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natrix 12-30-2003 10:09 AM

Tube Flies
I have read about using plastic Q-tip shafts as tubes, but I have not been able to find them. Anybody know what brand has a plastic shaft rather than a paper shaft.


fredaevans 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.

Ol Rich 12-30-2003 03:07 PM

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


speydoc 12-30-2003 11:31 PM

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"

DLoop 12-31-2003 12:43 AM

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.

kush 12-31-2003 07:18 PM

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 :mad:.

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!).

fredaevans 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.:devil:

speydoc 01-01-2004 12:51 AM

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.

Brian Simonseth 01-01-2004 01:56 AM

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. :) :)

flyfisha1 01-01-2004 05:58 PM

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.

natrix 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.


fredaevans 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.

gstrand 01-02-2004 05:38 PM

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!


fredaevans 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! :D 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.

natrix 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.


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