Tube flies worth it? [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Tube flies worth it?

11-16-2001, 08:57 PM
Okay, like I need another footlocker full of tying stuff! But other than fly length and sink-rate, is it worth getting into tube flies? What with Winter on the horizon, and salmon in the crosswalks, I've been getting ready to tie up a couple boxes, and I noticed all the tube flies in the archives. Just another cool way to tie, or the next step in my tying evolution?

Fred Evans
11-16-2001, 09:48 PM
Lordie, am I waiting for folks who know what they're doing to respond to this question. Next 'raid' on my wallet?
Not sure: :>) or :>(

11-16-2001, 10:12 PM
Absolutely! I've only been fishing tubes for a couple years now but I'm a firm believer in them. The #1 reason is the percentage of fish that you beach. I used to beach around 50 or 60% of the fish I hooked. Sometimes more and sometimes less. With tube flies I beach closer to 85% of the fish I hook. The secret is the hook........a Tiemco 105 (glo-bug hook) in a size 4. The Daiichi glo bug hook, #X510, is another good one to use especially on weighted tubes. These small hooks do not let go! I like the 1.5" tubes. I tie "in the round" usually. I like the pre-cut tubes better because they are softer and you can wedge the eye of the hook inside better than you can with the cut to size tubes.(or using QTips!)

Instead of buying some expensive tube fly vise for $70.00 or more there is a great little gadget out there that works with your existing vise. You put it in the jaws and it's designed to hold tubes. $19.95. I forgot the name of the manufacturer.

Now DRY tube flies are a different story. I've done quiet a bit of experimenting with them last week and I don't think I like them. With a bomber/mooseturd/caddis a steelhead will take your fly and they seem to hold onto it long enough to turn and hook em. Maybe it's because of how it feels in their mouth. But my dry tube doesn't have anything soft or natural feeling on it and it seems like the fish would rise to it but immediately spit it out. More experimenting needed!! I'm going tomorrow! I'll post.

11-16-2001, 11:42 PM
Tube Flies?

Not meaning to raise the ire of the flyfishing community as this is just one persons humble opinion.

HMH makes the $20 tube fly attachment for your vise jaws, along with the rest of the ready made tubes in plastic, brass, and aluminum.

I too started down the tube road a few years back, and as GB Skunk stated, they really do improve your landing ratio of hooked fish. No question about it, they are effective.

However, after a short time (Less than one year)the novelty wore off. I asked myself, "Is this really a fly?" MY CONCLUSION was that this was too close to lure fishing for MY TASTES. In total jest, I now refer to them as "Tube Lures".

I guess the fun is now giving my good fishing partner a hard time for fishing his "lures", and his giving it back for landing all those fish while mine come unpinned. Oh well, it's only for fun anyway!



11-17-2001, 12:12 AM
The tube fly is still a fly, more or less...
Remember, fly fishing is mostly a delivery method of transporting our offering to the fishes. That is why they are called fly rods.
Streamer, (like lures) are patterns of fish, they too are not true flies. Yet we use them...
Spinning rods can cast flies with a bobber or split-shot, the fly then becomes it's lure. Lures can become flies if you can cast them. (I can feel Issic Walton's ghost scowling at me as I type this)
"Sorry Issic."
Bottom line, what ever makes you happy. If you catch more fish because of the tube flies, great! :)
The whole idea is to enjoy yourself.

11-17-2001, 09:17 AM
All flies are lures. I don't know why people try to separate these two concepts. Perhaps it's because one might be carved from a block of hardwood brandishing multiple barbed trebles dangling from every orifice on swiveling split rings and screw eyes whereby the other might be a wispy dun lighting on a spring creek. All flies are lures, but not all lures are flies.

The first and last sentences above are the key to the riddle. I accept that flies ARE lures. In many classic texts on the sport, they were referred to as lures, not flies.

When I look at a tube fly I see a lure that is a fly. It's nothing new, in fact tube flies have been in use for a long long time in the AS rivers of the north atlantic. Because the same materials are tied on a cylinder instead of a hook shaft, nothing changes in the way I (personally, and this is totally subjective) see it.

When I see a wiggle-wart, Vibrax #4, hot shot, Leo's jig, corky n' yarn, hammered spoon, pink worm, etc - I also see a lure... but not a fly.

BTW - When I see a tube fly with a treble hook hanging off the back that sets off my not-a-fly alarm everytime. }>

I guess it's all subjective, like purism. We know our own limits and although these limits make for interesting conversation they are to each his/her own within the bounds of the laws and regulations of the fishery.

11-17-2001, 01:44 PM
juro (11-17-2001 09:17 a.m.):
All flies are lures. SNIP! All flies are lures, but not all lures are flies.


I guess it's all subjective, like purism. We know our own limits and although these limits make for interesting conversation they are to each his/her own within the bounds of the laws and regulations of the fishery.

Yeah... But is it worth tying them? :-)

11-17-2001, 02:03 PM
A few thoughts from a relative newbie to tubeflies. I have been experimenting with them for only a few months. Les Johnson got me started when I was preparing for my Skeena trip. To be honest, I don't find them as pleasurable to tie but I do enjoy how they fish. Maybe once I get by the fact they just don't look like a fly, I will be more apt to fish them more. My problem has nothing to do with the lure v. fly argument above, I just don't find them as attractive and graceful.

One advantage, other than landing ratio, that I can see is the ability to modify your offering as water conditions warrant. Case in point, in BC we were fishing for fish that were not shy. One of the favorite local patterns on the Kispiox is the string leech which is 4-6" long. Les took me aside and told me that if I got up there and found the river going out, to slide a tube or two on above my fly. Sure enough, we fished two days on the Bulkley with marginal river conditions. The last day I was fishing a black marabou on a 1/0 Tiemco but had two 1/2" tubes above it, the first in red and the top one in black. The weight was minimal, it cast well and it made a large target in the 18" vis. of the river. (One yank to show for it.)

Another advantage is by being able to use smaller hooks, the risk of incidental mortality should be lowered. No longer do you need a 2/0 or 3/0 iron to get the fly down tot he fish. Of course many anglers simply weight there flies to achieve this. Me, I have never liked how a heavily weighted fly swam.

Most of my winter fishing is done with two patterns: an orange and red marabou spider and my black scampi. Both have adapted easliy to conversion to the tube. In the next couple of months, we will see how the fish like them.


11-17-2001, 02:39 PM

Yes, they are worth tying. It is a minimal investment to get started, and just as in all fly tying, your imagination is the limit of what you can do.

I found that they were no more effective than traditional flies for hooking fish, just more effective in landing them. One more positive would be when you damage the hook, just replace the hook 'cause the fly isn't ruined at the same time.

If you like to wake flies for steelhead, plastic tubes require no hitch as they wake all on their own.

Now for the "ire"part. I had hoped that my previous post's preface would not have started this thread down the purist/elitist/snob road, but it is creeping that way anyway!

Tube Flies are just that: Flies for Flyfishing.


11-17-2001, 04:22 PM
I was referring to a post-partway down and forgot the main point, Philster. dOh!

No way I can answer the real question for you but here is about all I know about tube flies:

Positives, IMHO -

Experimenting with tube flies made a big difference in the hook and hold ratio when fishing the salt for coho for me. I started tying SW flies in the traditional patterns most of which use short hooks relative to dressing length. Tube flies are way superior to short hooks on long flies for coho and although long shank hooks are fine for smaller patterns I still think a shorter tube hook independent of the long shank results in better holding of thrasing coho than a long solid shank IMHO.

One of the points made in tube fly use in the UK (atlantic salmon anglers in books I've read) was the ability to re-use a dressing when the hook was damaged. Makes sense.

Since you can tie a palomar knot you get a little more strength than a double turle with a fine summer leader. Makes 6# practical again for me.

Tubes can be found in plastic, aluminum, brass, lined/unlined, pre-cut or self-cut lengths, etc. Not all are heavy in fact some are very light. There is an infinite choice of length, and almost every diameter you could want.

You don't need a fly box to carry them in! After tying some real fishy looking summer tube flies, Doublespey just pops them in his shirt pocket on his way to the river - pretty cool! Dana sent his tube flies to the last swap in a film cannister - all of them fit nicely (check the archives).

You can vary the hook size and style according to the need, on the spot.

You can probably toothpick the tube onto the tippet and not lose it everytime you lose the hook on a rock (although you certainly won't get it back every time either).

You get a much more pronounced presence of color and material using about the same amount of stuff on the larger diameter of the tube than a wire shank.

It's a great way to tie huge winter flies without a huge winter hook as someone already pointed out.

It's been fun to experiment and learn something new, a whole new area to tinker with if you love to tinker with fly stuff.

Problems I've had:

If I forget to leave enough extra tube and cut it off last, I tend to whip finish too close to the tool and end up compressing the tube onto the anvil so tight I can't get it off. Obviously this is more prone to occur with plastic than brass.

That's about it.

General observations:

I am often tempted to tie in the round when using tubes although I have tied traditional patterns and they swam fine due to the distribution of materials. This is not a problem but an observation.

Sinktips note about Les Johnson's tip is a winner! I will definitely keep this in mind for the spring visit. Hmmm.... I can see the double decker tube already. The "Big Mac" }>
Those big Skagit fish certainly aren't shy.

11-17-2001, 11:37 PM
If you were trying the "tube fly" for the first time, would it be a test-tube fly?