Jul 6, 2011

Land More Fish - Fish a Tube Fly.

Like a diamond yet to be unearthed, the tube fly waits to get its foot into the next willing fly box. But more times than not, it sits there beneath upturned noses and passing glances and it shudders as fingers reach for the General Practitioner tied on a #3 TMC.

It is a formidable battle – to fight tradition and embrace change. But, although fraught with meaning, history is just what the word suggests. History is history. This is a dynamic world. Evolution is all around us. Today is not yesterday. Tomorrow is not today. There are more pieces to the puzzle…

Of course, we all have our preferences; like those who are unwilling to swing a sink tip or those who would prefer to use a bamboo single hander as opposed to a graphite two hander. If these methods peak one’s enjoyment, then evolution is dead and this is ok. End of story. There is no argument against someone’s glowing, stagnant contentment.

But if there is a budding will to land more fish – to lengthen your connection to a pinned steelhead, the benefits of swinging a tube fly should no longer be ignored.


Well it all comes down to the hook. These stinger hooks have a shorter shank which translates into a shorter lever. On longer hooks (even your traditional spey flies in sizes 5 and larger) the fish is more able to spit the hook during battle because this extended lever can often work the sharp end free. Kind of like how the longer the tire iron, the easier the nuts will turn…

Additionally, we are able to set the hook where we want it to sit at the tail of the fly. We can set it with the point riding down or, if we are worried about hooking rocks, we can set it with the point riding up. A hook positioned back towards the end of the pattern helps encourage a solid hookup into the corner of the fishes jaw. This is right where we want it – sunk right into the sinewy corner of the lip. Often when the fish comes up to take the pattern, her mouth will slide down the line and the hook will head straight for the money zone. Patterns tied on fixed hooks with too much material hanging behind will often result in short strikes with no purchase granted.

Days may pass before we get the grab so we need to be swinging flies that have razor-sharp hooks. It is hard enough to locate a willing steelhead so when the time comes we best offer them something that is going to sink in. Tube patterns give anglers the ability to always present a factory fresh point. Believe it or not, changing a hook is quite an easy task. Basically, the mono is threaded through the tube and then a loop is tied at the tag end. (The two most popular loop knots being the Double Surgeons or the No-Slip Mono Loop). The pinched loop is then threaded through the eye of the hook and then seated by passing the hook through the loop and then snugged up tight to the eye. Some hooks are beyond repair or require too much attention in the heat of a run. This is when I reach into my wader pouch and pull out a freshie. (Freshie: Gamakatsu Octopus #2 or Owner #2). I want to turn that otherwise brief encounter into an elongated one. I want to see cunning swath of nature up close and personal.

It should be noted that many stinger-style patterns that are tied on shanks or wire can also accomplish a great hookup. In this case, hooks are fastened on a fixed loop of either heavy mono, backing material or in some cases light gauge wire that is tied into the fly. These are great patterns, but it is typically much more difficult to change out the hook on these flies when the time comes. Often the loop material is either too short, or too thick to make switching it out very efficient.

Well, as if we really need to speak of more benefits of the tube fly, but yes, there are more. One major advantage is fly longevity. When a fixed hook pattern finds that unforgiving stump out in the meat of the run anglers are all too often faced with donating the pattern to the river. Conversely, tube fly patterns that have securely hooked the infamous rock fish are often reeled back into hand with only the hook missing. Furthermore, if the loop that holds the hook is seated loosely to the tube, often the fly will slide up the line, away from the thrashing jaws of the fish. Time and time again, after a formidable battle with a fixed hook pattern, releasing the hook from the jaw is followed by an early fly retirement party.

When it’s time to bust out the sink tip and fish some larger profiled patterns, that’s when I reach for the tube fly. I guess I just enjoy fishing a fly that has the tendency to land fish and remain in the lineup to fish and fish again. It seems that they are all I swing anymore and this will likely be the case until I learn something new that can add to or change the process. As I said before, we all have our preferences. I’m just saying that I prefer the tube fly because I land way more fish when I use them.

We are stalking more tube patterns in the shop this year. Swing on by and we’ll show you the patterns and the hooks we like to fish as well as a quick and easy way to rig up the stinger hooks. Here at the Gorge Fly Shop we honor the annals of history, but we keep an even closer eye on the remarkable, yet completely natural innovations of today. This story is seen in our fly bins. Come check out some of the latest, cutting edge patterns developed from the passionate folks at Idylwilde. Tied by guides. Fished by guides. I guess they want their customers to land more fish, or at least grant us the opportunity…

Have a good time out there,


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