The Snake Tube Fly

Needle Tubes and Tube Flies

Step by Step tying of a Snake-like Needle Tube Fly

by John Gray

Snake Tube Flies

Below is a step-by-step tying sequence of a snake-like tube fly, intended for sea trout night fishing, but also as a daytime lure for salmon and sea trout. Dressed on an ultra slim stainless steel needle tube, diameter 1.5mm, the Snake tube fly is more easily constructed, and will fish a little deeper, than the conventional snake fly. It is also likely to be more durable, especially if the mylar tubing is omitted, taking full advantage of the slim, shiny stainless steel tube.

The appeal of the conventional snake fly, with its body of braided nylon, monofilament or wire, lies primarily in its slimness and its flexibility. The design allows the creation of slim, light lures of several inches in length, which have proved extremely effective at times in night fishing for sea trout. There is no denying that expertly tied snake flies are very attractive. It seems to me that they are not unlike Falkus's sunk lure, but with the front hook cut off. They also present endless possibilities for those who derive satisfaction from creative fly tying. However, the conventional snake fly requires considerable time and care in its construction and is not the most durable of lures. I am reluctant to spend so much time on a lure which may be lost in a riverside bush or be discarded on account of a broken hook on its first outing. Nor can I see how a braided snake fly, certainly in the shorter lengths of two inches or so, offers any significant advantage over a slim tube fly (the needle tubes shown here, for example, have an outside diameter of only 1.5 mm).

The distinguishing characteristic of the snake fly is the flexibility of the body. I cannot see what advantage this offers over a tube fly. The tube flies illustrated here, or any tube fly which makes use of a short length of silicone tubing as a hook link, have equal flexibility where it matters, i.e. where the hook is connected to the tube. This is the point at which any leverage may be exerted on the hook hold. The silicone hook link on the needle tube fly is extremely soft and supple, resulting in the very minimum of leverage.

Indeed, it might be said that the flexibility of the snake fly's nylon body can be disadvantageous, in that the body, if it does not lie straight, may twist on the leader while fishing and/or casting. It might be argued, of course, that the twisting action of a slim, lightweight, snake fly fished near the surface might prove an irresistible attraction to a sea trout, and this may well be true. I once caught a nice brown trout on a four or five inch length of sandeel tail fished in such a twisting, spinning motion over the surface of the sea pool of a west highland burn. Despite the potential attractions of the snake fly, though, I prefer my flies not to twist and turn on the leader and, when fishing a long lure late at night, I generally try to fish it well below the surface. So, my preference is for a slim tube fly, usually an ultra-slim stainless steel needle tube, which is more durable and more easily dressed. The kind of tube fly shown here offers, I think, a simple and practical alternative to the rather less simple conventional snake fly.


The Snake Tube Fly

The Snake Tube Fly


tube: 40mm long stainless steel needle tube, diameter 1.5mm
body: silver braided mylar tubing
wing: green under black Arctic fox hair, with a few strands of Krystal Flash
hackles: fluorescent yellow


Step 1 - Place needle tube in tube fly vice

The Snake Tube Fly - step 1


Step 2 - Wind a short bed of tying thread at the rear, leaving 5mm clear for the silicone hook link.

The Snake Tube Fly - step 2


Step 3 - Slip a length of braided mylar tubing on to the needle tube, secure and apply two or three coats of varnish to the tying thread.

The Snake Tube Fly - step 3


Step 4 - Apply tension to the mylar tubing so that it lies tight to the needle tube and secure at the head of the needle tube.

The Snake Tube Fly - step 1


Step 5 - Tie in a fluorescent yellow hackle.

The Snake Tube Fly - step 1


Step 6 - Wind three turns of hackle and secure.

The Snake Tube Fly - step 1


Step 7 - Tie in an underwing of green Arctic fox.

The Snake Tube Fly - step 1


Step 8 - Tie in a few strands of olive Krystal Flash.

The Snake Tube Fly - step 1


Step 9 - Tie in a wing of black Arctic fox hair.

The Snake Tube Fly - step 1


Step 10 - Trim surplus hair, form a neat head and varnish.

The Snake Tube Fly - step 1

Book - Sea Trout Nights




A Snake Tube Fly with silicone sleeve and treble hook

The Snake Tube Fly - pink, blue and black


A Black and Blue Snake Tube Fly

The Snake Tube Fly - Black and Blue


Simple Snake

A simplified variant of the above tube fly can be made by omitting the mylar body tubing, with greater durability and little, if any, loss of efficacy, as in the example below

Simple Snake Tube Fly -



For more information on Salmon, Trout and Sea Trout Flies, see Trout and Salmon Flies

 Salmon Spinhead




Grays of Kilsyth

Salmon Flies

Trout Flies

Fly Fishing Knots

Salmon Fishing Scotland

Trout Fishing Scotland

Sea Trout Fishing

Sea Trout Flies

Tube Flies

The Tube Fly Shop


 Slim stainless steel salmon and sea trout flies

HMH Tube Fly Tool








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