Tube Fly Vises and Material
There are vises out there made to tie tube flies,
adapters to fit specific vises as well as adapters
that fit most brand vises. Renzetti makes a tube
fly vice or you can purchase the head alone and adapt
it to the Traveler Series Vises. The Renzetti
can tie flies up to four inches long. This vise is
reasonably priced, more so if you already have the
The Nor-Vise System has a Tube Fly attachment
that can tie tube flies in a wide range of sizes as
well. This is a upper end vise price wise, but like
the Renzetti, if you already have the vise,
the addition is reasonably priced.
Another tube fly vise from a well-known brand is the
Dyna-King Tube Fly Vise 2000. Although it has
many great features and looks sharp, again this is an
upper end vise and is a single purpose vise as it can
only be used to tie tube flies.
Much less expensive and my preference is the adapters
that are made to fit all most any vise. These can be
found easily on the Internet. Most are less than
twenty dollars and work quite well. However there
are two styles of mandrels and it is by far best
to get the adapters that come with the FULL HEAD
Mandrels and not the mandrels that are merely bent
at a ninety degree angle. This will be explained
in detail later.
When choosing the adapter, also consider the vise it
will be used with. The adapters consist of a body
which is mounted to the vise just like you would a
hook. For this reason, the jaws of the vise must be
able to hold the body much like 2/0 hooks or larger.
All tube vises use mandrels that come single or in
sets of several sizes, that size being in diameter.
However the length of the mandrel is important
especially when tying long saltwater flies.
Another thing to consider is the ability of the vise
to work with the mandrel. Below you see that the
mandrels will not work with my DanVise.
Fortunately I have a second vise that fills the
need without any problems.
The reason I previously mentioned about full head
mandrels vs. Bent heads is it can make all the
difference for a clean whip finish at the head
of the fly. As seen in example #1 the bent head
will allow the head wraps to slip off if extra care
is not taken.
Full head mandrels have a full round head for the
tube material to butt up against and will not allow
the head wraps to slip off while wrapping as seen in
Lastly, nails with flat heads, can be used as mandrels,
if you can find one that your tube material will fit.
The biggest problem is finding one that is long enough
if you are tying large salt or striper bass style flies.
Straightened out paper clips of various sizes work as
bent head mandrels also.
Now let us take a look at tube material. Basically, if
it's hollow and can be trimmed, it can be a tube fly.
However care must be taken that some material not trimmed
properly WILL cut your leader/tippet! Also consider
sink rates as well as what effect water will have
on the material.
There are materials out on the market specifically
made for tube flies; Aluminum, brass, hard plastic
and soft plastic. These materials are not expensive
and the metal tubes come pre-sized, flared and some
with Teflon liners on the inside.
Then there are the common household items, which make
great tube flies. For instance; Q-Tips are hard
plastic, hollow and different brands have different
colored tubes. Just pull off the cotton swabs and
presto a two-inch tube body!
My absolute favorite material is soft polyline used
in a wide varity of applications. Any manufacturing
using low-pressure pneumatics as an energy source will
often use this material. Aquarium owners use this
stuff all the time for their air pumps. Polyline
comes in a large range of colors and, is bought by the
foot from rolls.
If you know anyone in manufacturing that uses polyline,
there is always unused scrap anywhere from a couple
of inches up to a foot.
Finally there are the hooks. The three main types used
are spey hooks, treble and egg hooks. Egg hooks for the
reason that they have the shortest shank of the single
hook family. Partridge makes Tube fly hooks,
one type is the "Nordic Single Tube Fly." Spey and
treble hooks are for more specific species including
Saltwater and for some inland bass such as Stripers.
But mostly it's all in the preference of the fly-fisher.
Next week Part 3; "Tying and Rigging the Tube Fly."
Until next time good fishing!