The Evolution of Tube Flies in North America

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Fly fishing is a sport that’s always on the move. We’re constantly learning from the past, tweaking things, and making them our own. Take a look at how fly designs have transformed, for instance. That’s where tube flies enter the scene, bringing a bunch of advantages along with them.

What is a Tube Fly?

Simply put, a tube fly isn’t tied onto a traditional hook shank. Instead, it’s constructed around a tube, onto which you can attach your choice of hook. And while this sounds simple enough, the list benefits are lengthy.

Advantages of Tube Flies

As I mentioned, there are lots of reasons to use tube flies. Here are a few of my favourites:

Versatility in Hook Size: With a tube fly, you’re no longer married to a fixed hook size. Whether you’re chasing steelhead or chinook salmon, you can easily swap hooks to suit your target.
Adjustable Hook Placement: Depending on the fly’s length and where you expect fish to strike, you can position the hook optimally.
Stackable Design: Need a longer fly? Just stack multiple tubes together to achieve your desired length.
Interchangeable Colors: By stacking different colored tubes, you can quickly adapt to the fish’s preferences.
Weight Customization: Whether you pre-fit your fly with a tungsten bead or add weight on the go, tube flies give you that flexibility.
Durability: With tube flies, once the hook dulls or gets damaged, replace the hook, not the fly.

Modern Tools and Materials

With the rise of tube fly popularity, tools adapted. No longer do you need a specialized vise. With the right adapter, your regular vise is all you need. As for materials, the market offers a plethora, from brass to plastic tubes. And while there’s a wealth of options out there, remember: they all work, and the fish won’t spot the difference.

Using a Tube Fly

Now, let’s talk about how you can use it. Tube flies offer anglers a unique advantage because they provide flexibility. Here’s how it works:

Select Your Tube: First, choose the type and size of tube you want to use. Tubes come in various materials, sizes, and colors, so you can tailor your selection to the fish you’re targeting and the conditions you’re fishing in.
● Tie in Your Materials: Like traditional flies, you can add your choice of fly materials to the tube. This includes things like feathers, fur, and synthetic materials that imitate the natural prey of the fish you’re targeting.
● Attach the Hook: Once you’ve chosen your tube, you attach your hook to it. The type of hook you use can vary depending on your preference and the species you’re after. This step allows you to easily change hooks if needed.
Fishing Techniques: Now, you’re ready to fish! Tube Flies can be used with a variety of fishing techniques, such as stripping, swinging, or trolling, depending on your goals and the conditions. They often have a unique swimming action in the water, which can be very effective at attracting fish.

So, even if you’re new to fly fishing, tube flies are worth knowing about because they can make your fishing experience more versatile and exciting, allowing you to adapt to different situations and increase your chances of a successful catch.

The Tube Fly Verdict

At the end of the day, tube flies are not just a trend; they represent a significant leap in fly fishing innovation. They offer unparalleled versatility, better catch-and-release practices, and even cost savings in the long run. So next time you’re at your tying table, give tube flies a whirl. Whether you’re targeting steelhead, salmon, or even marlin, they might just be the game-changer you’re looking for.

Picture of April Vokey

April Vokey

April Vokey is a fly fishing writer, FFF certified casting instructor, fly-tyer, speaker, writer/host of the original WFN series, Shorelines with April Vokey, and host of the popular fishing podcast, Anchored.  After ten years of guiding in British Columbia, she now splits her year between camp in northern BC and Australia.

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