Why tube flies?


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)


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 :) )
Not annoyed, but I disagree, at least as to SH flies. I use tubes and waddingtons interchangeably for larger patterns.
You are correct, of course. I was generalizing. I should retract that statement. Just stirring the pot a bit. I was thinking of some of the simpler patterns.
I've modified the statement.


The wanted posters say Tim Hartman
If you think a SRC has "short striked", just continue your retrieve, perhaps imparting a slightly different action to your fly, and that fish will be back to finish the job. Often, they just "hit" the fly, possibly to stun the prey. I think this is what might be called "short strike"???? In many cases, I think the angler is pulling the fly from the fish's mouth. Feel the fish and tighten against the pull or weight of the fish .
That follows what I was taught when I was a kid fishing out of Pt. Defiance. One of the Boathouse "old-timers" took me under his wing and taught me how to fish SRC. It was all bait and gear but he taught me that when trolling "fire cracker" herring for these wily fish, when you got a hit you should kick the motor into neutral, strip a little bit of line out in order to let the herring drift as if stunned and then wait for the line to come tight before setting the hook.
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?
The most important advantage of tube patterns is that in most situations they are gentler/cause less harm to hooked fish.

I tie all top water flies as tube patterns for the following reasons: (1) they float better thus less foam needs to be used, (2) smaller lighter hooks can be used, (3) can use foam shapes that give realistic profiles. My favorite top water patterns(see photo) are: sand lance, Delia's squid, pile, worm, and chum fry. For floatation I use: 1/8 and 1/4 inch diameter cylinders, small sized pencil popper, and foam dinks(hook size 10).



Tim, I started tying tube flies a few years ago for silvers and cutt's, I think for salmon they are great but don't like them for SRC's, I've had more misses on tube flies than standard flies on short shank hooks. Others may have had different experiences but I'll stick with short shank hooks like Gama CS15 for cutt's and don't feel they are any harder on the fish then tube flies, unlike long shank hooks...

I agree with Jack about cutt's and short strikes, just doesn't happen very often IMO so there's no reason to worry about having the hook at the rear of the fly, (unlike silvers) in fact I think it's a disadvantage... I've caught very small cutt's on fairly large flat wings and the tails are six times longer than of the hook, but they know right where to bite them and it's not the end of the tail !!!

I would agree with Roger as far as top water patterns go, makes perfect since to use tubes, due to there lighter weight,
and I have some in my box...

I think you should tie up a few for the fun of it and some for the silvers next fall...


Pat Lat

Mad Flyentist
Im split on this one I like them both but for different flies. Light patterns that I want to wake through the surface I usually like tubes. They Create more of a disturbance and the hook at the rear seems to help when stripping quickly over pods of fish.
If I dont get any surface action or see any movement I will tend to switch over to a flatwing and fish it slower which has much more movement than a tube pattern. When this is the case I rarely get short strikes even with long sand lance patterns, or at least I never feel them. Instead it usually gets slammed.
So my vote is tubes for topwater, and hooks at the head for slower deeper work.
I am not a fan of tube "flies" for SRC, but I do like them for Silvers. When I fish for Silvers I am fishing for the table so whatever works is fine with me and tube "flies" are a good fit with Silvers.


Active Member
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!

Now I am confused, how are they like lures? I've tied maybe a two dozen tubes for steelheading as the temps drop in late fall, but they are all patterns I used to tie on AJ's, or in the case of intruders, on shanks. Why are these same patterns lures if they are tied on a plastic tube? Not trying to be negative at all, just curious as I am new to tubes.


Active Member
Now I am confused, how are they like lures? I've tied maybe a two dozen tubes for steelheading as the temps drop in late fall, but they are all patterns I used to tie on AJ's, or in the case of intruders, on shanks. Why are theses same patterns lures if they are tied on a plastic tube? Not trying to be negative at all, just curious as I am new to tubes.
No problem, thanks for asking for clarification.

Tube flies do not meet the WDFW definition of a fly; they would be classified as a lure and therefore, are illegal in Fly fishing-only waters.

WDFW Definitions: (pgs 10-11 of Regs)

Fly: A lure on which thread, feathers, hackle, or yarn cover a minimum of half of the shank of the hook. Metallic colored tape, tinsel, mylar, or bead eyes may be used as an integral part of the design of the fly pattern.

Lure: A manufactured article, complete with hooks, constructed of feathers, hair, fiber, wood, metal, glass, cork, leather, rubber, or plastic, which does not use scent and/or flavoring to attract fish.


The regs as to what is and what is not a fly in Oregon is a little vague. Most likely, if you ventured into the state with tube flies, I believe you can fish the flyfishing only fisheries without a problem.


if you want to fish the famous North Umpqua, from July 1 through Sept 30, you can not use a tube fly ... this is the purist period if time (tweed jackets are required) :D

Special Gear Restrictions and Closures:

July 1-Sept. 30 all angling restricted to use of single barbless unweighted artificial fly.

For the purposes of this rule, an unweighted artificial fly is defined as: “a conventional

hook that is dressed with natural or artificial materials, and to which no molded weight

(such as split shot, jig heads or dumbbell eyes), metal wire, metal beads, bead chain

eyes, or plastic body are affixed, and to which no added weight, spinning or attractor

device, or natural bait is attached.”

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