Kennebec River Tube Fly Tool
If you tie tubes, you need this tool. I was getting heavy into the saltwater coho scene when I discovered that the position of the hook made a difference in the number of fish you'd land. Well, I guess it stands to reason that the classic salmon rig uses two snelled hooks on one leader - salmon just don't go for head [img]http://22.214.171.124/images/flytalk/Wilk.gif" border="0" align="middle"> What I mean is, you can throw a 12 inch fly with a 1 inch hook up front and still hook a striper... he is tuned into the head. The coho is a side-swiper, as I imagine most salmonids are (hence the design of 4x long Maine streamers, etc).
When the action gets hot around tide rips in the Strait of Juan DeFuca, you need something you can cast and I do not have any desire to cast a standard two-hook salmon rig on my fly rod. I turned to tubes. Fortunately, the Swallows Nest flyshop (downtown Seattle) had gentleman by the name of Les Johnson on it's staff. He is perhaps the most experienced contemporary saltwater/coho fly guy around Puget Sound - and a heck of a steelheader too. To some he's a bit of a legend in the making - you can count me in that crowd.
Anyway, he shows me this little chunk of Yankee ingenuity from out old town way... the Kennebec River Tube Fly tool. After the obligatory down Maine praise and another belt of my espresso, he continued to explain the device. It was so new then that he was using the machined prototype. The "keeper notch" (a little edge used to prevent tube rotation) was machined and sharp. He mentioned that he was going to refuse sending it back, with the mirthful smile of a teen. The mass produced ones just didn't have as much bite to them, but this hasn't been an issue for me. I believe it was around $45, but I must say it was worth every penny. Kind of like the Mattarelli whip finisher (another hot debate item <img src="http://126.96.36.199/images/flytalk/Wilk.gif[/img] ).
It comes with several mandrels of varying diameters, each tapered slightly to hold the tube from the inside. There is also a vise jig, that fits any vise (I liked that). Each mandrel fits into the jig and you tie around the tube body. Once done, you simply loosen the jig and pull the mandrel out of the tube. OK - so I use the term "simply" liberally. About the only problem with this whole blissful affair is the removal of tightly wrapped tube flies from mandrels when using a compressible tube like plastic in combination with high-tension thread patterns like salmon fly bodies wrapped with floss and tinsels, etc.
This is not a problem with aluminum, brass or other tubes. You can also use a slimmer mandrel (you get a bunch of different sizes) although there is risk of slippage.
In any case, now that I am back in the NE I still use my little gizmo of Yankee Ingenuity when tying big squid or articulated patterns for stripers and other eastern SW gamefish.
If you tie tubes, ya gotta have one!