The Thompson Tube is the tube fly version of the Thompson Stone, a fly I designed a few years ago for steelhead on British Columbia’s Thompson River. The fly is relatively easy to tie and requires few materials. The original has been very productive for me on the Thompson and Dean rivers, and the tube version put two Thompson fish on the beach the first day I used it last season.
To tie the Thompson Tube you need the following:
· 1/8in OD (outside diameter) black semi-flexible air brake tubing (sold at auto supply stores)
· fine reddish-brown wire (I got mine from the spools found inside old rotary telephones)
· black dubbing
· black saddle hackle
· black 6/0 thread
· tube fly vice
I generally use the Tiemco 105 “Glo-Bug” hook in size 4 with this fly, and you’ll find that the air brake tubing fits snugly around the hook eye. To be certain, take a hook with you to the auto supply shop and test the fit of the hook eye before you purchase the tubing. Don’t worry too much if the clerks look at you funny—just tell them you’re a fly fisher and they’ll sort of understand. Heck, they might even take pity on you and give you a few feet of tubing for free like they did where I bought mine!
1. cut your tube to desired length—I use 1/2in-to-2in tubes for this fly. If I am using it as a winter dressing on the Skagit or at first light on the Thompson in the fall I’ll use the longer tube.
2. using a lighter, heat one end of the tube by holding the tube close to the flame but not in contact with it. The heated end will curl back a little, forming a nice “head” for the fly. This head will prevent the thread wraps from slipping off the fly.
3. mount your tube in the vice. The air brake tubing has a natural curve to it so make sure the outside of the bend forms the top of the fly.
4. mount your thread at the rear of the fly, leaving @ 1/8in exposed tubing at the back. This exposed tubing will become your hook holder.
5. take several wraps around the thread mount point creating a slight “bump” which will help to flair the rear hackle out around the hook.
6. tie in a saddle hackle with barbs of the appropriate length by the tip in front of the bump of thread. Take several turns of the hackle around the tube, stroking the barbs back with each turn so that the barbs flair out around the back of the tube, creating a shroud that will conceal the hook. Tie off the hackle.
7. wind the thread forward to within 1/8in of the front of the tube.
8. lay the wire across the top of the tube and secure the wire to the tube with thread by winding the thread back to the rear hackle. Then wind the thread forward again, tie off and cut the thread.
9. if you have a rotary tube vice it will pay for itself during this step. Wind the wire forward to the tie off point by rotating the tube with your rotary mechanism. Then, using a pair of old tying scissors snip off the wire, re-mount the thread and secure the wire end to the tube with several turns of thread, making sure to cover the wire end.
10. wind the thread @ 1/3 of the way back toward the rear hackle and tie in a long saddle hackle by the tip. Trim excess. (note: be sure that the barbs on the lower part of the hackle stem are long enough to reach to the mid point of the fly, measuring from the front end of the wire body.)
11. Dub a thorax, leaving @1/8in between the thorax and end of the tube.
12. Palmer the hackle forward to the front of the thorax , stroking the barbs to the rear with each turn, then take several turns around the front of the thorax, forming a hackle collar that shrouds the front half of the fly. Tie off and trim excess.
13. take several turns of thread along the remaining length of tubing and whip finish. Cement with Zap-a-Gap or head cement.
14. Go catch a steelhead.