hook eye, most flies will swim well.

    With the tube fly, the leader/tippet is tied through the tube, not allowing the fly to swim. The swimming appearance with the tube fly is primarily due to the materials. Sure, you can add weight to the tube to make it 'jig' up and down, but it still won't move like non-tube flies.

    Each style has it's advantages and disadvantages.

    Another style of tie to consider that includes many of the positives of the two different styles is to tie a trailer hook on to a standard hook and clip the front fly at the bend so it is only a shank. The materials are tied to the shank (like the tube fly), attach the back hook with a loop so it can be changed easily if damaged or if a different hook is desired (like a tube fly), the flies can be stored without hooks and added later when the fly is used, and the knot can be tied to the hook eye at the front, with a loop knot, that allows the fly to swim freely (like a non-tube fly).

  7. "HOWEVER, they don't swim as well as non-tube flies."

    I beg to differ - and offer the following personal challenge.

    Tie any reasonable Steelhead or Salmonfly you wish on iron, (size #5 or larger), and I'll dress the very same fly on a tube.

    I'll wager that the tube fly swims and moves as well, if not better, than its iron counterpart.


    Infidel Boy
  8. Tubes rule, come to the dark side, tubes rullllllllleeeee!@!!!
  9. "HOWEVER, they don't swim as well as non-tube flies. One of the advantages of the clouser, for example, is that weighted at the head the fly can move up and down like a jig. And, tied with a loop knot on the hook eye, most flies will swim well."
    I disagree. By “swim” I assume that you mean jig. While an un-weighted tube does not jig, a weighted tube will jig very well. However, two factors may reduce your tube flies’ ability to jig effectively: Tying the fly on a longer tube and using a heavy wire hook. Both essentially counteract any weight that you may tie into the front of the tube. By using a long tube your hook (and its weight) are further back and act to balance the weight on the front of the tube. The same ‘counterweight’ effect can occur if you use a heavy wire hook.
    If you tie your flies on either copper tubes or plastic tubes with weight, keep your tubes short and the required jigging effect can easily be achieved. Before you complain about needing stout hooks to land big fish, I fish tubes that have a nice jigging action in the water and still sport hooks stout enough to land tuna and Dorado.
  10. :)

    Attached Files:

  11. I think both of you have misunderstood what Richard was getting at (or maybe I'm on his wavelength of effect he wants). May be that you've never used shad darts and the likes while fishing for bottomfish (or bass fishing, jigging salmon, etc). The effect in question isn't something that could be done effectively by a tube (if I'm understanding what he wants). Just won't happen. The size of hook has no bearing behind it at all in fact, in fact a heavier hook would deter the "jigging" even more. When we'd jig bottom fish and salmon, you want something that dives fast and head first. The rotates on it's axis and pull up (like salmon mooching). The severely heavy head vs. the super light rear end gives the desired effect. And yes, I've tried tying on tubes because I couldn't get the desired hook into the jig molds I had (wanted much bigger hooks). So tried tubes. Even a weighted tube with added weight towards the head of the hook didn't have the sinking ability I wanted out of it. This was on a gear rod mind you were the tube was doing the work a jighead was supposed to be doing. I even tried using monster sized dumbell eyes and still didn't seem to work as well. With the plastic tubing, to much bouyancy and too thick of drag to sink as I did with similar sized jig heads with hooks. On the heavier copper tubes, seemed to more go down at an angle then drop straight like a rock. Slowly the decent (thanks to drag of the longer profile). BUT, tied the dumbbell eyes onto the oversized jig hooks and had the better "drop" that I wanted. The jig effect is mostly seen on the downfall of the lure, not the uptake (since anything being pulled up will usually come upwards from the point you tie the tippet on). But this is an effect much different then the "swimming" effect though most are thinking of a fly going through the water column in a wetfly swing. I have had great success (but not more) with a small diameter tube tied similar to the "full iron" version. Leeches come to mind. Only problem I have to say of tubes vs. irons though is the weighting issue. I hate adding weight to flies. Usually with my leeches, I'll have to add either lead eyes to plastic tubing or tie on copper/brass/aluminum tubes to get the effect of a same fly on a standard flyhook. Just too much bouyancy making the fly hard to sink on standard tubing material. Which isn't good when you're trying to work a deep slot. So now I have a mixture of tubes depending on the sinkrate I need coupled with sinktip I'm using.

    Just get some materials, whatever vise/adapter you have, and start experimenting. Fun to try new things on them. Will say, I have MUCH better luck (and action) with a muddler tied on an iron then tubes though. Tied up some of my Coho Muddlers on tubes (vs Salmon hooks) and the hooks outfished the tubes hands down.
  12. "The size of hook has no bearing behind it at all in fact, in fact a heavier hook would deter the "jigging" even more. When we'd jig bottom fish and salmon, you want something that dives fast and head first."
    I still have to completely disagree with what you are saying about jigging and tubes. Heavy hooks do have a bearing on a tube flies’ desired action. If you re-read what I posted, you will see that I stated that a heavy hook or a hook that is placed far back on a long tube (or both) would have a detrimental effect on a tube that you are looking to Jig. By placing weight at the front of any fly, you will create a fly that will want to sink head first. You counteract this effect by placing any weight (in this case a hook) farther back on a long tube.
    I have found that short plastic tubes with coneheads and lighter hooks do jig (head first) very effectively. If you still don’t believe me, I can send you a recipe or a sample?
  13. Anil's Shock and Awe Tube with the cross-eyed cones dive like a rock. You can add additional weight in the head but I have not found that necessary. Anil shared his pattern last summer and it has caught lots of fish since then. Take him up on his offer.
  14. Jerry,

    With all due respect, here's where I completely lost the plot in your reply;

    "This was on a gear rod mind you were the tube was doing the work a jighead was supposed to be doing."


    Ditto, and ditto.

  15. Y'all just ain't gettin' it.

    The fly will try to rotate around that point where it affixes to the leader. To allow the most freedom in an up and down movement requires a loop knot. A standard weighted fly will more freely move up and down better than a tube fly. It's just engineering.

    Here's a test for you. Tie a loop knot on to a standard #2 clouser, hold the tippet in one hand, the fly in the other, and let go of the fly. The fly will IMMEDIATELY dip to vertical because of gravity and the loop knot that lets it swing freely.

    Tie a loop knot on to whatever hook you want to use - thick wire, slender wire, long shank, short shank, it doesn't matter - and place it in your tube fly, run your tippet through the tube, and conduct the same test. Very different results. Depending on the stiffness and the weight of your tippet, the tube fly will hang down like a limp d_ck, but it can't hang perpendicularly like the clouser because the tippet through the tube adds rigidity. The tube fly can't hinge around the hook eye, because of the tube and the tippet, like the clouser can.

    I love tube flies, and I love clousers, and I love unweighted flies. Each has its advantages AND disadvantages.

  16. What I don’t get is how you can be sure how patterns you’ve never seen swim? There are flies that jig, that are not Clouser minnows.
    Yes, a fly tied on a hook (particularly a heavy wire hook, or one with weighted eyes) will jig. It will even jig more effectively with a loop knot. My question is; what gauge of cable are you using for tippet? Does a fly have to hang perpendicular in order to jig? Does a Clouser not jig, when tied with a clinch knot? With reasonable tippet diameter and stiffness, I find that flies tied on hooks, jig very effectively even when tied with a standard (non looped) knot.
    Perhaps the tube flies that we tie don’t jig very well in your mind, but they dive headfirst in the water while I’m fishing. I don’t really see what loop knots have to do with this anyway? I thought the argument was about jigging? I don’t think anyone ever claimed that using a loop knot would help a tube fly to jig???
    Maybe we aren’t talking about the same thing? A properly designed tube fly will dive headfirst. This is what I call ‘jigging.’ The patterns that I tie for this purpose are fairly quick and easy. Maybe you prefer to tie your patterns (like Clousers) on hooks, great. The patterns that I tie are not Clousers, or variations of that pattern. They require no exceptional effort, are durable and jig very well. Their design actually demands a tube rather than a hook.
  17. Anil, it's physics.

    A clouser will jig, somewlhat, when tied with tight clinch knot. The weight of the fly and gravity, which obviously cause the jigging motion, are fighting the stiffness of the tippet. As you well know, it won't jig or swim nearly as effectively with a clinch knot as it will with a loop knot.

    The tube fly has a double whammy that hinders its ability to jig and swim. One, it can't jig because, if the hook is seated in soft tubing, the tippet wants to keep the fly horizontal while the fly wants to jig. No matter what knot is used. And, any lenghth of tube adds stiffness to the tippet. ANY length; and, the longer the tube, the stiffer that connection. The stiffer that connection, the more it hinders the jigging ability of the fly.

    I'll have to stop by your shop and show you. You seem to have 'tube fly myopia', but that's all good! Tube flies are great and have advantages over other flies, but those parts of their design that provide them those advantages in turn don't lend them to fishing as well as other flies.
  18. Richard,
    Fair enough. I haven’t seen you in a while anyway. Maybe we can reach some sort of agreement (or maybe not) and post afterwards.
  19. I smell a troll. :thumb:
  20. i understand completely what richard is saying.... the loop knot will only work well with non tube flys... he is correct in saying its basic physics.. cuz it totally is... if you tried to use heavy leader with a tube fly you would not get nearly the action as if you had the loop knot and a non-tube fly... the loop knot allows for a "joint" in the system which allows the fly to pivot up and down much easier than would a tube fly! end of story no more arguing! go out and catch some damn fish with which ever fly floats your boat!

Share This Page