By Skip Clement
Tube flies have been around for thousands of years. Indigenous and dedicated tribesmen fishers from the Pacific Northwest were using them 10,000 years ago.
Modern tube flies, 1945, are credited to an Aberdeen, Scotland “fly-dresser” named Minnie Morawski for use catching Atlantic salmon.
Today, tube flies are widely embraced in Europe fly fishing for trouts and salmons and universally by offshore anglers trolling for big game fish like billfish and supported by outriggers dragging baits and engaging in the ploy of bait and switch.
Avoiding the use of tube flies is to ignore that there is a much better way to catch fish
Tying tube flies have little or no requirement for a change in one’s tying modus operandi. It only changes the catch outcome, and that always surpasses conventional tying “feathers and fur” directly on the hook shank.
One of the key design features of a tube fly is that once the fish is hooked the fly will ride up the leader away from fish, thus salvaging the fly while lessening the leverage the fish can apply because it can only use the bare hook.
Why Tube Flies?
1. Tubes give you more control over the weight of your fly. By just changing up the type of tube your pattern is tied on, you can have the same fly with dramatically different weights.
2. With tube flies, it is possible to take a great hook-tied pattern and make it either or both broader and longer. Often a fly with a more prominent profile can make all of the difference.
3. Tube flies land you more fish. Since the tube usually detaches from the hook, the shorter shank makes it tougher for a fish to thrash it out – gain leverage.
4. Tube flies are long-lived. The fly usually slides up the line when a fish is hooked. That way no fish teeth touch the feathers and fur.
5. With tube flies, you can quickly change the hook size or orientation of the hook to accommodate whatever species you are fishing.
6. Tube flies can also be combined with beads, cones, and spacers either in front or behind, giving you more possibilities.
7. Tubes are much easier to carry – literally stored in a pants pocket.
8. Hooks can also be transported in one’s pocket, in their original packaging or as a pre-tied leader.
9. Tube flies are “generally” easier to cast than similarly tied conventional hook tied flies.
10. Most fly fishers with experience using tube flies, say that they catch more fish compared to fishing with conventionally hook tied flies. Thus far, the agreement on that subject has been almost 100%, and it has been my reality as well.
Fly fishers, except those in pockets around the Pacific Northwest of both Canada and the US, as well as Canadian and US Great Lakes regions, have yet to embrace tube flies as a viable alternative and that is also reflected in a lack of product in fly shops.
However, that said, tube fly product is generally found in small supply in most up-to-speed fly shops with some even having a decent inventory of tying product, knowledge of tube fly tying and tube flies for sale.
If your local shop does not support tubes, online Googling will take you to the promised land.