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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-05-2004 05:28 AM
Tube Material

As posted is what I use

Tubes I use:

5/32 copper and aluminum tubes that are avail in any hobby shop that carries K&S metal tubes. They are 12" long and run at about $1 each. I then line these with 1/8 ID black automotive air brake line. It is about 20 cents a foot.
I use the metal tubes if I need the weight to get the fly down, otherwise the air brake tubing is fine on its own...and a lot less work than making metal tubes.

Line the metal tube with the air brake tubing, and leave the front end of the air brake liner about 1/16th of an inch longer than the metal tube. Heat the air brake liner tube carefully with a lighter and the result will be a beautifully rolled back lip that rivals factory made tubes.

I leave the rear portion of the liner tube about 1/4 " long and roll the end back with a lighter, this creates a bit of a barb for the hook holder or junction tube.

I then take a short piece of medical IV tubing and slip this over the rear of the liner and bind it down onto the liner tube, with tying thread.

Fly Tyer;

No need to give up your Barracuda....I have found one of the cheapest and best holding tube flie mandrels are as follows

Go to a bicycle shop and ask to see a selection of wheel spokes. Pick the ones that will slip inside your tube material.

The spoke has a nut like nipple on the end of it. This is used to tighten it into the wheel. The nipple is key to the success of the mandrel.

Cut the spoke to the desired tube length.( cut the end opposite the nipple nut) make a hook like bend in the cut end, this is held in you vise jaws, just like an ordinary hook. Now undo the nipple nut and slip on the tube material. Re attach the nipple nut and tighten in down until it makes contact with the tube material. The nipple nut has a nice taper to the leading edge and it will act like a wedge in holding the tube tight, keeping it from rotating when applying your thread and fly materials.

Seriously, this is one of the best tube fly vise adaptors you will find....I am actually thinking of marketing this neat little version.

Try it will end up costing you about $6 for half a dozen assorted length mandrels.

One thing I did forget to mention was how to cut the tubes to length.

After much tinkering around I found that a mini tube cutter is the best way. You can find these in any hobby shop or a hardware store. They are simply a mini version of a common pipe cutter that plumbers use......Forget using a only makes burrs in the tube that are difficult to remove.

For Metal Tubing

The important part about using the cutter is NOT to go all the way through the tube , as it creates a narrowing of the tube wall. What you want to do is to use the cutter to simply score the tube. I adjust the cutter so it makes contact with the tube wall. Then tighten the cutter wheel lightly on the tube, rotate the cutter until it rotates freely without any drag, then adjust it once more and take another couple of turns.

Now stop cutting....remember all you want to do is score it....much like cutting glass. Then I place both thumbs on opposite sides of the score line and gently flex the tubing back and forth
( works best on copper) until it snaps cleanly. If you have made too deep a cut you will need to ream out the cut end. I simply use my scissors in a closed position. Insert the tapered part of my scissors into the narrowing of the tube and lightly ream out the mouth of the tube until the liner fits nicely into the metal tube.

Cutting the Air Brake Tubing: Is done with a safety razor blade; cut it perpendicular to the length for a nice clean, square edge.

By the way ...the liner is Air brake line tubing found in any good automotive store. I use LORDCO here in BC Canada ( not sure if you have that store in the U.S or not). If the parts guy is having a hard time understanding what you need , tell him it is the same line used in the tractor trailer transmission shifters, for the big rigs that use air shifters in their tranny's. It is black, is 1/8th inch inside diameter. Don't get the clear it doesn't melt as nicely as the black.

Also the IV tubing is the best that I have found for making the junction or hook holder , especially when making metal tubes. The reason being, it is very thin walled and it will match the metal tubing diameter exactly without a big lump as you will get if you use air line for aquariums. Makes for a very even body on the fly when finished.

Best regards.....Jake'
01-29-2004 07:38 PM
Swab Shafts

I did find the plastic swab shafts. Marketed by Krugers.

Based on the comments from you all, I performed a little experiment. I took a handfull of swabs and put them in the freezer for a couple of days, then I tried to break them.

No such luck.

01-02-2004 08:00 PM
Gus, very cool how you can 'cut and paste' ..

those pictures! Need to have you and wife-type over for dinner, for a lot of good reasons! the least of which is to show me how you got those cuts of tubes and hooks.

And yes! I'd like to join you in the next order for these.
01-02-2004 05:38 PM
gstrand LOVE the Loop tubes and tube hooks! I have always used them and am just now getting in to the HMH supplies through a friend.

Fred, email me if you want some in my next order and for cost... just got some ordered for Davey to try.

Since I needed a new Holy Water stick I also just ordered a 4wt Grey line rod and 4six FW reel to check out. We'll see!

01-02-2004 12:54 PM
Hope the correct 'site' pops up here.

Ordering (killing my Son's gift certificate) with Aaron in Carnation, WA. Saw the above, thought 'how cool.' Ordered up a couple of packages. Very different 'under body' for tube fly's. Well, looks like I'm short a bit on 'http.' Go to his 'tube section' to see the following.


LOOP Bottle Tubes Click Here $ 9.95

Bottle tubes are machined from bar stock brass, then finely polished, finished and plated. They offer the advantage of constructing heavily weighted compact flies with small streamlined heads. These flies cast easily and sink fast. They also enter and leave the water quietly. Furnished in each package is a length of small tubing that can be used as a liner inside the hole to protect the leader (use optional). There is also a length of very soft plastic hook-holder tubing. Priced per 10.
01-02-2004 11:35 AM

Thanks for all the input. I have been using the factory plastic lined aluminum tubes for a while which I really like and I just thought I would try the swab shafts, but based on what youall have said it dosnt sound like such a good idea. I think Ill go looking for the air brake line.

01-01-2004 05:58 PM
flyfisha1 I just looked through the medicine cabinet and found half a box of Johnson and Johnson swabs; at first glance they look like white paper shafts, though on closer inspection it turns out that they're smooth thin-wall white plastic shafts. These would seem ideal to use for the caudal fins of the braided mylar baitfish patterns that are gaining popularity (i.e. Sato's minnows and the lazer-tinker-type patterns). I'll try to tie some using these shafts this weekend.
01-01-2004 01:56 AM
Brian Simonseth

Try "Tube Works" In Portland Or. Used them for two years. Different sizes and colors .. I saw them first at Skagit/Watcom elec. shop in Mt. Vernon WA.
01-01-2004 12:51 AM
speydoc I would like to qualify Kush & Fredaevans's comments - I do use "Q-tip" style tubes, but only for marabou style ties where the tube is less than .5" in length - certainly for longer flies like intruders the "Q-tip" tubes do have a habit of breaking and for these tubes my personal favourites are Kennebec's "cut to length" tubes in the freshwater size.
12-31-2003 07:42 PM
Tyler pretty much covered it....

"My advice is to stay away from Q-tips (then again, if you want I have a couple of large bags of them somewhere that I will never use - except to clean my ears!)."

He's right ... tied a few ... and chucked them. But, a good thing?, I've got the cleanest ears in Southern Oregon.
12-31-2003 07:18 PM
kush I used to use Q-tip tubes - there is one major reason why I no longer do - they are very fragile. I have had them break from getting too cold and brittle, from banging them on rocks as well as hitting the forward stroke a little early. It really pissed me off to have a pefectly good fly break in the middle! On top of that I also had issues with getting the finished fly off the mandril - the thread pressure would squeeze the tube down .

As I've said in other threads - I now use air brake tubing for most of my flies and narrow graphite tubes from rod tips for my low-water type tubes. My advice is to stay away from Q-tips (then again, if you want I have a couple of large bags of them somewhere that I will never use - except to clean my ears!).
12-31-2003 12:43 AM
DLoop I’ve been tying on tubes for only a few months but here is my input.

The metal tubes that are pre-lined (Kaufman’s sells them) are really nice but too pricey in my opinion.

The metal tubes you can get at hobby shops are nice and priced right and come in smaller diameters (< 1/8” O.D) but you will need to treat the ends so that they do not fray your leader. Steelhead strikes are too far and few between for me to risk loosing one because of a frayed leader. The hobby shops also sell mini tuber cutters ($5) that are just like the ones used for plumbing but for small diameter tubes. I have stopped using this tubing because of the leader issue. Some have had success treating the ends with their Dremel tools.

Metal tubing is also helping in creating a heavier tube fly if getting you fly down is desirable.

As for plastic tubing, in the 1/8” O.D. size I use hard black brake tubing (I got a bunch cheap from Kenworth Trucking parts department in Marysville, WA). This tubing is also flexible enough to accept the eye of your hook so you don’t need to add any flexible tubing to as the hook holder. (Welches fly shop) sells and inexpensive kit of hard plastic tubes (~$3 for a dozen 6” tubes. These kits come with enough flexible tubing in the correct size for hook holders. The hard tubing is in 1/8” O.D, and also 3/32” O.D. which has become my preferred tube size.
12-30-2003 11:31 PM
speydoc Don't use brand name "Q-tips" they are all paper shafted - the cheaper noname brands are generaly hollow plastic e.g. Shopper's Drug Store (Canada) sells the plastic as "Life Brand"
12-30-2003 03:07 PM
Ol Rich

I got my plastic swabs from Kroger. They are pink, yellow and blue.

12-30-2003 02:42 PM
Gad, didn't think that would be a problem.

Try hitting a 'drug (type) store.' They usually come in 300 packs like regular 'q-tips.' One box is a "life time supply." If memory serves, you may only be able to get them in a bright pink.
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