Why tube flies?

Discussion in 'Fly Tying' started by Dipnet, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. Dipnet aka Tim Hartman

    Posts: 915
    Silverdale, WA
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    I've been getting more comfortable with tying over the last year or so and have been filling up boxes with standard-tied flies.

    Being retired and always looking for more challenges I'm considering tying some tube flies but my biggest question is "Why???"

    My history: I've been mostly wading Puget Sound beaches for SRC and salmon. I sometimes take a frameless 'toon out on local lakes. I'd like to expand to more western Washington rivers and streams. Also, I'm seriously thinking of buying a good powered fishing boat for all types of water but mostly the salt.

    I've been doing a lot of web research, both here and other places, and have learned that with a tube-fly, one can easily change a boinked hook and still keep the fly or vice versa, replace a chewed-up fly body without changing the hook.

    So what other advantages do tube flies have? Why do you tie and fish them?

    Any input/opinions are appreciated!
  2. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,159
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,682 / 0
    I tied a number of tube flies and gave it up. The one and only advantage, if you want to call it that, is the ability to use different gap hooks. As I couldn't see any real significant advantage over tying a fly on a hook shank, I put away my tube fly tying tools and went back to tying flies on hooks.

    If there is a significant advantage that I've missed, I'd really like to know what it is. As it is now, I have a lot of tubes and the tools required for tying tube flies and never use them.
  3. Dipnet aka Tim Hartman

    Posts: 915
    Silverdale, WA
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    That's what I'm trying to figure out! ;)

    Even though I'm not sure I want to start tying tubes, you can send your stuff to me!! :p
  4. Dave Evans Active Member

    Posts: 550
    E. WA / N ID
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    I've read it is supposed to decrease hinging of the fly cutting down on lost fish. Have no idea if that is true.
    Irafly likes this.
  5. Dipnet aka Tim Hartman

    Posts: 915
    Silverdale, WA
    Ratings: +375 / 0
    Sorry, double post
  6. Dipnet aka Tim Hartman

    Posts: 915
    Silverdale, WA
    Ratings: +375 / 0
    Yeah, I too have read that tube flies allow easier hook-sets.

    Is that true or do I have to visit http://www.snopes.com/ to see if that's an urban legend? ;)

    And if the hooking capability is true, how does that differ from tying a standard pattern with a stinger?
  7. Roger Stephens Active Member

    Posts: 1,205
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    Over the past 25 years I have fished mostly for sea-run cutthroat and salmon on Puget Sound. About 10 years ago I started tying almost all saltwater flies as tube patterns. An exception is the Ferguson Green and Silver pattern which is tied on a long shank hook. Over the last 8 years I have done numerous tube fly tying demonstrations. The advantages of tube fly patterns listed below is from a handout which I used.


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

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

    3. This is the MOST IMPORTANT ADVANTAGE! 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. It is better 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 have a high probability of causing excessive bleeding and demise of the fish.

    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 dumbell eyes or a cone head. It has to be more invasive in comparison to a small diameter SC-15 hook.


    1. A 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 minimized. 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 or becomes dull, it is easy to change out the hook.

    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 fly pattern in comparison to long shank hooks. Non-tube fly patterns that use cone heads or dumbell eyes particularly clouser minnow are prone to have fish "throw" the fly pattern.

  8. David Dalan 69°19'15.35" N 18°44'22.74" E

    Posts: 1,976
    Walla Walla, WA
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    Yeah, what he said.
  9. Irafly Active Member

    Posts: 3,672
    Everett, Washington, USA.
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    Crap, that was just flat out awesome Roger, flat out awesome.
  10. Dave Evans Active Member

    Posts: 550
    E. WA / N ID
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    Thanks Roger! I've tied a few of them but now I am going to be tying more.
  11. Dipnet aka Tim Hartman

    Posts: 915
    Silverdale, WA
    Ratings: +375 / 0
    Yeah, I expected that Roger would chime in and I very much respect and appreciate his comments.

    He seems to be a guru of PS saltwater tube flies and I thank him for his reply. :)

    So to reiterate what you posted Roger, tube flies allow easier fish release, allow anglers to hook more fish and at the same time make fly-fishing a bit simpler due to the reduced instances of replacing either hooks or fly bodies.

    Did I get that right?

    So what about fishability? Do our local fish like 'em better than standard flies? I know you've fished them a lot! (You don't need to give out any secrets!)

    Regardless, I'm probably gonna start tying 'em 'cuz I like doing something new! ;)
  12. kelvin Active Member

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    what Roger said...and the are f-ing cool to tie
  13. Tacoma Red Active Member

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    Roger I still have your printout from the last Cutts and Chum...Thanks!
  14. Eyejuggler Beech Nut

    Posts: 634
    Ratings: +350 / 0

    I have started to convert all my standard SRC patterns to tubes. Easy to tie, tweakable and I see no difference in the catch rate other than better hookups.
    Also, you can store a bunch of flies in your pocket, rolled into your hat or jammed in a small box. No hooks to foul since you keep the hooks in a small box or in some foam to grab when needed.
    Check out Les Johnsons book for tons of history and patterns. They go back a few years.

    Tube Flies: A Tying, Fishing & Historical Guide
    c1eddy likes this.
  15. golfman44 Coho Queen

    Posts: 1,749
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    Much less likely for you hook to get wrapped on your leader/fly with tube flies. You can just leave it on your line and never have to waste time stripping in to check your fly
  16. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,159
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,682 / 0
    Considering there is such a following for the critters... perhaps I should sell all my tube stuff. Chances are, I'll stay with tying patterns on hooks instead of tubes. Some tricks this old dog refuses to learn.

    (plus, I primarily fish stillwaters for planted trout these days so the advantages of using a tube fly do not come into play)
  17. Freestone Not to be confused with freestoneangler

    Posts: 2,359
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    Gene, I'm not sure about OR regs but tube 'flies' are not legal in WA Fly Fishing-Only waters as legally, they are not a fly.

    But hey, if dirty ass tubers want to think that they are fly fishing when they tie a lure on their fly line, who am I to judge as I am a dirty ass nympher, LOL!
    Irafly, Dipnet, plaegreid and 2 others like this.
  18. GAT Active Member

    Posts: 4,159
    Willamette Valley, OR
    Ratings: +2,682 / 0
    That's a good point. I'm not sure if they would be classified a fly or a lure in Oregon so they may not be legal in flyfishing only waters. Fact is, I seem to remember reading or hearing that tube flies are not legal to use in the North Umpqua for steelhead in the flyfishing only section.

    That tears it! No tube flies for me!!!


    (I have yet to see Atlantic Salmon Fly tiers tie tube flies for framed display :) )
  19. Jack Devlin Active Member

    Posts: 1,214
    Western Washington, Puget Sound area
    Ratings: +982 / 1
    A few thoughts on tube "flies".
  20. John O'Leary Member

    Posts: 43
    Tri-Cities, WA.
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Not annoyed, but I disagree, at least as to SH flies. I use tubes and waddingtons interchangeably for larger patterns.