Sunday, April 5, 2015

Trout Flies on Tubes or Tube Flies for Trout

However one says it, the point here is that tube flies are great for trout.  Many anglers out there still think that tubes are only for bigger fish - like steelies, salmon, and stripers and other saltwater gamefish.

But some anglers (a growing number) are fishing tubes for trout and smallies, for example.  Virtually any of the streamer patterns work great on these fish.  And many other specialty fly patterns (like crayfish, for example) are being created and fished effectively.

Many medium and small patterns that we fish for trout may, in fact, be better when tied on a tube.

So the real issue here is the answer to this question:  when would you NOT want to put a fly pattern on a tube (the implied opposite point of view being that ALL fly patterns can be tied on a tube…)

Well, here is a Stimulator i tied up to illustrate my thesis. (The recipe and step-by-step are further below in this post).

The hook in my finger in the image above is a #10 Daiichi Model 1260, a hook that is replicated by a number of top hook manufacturers.  It's billed as being a '2X long' hook.  The actual length, from front of eye to tip of barb, is just a hair over 3/4" (about 17 mm).  The Stimulator pattern as shown would sit on that hook nicely enough.  

Now, the hook IN the tube is a #14 Tiemco 2488, a short-shank straight-eye hook.  Actual length of this hook is just a hair over 1/4", from front of eye to tip of barb. So the #10 hook is three times as long as the #14 mounted in the tube fly.

This is important because the single most important advantage you gain by fishing a tube fly is lever advantage.  The experience of anglers all over is that long hooks will more easily 'lever out' of a fish's mouth during a fight.  Picture in your mind's eye the last time you watched a fish 'throwing' your streamer hook back in your face. 

Now picture all those images of large leaping rainbows now safe and secure in a net with that tiny little dry/wet/nymph hook stuck tight in the corner of their jaw.  THIS is why so many steelhead and salmon anglers have switched over completely to tubes - they lose fewer fish during the fight.  (dig up the FFM article by Lanny Waller that was published maybe 5-6 years ago and hear it straight from him.)  There are other reasons why tubes are effective (and fun) but this is the biggie.

So my answer to the question 'when would I NOT put a hook fly on a tube' is this:  when I cannot take the lever advantage away from the fish and give it to me by fishing the same size fly with a shorter hook.  That is, if i can't use a shorter hook in the fly by tying the pattern on a tube, then that pattern on a hook is already short enough and it doesn't make sense to put it on a tube.

I will post up some other patterns to illustrate this point in Trout on Tubes, Part 2, later.  In the meantime, here's how I put this Trout Stimulator on the tube:

1.  Tube is an HMH Original Micro Tube, Thick Wall.  Wrap a thread base.  Note that the tube is being held directly by the Spinner Vise or HMH Converter Tool, if you have that.  The pin is inserted in the tube after the fact to serve merely as a stiffener.

2.  Tie in tuft of deer hair for tail.

3.  Trim extra deer hair; tie in body hackle.

4.  one thing about tying smaller patterns on a tube is that tubes have a larger diameter than hook wire, so bodies can get bulky pretty quickly.  My solution for this pattern is to dub the body rather than use chenille.  The image here is to focus attention on wax - not just dubbing wax, but also tying wax.  It's an interesting topic that we'll address soon.  The wax here is a moderately sticky tying wax that also works well for dubbing that I conjured up on the kitchen stove.

5.  I neglected to shoot a couple of images - dubbing up a tight dubbing rope and wrapping it forward, then palmering the body hackle up. Here I've done all that and tied off the body hackle.

6.  Tie in thorax hackle.  Note that I've trimmed the hackle off the top of the body so the deer hair wing will sit down better.

7.  Tie in deer hair wing, then dub thorax...

8.  …and palmer thorax hackle up and tie off.  Wrap a few turns to form a head, then whip finish.

9.   Remove the pin and trim the tube to within about 1/16" from the front of the head.

10.  I then re-insert the pin well back into the tube, and then with my left hand I hold materials back away from the flame that I'm applying with my right hand to melt the tube back to make a nice little button head.  You'll want to rotate the fly a bit to help apply the heat evenly around the tube.

11.   I remove the fly from the vise and trim the back of the tube leaving about 1/16" of tube extending beyond the body.  Finally, I use pliers or hemostats to crush the back end of the tube so its flattened (dorso-ventrally).  This makes the tube wider and enables me to push the little hook eye right up into the tube without using hook holder.

Can't wait to work the boulders and rocks with this one…