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Tube Flies for the Warm Water Fly Fisher, Part 1


By Johnny (aka Hillfisher), Texas

Why Tube Flies?

Prelude: Why Tube Flies you ask? For those avid fly tyers who are always looking for something new or just different to try, I will be doing a multi-part article on Tube Flies for the warm water fly fisher. The first part "Why Tube Flies" will introduce you to the tube fly. The second part "Tube Fly Vises and Material" will cover the vises and materials used when tying. The third Part "Tying the Tube Fly" will cover various methods of tying a tube fly, do's and don'ts, as well as rigging tube flies to your line. Lastly the fourth part will cover patterns that work for the panfish and bass in our southern waters. Enjoy!

Tube flies get very little credit here in America. In fact the first time I ever heard of them was during my Naval days talking with some European friends. Google search on the internet produces very little information but it will turn up some books on the subject as well as one place I have found that provides tube material specifically made for tube flies (more on that in another part).

Tube flies have been in use in Europe, more so the Scandinavian countries, for some time. However they have never seemed to catch the attention of the American fly fisher. However an exception to this is that the Atlantic salmon fly fishers have been tying various patterns on tubes for years. Saltwater fly fishers are beginning to use tube style flies for several blue water species. They are all but non-existent to the warm water fly fisher. For the warm water anglers who use tube flies, the Bass fishing can be extremely rewarding!

Tube flies offer several advantages over traditional patterns tied on hook shanks. Since the pattern is tied to some sort of hollow tube like material, hook size and style can be varied to match the type of fishing you are doing. Instead of having the same pattern tied on several hook sizes and styles, a couple of patterns in two sizes can be swapped with several hooks. Another advantage is recovery of the fly when the hook becomes embedded in a tree limb or some other obstacle. Recovery is almost 100 percent as the fly is not attached to the hook and will slide off the tippet when the line breaks. Again this depends on the rigging style of the fly, which will be covered in part three. You can also combine different actions into a single fly. An example of this is adding a popper head in front of a tube fly when surface disturbance is needed. Another advantage is often times the fly will move up the leader once a fish is hooked. This can extend the life of the fly by not being in the way when using forceps to remove the hook and by the fish not continuing to chew on the fly. Normally hooks used with tube flies are short shanked, but of various sizes. Essentially you would only have to bring along a few hooks of the sizes you need to fish and as many tube flies as deemed necessary.

Additionally, and to me, the best attribute tube flies have is their movement on all axis. By this I mean the fly can spin around the leader if rigged correctly. This additional action can sometimes make the difference in successful bass fishing. I have tried both spinning and non-spinning methods with the same fly and at times the spin produced more hits.

Lastly, when you think tube fly, think streamer flies. This is the way a tube fly is normally fished. There are modifications for floating a tube fly, some quite extravagant and others simple. However subsurface streamer style is where the tube fly is most effective. It's for this reason they're an excellent choice for fly-fishing the warm water bass. White Bass, Guadalupe Bass, Stripper Bass, and Black Bass respond well to tube flies.

Next week Part 2 "Tube Fly Vises and Material".

Until next time good fishing! ~ Hillfisher

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