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Tube Flies for the Warm Water Fly Fisher, Part 2


By Johnny (aka Hillfisher), Texas

Tube Fly Vises and Material

There are vises out there made to tie tube flies, adapters to fit specific vises as well as adapters that fit most brand vises. Renzetti makes a tube fly vice or you can purchase the head alone and adapt it to the Traveler Series Vises. The Renzetti can tie flies up to four inches long. This vise is reasonably priced, more so if you already have the Traveler Vise.

The Nor-Vise System has a Tube Fly attachment that can tie tube flies in a wide range of sizes as well. This is a upper end vise price wise, but like the Renzetti, if you already have the vise, the addition is reasonably priced.

Another tube fly vise from a well-known brand is the Dyna-King Tube Fly Vise 2000. Although it has many great features and looks sharp, again this is an upper end vise and is a single purpose vise as it can only be used to tie tube flies.

Much less expensive and my preference is the adapters that are made to fit all most any vise. These can be found easily on the Internet. Most are less than twenty dollars and work quite well. However there are two styles of mandrels and it is by far best to get the adapters that come with the FULL HEAD Mandrels and not the mandrels that are merely bent at a ninety degree angle. This will be explained in detail later.

When choosing the adapter, also consider the vise it will be used with. The adapters consist of a body which is mounted to the vise just like you would a hook. For this reason, the jaws of the vise must be able to hold the body much like 2/0 hooks or larger.

All tube vises use mandrels that come single or in sets of several sizes, that size being in diameter. However the length of the mandrel is important especially when tying long saltwater flies.

Another thing to consider is the ability of the vise to work with the mandrel. Below you see that the mandrels will not work with my DanVise.

Fortunately I have a second vise that fills the need without any problems.

The reason I previously mentioned about full head mandrels vs. Bent heads is it can make all the difference for a clean whip finish at the head of the fly. As seen in example #1 the bent head will allow the head wraps to slip off if extra care is not taken.

Full head mandrels have a full round head for the tube material to butt up against and will not allow the head wraps to slip off while wrapping as seen in example #2.

Lastly, nails with flat heads, can be used as mandrels, if you can find one that your tube material will fit. The biggest problem is finding one that is long enough if you are tying large salt or striper bass style flies. Straightened out paper clips of various sizes work as bent head mandrels also.

Now let us take a look at tube material. Basically, if it's hollow and can be trimmed, it can be a tube fly. However care must be taken that some material not trimmed properly WILL cut your leader/tippet! Also consider sink rates as well as what effect water will have on the material.

There are materials out on the market specifically made for tube flies; Aluminum, brass, hard plastic and soft plastic. These materials are not expensive and the metal tubes come pre-sized, flared and some with Teflon liners on the inside.

Then there are the common household items, which make great tube flies. For instance; Q-Tips are hard plastic, hollow and different brands have different colored tubes. Just pull off the cotton swabs and presto a two-inch tube body!

My absolute favorite material is soft polyline used in a wide varity of applications. Any manufacturing using low-pressure pneumatics as an energy source will often use this material. Aquarium owners use this stuff all the time for their air pumps. Polyline comes in a large range of colors and, is bought by the foot from rolls.

If you know anyone in manufacturing that uses polyline, there is always unused scrap anywhere from a couple of inches up to a foot.

Finally there are the hooks. The three main types used are spey hooks, treble and egg hooks. Egg hooks for the reason that they have the shortest shank of the single hook family. Partridge makes Tube fly hooks, one type is the "Nordic Single Tube Fly." Spey and treble hooks are for more specific species including Saltwater and for some inland bass such as Stripers. But mostly it's all in the preference of the fly-fisher.

Next week Part 3; "Tying and Rigging the Tube Fly."

Until next time good fishing! ~ Hillfisher

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