Zealots and Bigots, WTF!

Tutorials | Fly Tying

Tube Flies

Tutorial and Photographs by Glista | Last Updated: 09.02.2011 |


Tube Flies are an exciting twist on streamer patterns. Keep in mind I tie them mainly for steelhead and Atlantic salmon, but some of them should work well for trout.

Zonkers Slide 1
Tube: Brass, Copper or Aluminum
Body: Pearl flat braid.
Wing: Gray rabbit strip secured at the back of tube as well as front.
Hackle: Red and white mixed.
Head: Gray, red or black

Slide 2
Tube: Brass or Copper
Rib: Oval silver tinsel.
Body: Chartreuse dubbing dressed thin.
Wing: White rabbit strip tied down to the body matuka style with the rib.
Hackle: Chartreuse.
Head: Yellow

Big black steelhead mudler Slide 3
Tube: Brass, Copper or Aluminum.
Tag: Red wire
Rib: Red wire
Body: Orange dubbing.
Wing: Black rabbit strip tied in matuka style with the red wire rib.
Collar: Black deer hair.
Head: Black deer hair spun and trimmed to a bullet shape.

Marabou spiders work good on tubes. Slide 4
Tube: Copper, Brass, Aluminum or Plastic.
Hackle: Purple and white marabou wound around the tube together.
Collar: Natural guinea hackle.
Head: Red

Norwegian style salmon fly. Slide 5
Tube: Plastic (in this case green plastic)
Rib: Oval silver tinsel
Body: Purple
Wing: Chartreuse fox under green flash under Purple fox.
Hackle: Purple cock hackle
Head: Metal cone.

Attaching a cone or bead head to a tube fly is a bit different than attaching one to a standard fly. On a standard fly we would slide the cone or bead over the hook point and move it up the hook shank until it butts up to the hook eye, then we would tie the fly behind the cone or bead. Since a tube does not have a hook eye to stop the cone or bead from sliding off the front of it, the process for securing one in place is a bit different. You will need a lighter and I like to use some super glue to complete the task, although the super glue is not completely necessary.

1. Start by tying the fly on the tube. Leave a portion of the tube extending out past the head of the fly when you tie the fly.

2. Slide the cone or bead onto the tube, apply some supper glue to the head of the fly (optional) and push it back over the head of the fly.

3. Cut the tube so there is about an eighth of an inch sticking out past the tip of the cone or bead.

4. Make sure a mandrill or needle is inserted in the tube and then heat the end of the tube with the lighter until it melts.

5. The mandrill or needle will keep the tube from sealing up when the plastic melts.

6. Melt the plastic of the tube back until it forms a small lip in front of the cone or bead. This lip will hold the cone or bead in place.

I don’t use the cones that much (maybe on about 10%) but I do plan on changing that. Part of the problem is that I fish for Atlantic salmon in Canada and weighted flies are illegal for Salmon fishing.

Last Slide
As for the hook thing, glad you asked. I went through a lot to find good hooks for tube flies. My initial experiments with tube flies went very poorly primarily, I think, because of the hooks I started using. Most of the mail order catalogs I got and some fly shop employees recommended using the Daiichi X510 Xpoint hook for tube flies (hook in upper right of the attached picture). And since this was the only source of info on the subject I could find I went for it. My hookup and landing percentages sucked with this hook.

The next hook I tried was Partridge Boilie hook (hook in upper left of the picture), again on the recommendation of a fly shop person I met at one of the fly fishing shows I worked at over the winter. This hook seemed to be better than the X510 but my hookups where still not on par with standard fly hooks for some reason.

I was getting ready to give up the ghost on tube flies when a colleague recommended using a different hook, the Daiichi 2451 (hook in lower right of the picture). This hook worked very well both in terms of fish hooked and fish landed. And it is easy to get. It is still my go to hook for tubes.

A fourth hook I have started to use is the Partridge Salar tube fly hook (hook in lower left of the picture). This hook is specifically designed for tube flies and has a larger than normal eye that seats very well in the junction tubing. This hook also worked very well both in terms of fish hooked and fish landed. They may be a bit heavy for trout and they are hard to find so this probably rules them out.

I’m sure these are not the only single hooks that would work well for tube flies but they are the ones I have used and have some good experience with.

Glista is a true craftsman. His fly box will make you cry, throw away your vice and give up altogether. He has generously donated his patterns for the betterment of your skills and fishing. You can see more of Glista’s patterns under Charlies Fly Patterns at Oak Orchard Flies. Glista you are a scholar and a gentleman. Hazaaa! PS - Oak Orchard is a favorite fly shop of ours and their staff have it dialed in for the Buffalo area fishing opportunities.