Tube flies for steelhead and salmon fishing

Steelhead Tube Flies ROCK!!!!

Zip lock great way to carry big flies.

Well, they are no secret… tube flies are out there and people in the know are using them to fish for steelhead, Atlantic and Pacific salmon, even large trout with lots of success. The boys across the pond have been using them for years. Tying some of the first tube flies on goose quills, and the first plastic tubes on the stripped coating of electrical wire. Even in the Northwest guys have been fishing them for some time now.

Be as creative as you want with your tubes!!!

Now tube flies have become far more mainstream. Both, on the market flies, and the amount of tube fly tying products and accessories have gone through the roof in the last five years. With innovative tiers and progressive companies backing these tiers up, the steelhead anglers of the Northwest can reap the rewards.

Tandem flies are easy and effective.

Why tube flies you say??? For a few reasons, let me explain. The best things about tube flies are usually the reasons you hate some of your solid hook flies. With tube flies you get to pick which ever trailing hook you like. The sky is the limit on hooks but keep in mind you will land more fish on a short-shanked hook than you will on a long-shanked hook. Hooks with long shanks can aid the fish in getting off , the rolling and turning fish will unknowingly use this long piece of metal as leverage to pry the hook free, at least in my experience. Another good reason to use short hooks is the fact that on smaller fish large hooks can cause mortality. Plus if your stinger hook becomes dull just change hooks, no need to try and sharpen. Here are the most popular hooks used:

Spring Sandy fish fell for a deadly tube.

Owner liner hooks size 2-6

TMC 105 sizes 4-8

Gamakatsu Octopus hooks 1-4

Gamakatsu Split Shot/Drop Shot 1-4

Chromer Fell for a “Lady Gaga” tube

There are many other hook options. These are just to get your mind working. Rigging tube flies can be as easy as a simple clinch knot, surgeons knot, or even a blood knot.

The second added bonus to the tube fly is fly size. You can tie much larger flies on tubes than you can on solid hooks. This is mainly because you can get tubing in a variety of lengths and diameters. Which mean you can also tie very small flies on tubes as well. Small flies can be very effective at times and having the ability to place a size proportionate hook to the fly size is a very important feature, in my book.
Tube flies can be massive!
Neutrally buoyant… tubes, until you add weight to them, are very much neutrally buoyant. So they swing across the run in a flat plain not skipping or jumping up and down in the water column. On the other end tubes are more readily able to hold massive amounts of weight, as the comments before you have more room to place the weight, over a larger surface area. Solid hooks sink already, and are limited by the tying space on the hook. Another plus for tube flies.
Color is another thing that tubes offer. The fact that tube can be purchased in wide variety of colors from clear to black. This can be beneficial for a couple of reasons. You can use the color of the tube to rib the fly, or the tube can become the body color. It will really help if you want a sparse or light fly, because you don’t have to add more material. Try to find a pink steelhead iron… colors can be fun.
Nick Rowell skater sweet!

Last and one of my favorite benefits of tubes is you can tie skated flies that will never sink! That’s right hitched tubes are awesome. Unsinkable with the leader coming into the side of the tube the harder the river pulls against the tube the better and higher it skates. I love fishing skated flies and with the hook angled down toward the fish as the Steelhead comes to the fly. You seem to hook more fish on the skated tube than the traditional waked flies.

Great movement in this tube!
Now I will give you a list of on the market tube flies to go check out. Don’t be afraid to give this type of fly a try most guys are switching over right now and even if you don’t want to tie your own you can buy some of these:
Lots of my Favorites!
Un-weighted marabou tubes (various colors)
Lady Gaga Intruders
Tandem tubes
Tube snakes
Spot on Prawn
Sticky sculpin
Black, blue light specials
My buddy Bruce with a coastal fish that fell for a tube fly.

If you do tie your own flies then use these as a muse to help you get creative. You might also want to check out the Protube and Guideline websites or even Fly Fish USA for some ideas and the available tube components. Even tying old classic on tube can be done and makes tying fun and new again.

1 reply
    BLUEANGLER says:

    Great post!bro

    I love tube flies too!! my tying road have gone through HMH to Eumar and now Protube. Still use HMH occasionally, but the protube are just a bit higher quality and much easy to adjust…

    I agree 100% about the reasons you mentioned! The other good thing about tube flies is you can “grow” your own flies on the streamside… now I only tie “half” instruder. I adjust the size on the streamside 2, 3 section tendem together and you will have a state of art “broke back repala”! HA….


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