Anyone who knows me well (at least with regards to fishing) knows that when it comes to tying flies for steelhead, tying on a tube is my preferred method. My fly boxes are crammed with flies tied on plastic, aluminum & copper tubes with various heads, cones, and discs. Whenever anyone gets a look at my flybox, the question always comes up, “Why Tubes?”. In the world of steelhead swinging flies, the traditional salmon hook is still arguably the most popular while shank flies with trailer hooks are the latest trend. I became a fan of tube flies due a few main advantages that tube flies offer which I plan to outline in this article.
When you buy tubes, you buy them in lengths and cut them to the length required for your fly. You don’t need to buy a variety of hooks and shanks to create flies in various sizes, this offers a cost savings up front, and you’ll never run out materials to create a fly of a specific size. There is also a wide range of cone & disc offerings to use on tubes where their use on bare hooks and shanks are problematic.
Due to the increased size of a tube compared to a hook shank, your fly can have a larger body without having to buildup a body on a shank with floss or dubbing, this saves time and allows you to pump out more flies faster. You can also buy tubing in a wide range of colours, so you can skip making a body entirely if you are tying a simple winged fly.
If you tie your fly on a bare hook and damage the point or straighten it on a snag, your fly is done. On a shank with a wire stinger loop, you can swap your hook out, but it’s a huge pain when fishing in cold winter temps with freezing hands. With a tube fly it’s easy, pop the junction tubing off your fly cut your hook off and tie on another with your favourite cold weather knot and you are back to fishing.
There is a lot of talk in the industry about the way a fish and dislodge a hook by shaking it’s head, there are also many misconceptions, I’ll do my best to explain with a visual. If you hold a short, 8 inch or so piece of string in your hand loosely, and wave it around, you’ll see that the string doesn’t slip out of your fingers easily, due to the lack of weight. If you clamped a split shot onto that piece of string and wave it around, there is a higher likelihood of that string slipping through your loose grip.
When fighting a fish the same applies, when a steelhead shakes it’s head that heavy intruder will try to get away from the fish, working the hook out and making the hole in the fishes mouth bigger. If you can’t keep pressure on that big fish, it can eventually throw that fly. With a tube fly, the tubing will disconnect from the hook when the fish gives it’s head a good shake, this will cause the heavy tube to slide up the line and the energy from the headshakes will not transfer to the fly as it is freely sliding on the line. All the weight the fish has to throw is a bare hook, which is similar to when you were waving around the piece of string with no weight on the end.
A “Bottle Tube” is essentially a brass body which you slide over a piece of plastic tubing. These bottle tubes are heavy and don’t offer much wind resistance which makes them easy casting and fast sinking. got a fish hiding in an under cut bank? Deep Pool? Slot? A bottle tube can make long deep swings in deep water or make tactical presentations when fish are in structure much more easily then a fly with big dumbbell eyes.
I saved the best for last. My favourite feature of tube flies are turbo discs. They are essentially an almost flat piece of brass which you put on the front of the fly as a head. This disc serves two purposes, the first is that when the fly is holding in the current or being stripped, the disc causes a disturbance in the water or as some say “pushing water”. The lateral line of the fish feels this disturbance and alerts the fish to the presence of the fly, similar to a spinner lure. The second is that the disc creates turbulence in the water behind it, this makes soft materials such as marabou, arctic fox and flashabou pulse seductively, creating a great visual for an aggressive fish.
Getting into Tubes
The easiest way to get into fishing with tube flies is to pick up a Heritage Angling Products Starter Kit. This will include everything you need to get going, included will be two sizes of tubing(they fit inside each other perfectly), brass cones, bottle tubes and a vise adaptor that you need to mount the tube on the vise.
This kit can be purchased from www.FlyMart.ca alternately contact Scott Currie at 1-888-811-1163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.