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Variations on  a Theme

Following on from our experiments with Micro Tube Flies which utilise extremely fine stainless steel tubing, in combination with heat shrink tubing and PVC tubing, as the basis for very slim sea trout flies, it might be worthwhile to explore the possibilities of adapting the principle to the use of other materials, with a view to producing tube flies, both for sea trout and salmon fishing, of varying size and weight, and with an acceptably slim profile. An internet search for suitable materials resulted in the purchase of quantities of the following products:

1. PVC tubing in various colours (clear, black, red, blue, yellow and green are available), with a wall thickness of 0.5 mm and an internal diameter of 1.5 mm, wide enough to accommodate the size of single, double and treble hooks commonly used in salmon fishing. This will produce tube flies of 2.5 mm diameter. While not nearly as slim as the 1.1 mm micro tubes referred to above, or the even slimmer Needle Flies, this is comparable in diameter to the type of traditional aluminium tubes produced commercially, and the use of PVC allows us to incorporate a socket at the rear of the tube without the need to add a bulky length of silicone tubing to hold the hook in place. The use of coloured PVC tubing also simplifies the tying, as a body dressing is not essential, keeping the bulk of the fly to a minimum.

Tube Fly Components

Supplier: Tube Fly Tubing

2. Metal or nylon tubing for use as a liner inside the PVC tubing. The use of such a liner provides a firm base on which to dress the fly and, by using liners in different materials - nylon for the lightest of tube flies, through the medium weight aluminium to the heavier brass tube - we are able to vary the weight of our tube flies.

Tube Flies - step 1

It is also possible to vary the balance of the fly by using varying lengths of liner inside the PVC. For example,  the use of a short length of metal tube positioned towards the front end of the tube provides a counterbalance for the hook at the tail, allowing the fly to swim on an even keel. It is also possible to use the liners in various combinations to further vary the balance and weight of the fly, e.g. we might use a short length of brass between two lengths of nylon. Nylon tubing with an outside diameter of around 1.2mm is widely available for use as a liner for traditional aluminium and brass tubes. Metal tubing, in both brass and aluminium, was found with an outside diameter of 1.4 mm, fine enough to be slid into the PVC tubing as a liner. The metal tubing was supplied in twelve inch lengths, allowing it to be cut to any desired length but it should be noted that the cut ends must be carefully deburred before use as a tube fly liner. For cutting and deburring I use an electric rotary cutting and grinding tool similar to that made by Dremmel. It is also necessary to insert a short length of nylon liner, secured with a drop of superglue, at the head of metal lined tubes to shield the nylon leader from the sharp tube ends. supplier:  Speciality Metals

Tube Flies - step 2


3. The integral hook socket at the rear of the PVC tube holds single, double or treble hooks securely. I have used both trebles and doubles (Partridge Big Mouth Doubles) in the accompanying examples.

Assorted Tube Flies


Note: The above experiments preceded the development of Gray's Needle Tubes


The latest developments in tube flies from Grays of Kilsyth

Read about the New Needle Tube Flies, slim stainless steel tubes developed and made in Scotland by Grays of Kilsyth. The new needle tube flies have won international acclaim, recording spectacular catches of Atlantic salmon, steelhead and sea trout .... read more

For the latest micro tube developments see Needle Tube Flies

  more fishing articles






HMH Tube Fly Tool


 Slim stainless steel salmon and sea trout flies



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