The Simple Tube Fly

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The Simple Tube Fly
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The Simple Tube Fly

Tube Flies have gained popularity for many kinds of game fish.  In the last ten years, this type of fly has become extremely popular for winter steelhead, especially in our local area.  Originally adopted so that a smaller hook could be used with a large fly to cut injury to wild steelhead, this configuration also proved itself as a way to land a higher percentage of fish as well. The tube fly configuration has proven to be extremely versatile as hooks can be changed at will, and several tubes can

be strung on the same leader to increase the size or the color combinations of any fly. With a tradition that fishing deeper is always better, it was surprising to learn that the most productive flies are often tied on lightweight plastic tubes.  This is because they move more freely in the currents which results in a a lot of seductive action.  Also inherent with in the popularity of lightweight flies is the increased efficiency of modern sinking tip spey lines.  You no longer have to have a heavy fly to fish deep.  As a mater of fact the lightweight fly concept fishes more snag free and lets the angler fish more efficiently. In order to construct a light weight fly that moves around a lot in the water, it is best to employ lightweight materials in its construction. If these material retain their bulk when wet, they will make the fly even more buoyant, thus increasing the movement of the fly even more. By varying the loft of the materials use to construct the fly, the flies' resistance to the current flow can be fine tuned.  Materials with long soft strands gives the most movement.  In this realm nothing provides more movement than marabou, especially when combined with supporting

materials. Marabou plays an integral part in both the looks and usefulness of the fly patterns listed on this page.  Marabou is turkey underwear.  When wrapped on a hook or a tube and submerged in flowing water, marabou has the ability to move and impart life like no other known material.  Marabou comes in several configurations.  There is Marabou with short stiff stems and short, fluffy fibers.  This kind of marabou works great for wooly bugger tails, but doesn't work very good for the flies listed on this page. The kind that works best has long fibers and
Schlappen are the giant hackles that flow from the base of the saddle and along side of the tail of a rooster.  They are opaque and the fibers are water absorbent and webby but much stiffer than turkey
marabou. The best schlappens for tying steelhead tube flies have a fine stem and have a good portion of marabou like fluff at the base.  When the fly is submerged and fully saturated with water this fluff  fills in the shape of the fly and transitions the water flow from the stiffer hackle-like fibers in the front of the fly to the soft marabou at the rear of the fly.   The stiffer schlappen deflects the water flow, and allows the marabou to open-up in the current and move freely.  
Tubes for tying tube flies can be made from brass, copper or plastic.  Soft plastic tubes can accommodate the eye of a small short shank hook.  This configuration hooks fish quickly, yet decreases the injury that sometimes occurs using larger hooks. Brass and copper tubes add weight to the fly and come in differing wall thicknesses for different amounts of weight.  A liner tube is recommended for all metal tubes to decrease leader abrasion. A short piece of soft flexible tubing is added to the rear of each metal tube to hold the hook in place while fishing.
This drawing displays the colors of the Red Rocket Tube Fly and is meant to give the tier a sense of how the materials interact with each other.  As you can see all of the materials are tied in near the front of the tube.  First an orange marabou feather is wound on as a hackle starting about 1/2" from the front of the tube.  Then four strands of gold Flashabou are tied in the middle and the eight ends are distributed around the tube so that the strands radiate outward and lay on top of the orange marabou.  Next a red marabou feathers is wound on as a hackle.  Then a red schlappen feather is wound on as
a hackle.  Be sure to include some of the fluff from the base of the schlappen.  Before you apply cement to the head of the fly, take a brush or comb to the fly and make sure that all of the feather fibers are separated from each other. Tube Fly Parts can be found HERE.

The Simple Tube Fly 
Winter steelhead are usually found near the bottom and they tend to congregate where large structure gives them cover. In fact, when given the chance they even like to hide under things like logs and overhanging vegetation. One of the best things about marabou tube flies constructed on soft plastic tubes, is that they are fast and simple to tie. I have often thought that catching steelhead gets easier if you eliminate all emotional attachment to your fly. That is, if you

are worried about losing your fly, you are less prone to fish it in places where there risk of "snagging-up".  Using flies that you can tie in volume from cheap materials can give you a distinct advantage.

Pattern: Red Rocket Simple Tube
Tube: 1.5" Soft plastic tube
Hook: #4 TMC 105
Tying Cement: Anglers Corner Water Base Head Cement
Thread: Flame 210 Denier Flat Waxed
Tail: none
Rear Collar Hackle: orange marabou
Flash: Gold Flashabou, four strands each side
Mid Collar Hackle: Bright Red marabou
Front Colar Hackle: Bright Red schlappen
Head Cement: Anglers Corner Water Base Head Cement

The recipe at left is for the Red Rocket pattern which has been extremely effective, especially during bright light periods.  Simple Tube flies are tied in every color combination imaginable. The four most popular color combinations are listed below. These patterns have accounted for many many fish to the hand and will remain very productive in the future.

Set up up your tube fly vise.  Shown here is the famous HMH Premium Tube Fly Tool clamped in the jaws of a Renzetti Master Vise. The HMH Premium Tube Fly Tools features a machined, tapered mandrel which holds the soft plastic tube very securely.  Soft plastic tubes have a lip on the front end to keep materials from spilling off the front of the fly.  Place this lip against the head of the mandrel.  Secure the rear of the tube under the chisel edge of the tool.  This will keep the tube from turning on the mandrel.

With the mandrel of the tool aligned perfectly on the rotary vice, the tube can be turned on axis for either conventional, or true rotary tying.  Start your thread 1/8" behind the lip of the tube and wrap back as in tying any conventional fly.

Trim off the tag end of the thread.

 Extend the foundation of the fly another 1/2".

Tie in a large, fine stem orange marabou plume by the butt of the feather.

Grasp the tip of the feather with a hackle pliers. Rubber tipped hackle pliers work best as the fine stem of the marabou plume may be fragile.

Wrap the marabou plume forward using as much of the feather as possible. Tie it off and break off the remaining tip (or leave it in the fly).

 Tie in four complete strands of gold Flashabou. Tie these strands in the middle and pull them back on each side of the fly so you now have eight strands.

Gather these strands of Flashabou and pull them back and trim them just slightly longer than the marabou.

 Now you will have just the right amount of Flashabou to move freely when wet.

Tie in a bright red marabou plume.

Grasp the tip with your hackle pliers.

Wrap it forward and trim of the tip. The two colors, with the orange marabou inside the red accents the movement of the feather fibers giving the fly a shimmering effect.

Tie in a large bright red schlappen feather. Use as much of the feather as possible to build bulk, if you want the fly to remain large in the water.  This schlappen feather alters the flow and  allows the fly to assumes the hydrodynamic shape of a squid.

 Wrap the schlappen forward, tie it off and trim off the tip.  Finish the fly off with a smooth head and add head cement.
It is possible that no one invents any fly pattern. The Red Rocket was inspired by Ed Ward's Big Red bunny leech. Then later it was found out that George Cook had tied a very similar pattern in his Alaskabou series, called the Volcano, which in turn is very similar to a Canadian Atlantic Salmon fly called the Cardinal.

Popular Simple Tube Fly Patterns
These are the four most popular Simple Tube Fly patterns.
Red Rocket
TUBE: 1 1/2" long, 1/-16"inside diameter plastic or brass
THREAD: fluo. orange flat waxed
REAR HACKLE: hot orange marabou
FLASH: gold flashabou
FRONT HACKLE: red marabou
FRONT HACKLE: red schlappen
HEAD: fluo. orange
Sandy Blue
TUBE: 1 1/2" long, 1/-16"inside diameter plastic or brass
THREAD: fluo. blue flat waxed
REAR HACKLE: black marabou
FLASH: rainbow flashabou
MIDDLE HACKLE: black marabou
FRONT HACKLE: blue schlappen
HEAD: blue

This is a favored pattern 
Purple & Pink
TUBE: 1 1/2" long, 1/-16"inside diameter plastic or brass
THREAD: fluo. pink flat waxed
REAR HACKLE: purple marabou
FLASH: purple flashabou
MIDDLE HACKLE: purple marabou
FRONT HACKLE: fluo. pink schlappen
HEAD: fluo. pink
Sandy Candy
TUBE: 1 1/2" long, 1/-16"inside diameter plastic or brass
THREAD: fluo. pink flat waxed
REAR HACKLE: shrimp pink marabou
FLASH: gold flashabou
FRONT HACKLE: shrimp pink marabou
FRONT HACKLE: pink & orange schlappen mixed
HEAD: fluo. pink

Large Turkey Marabou, Strung, dyed over white, 4", 1/4 oz.
This buck steelhead ate a 5" long marabou fly tied on a Waddington shank...

Marabou is turkey underwear.  When wrapped on a hook or a tube and submerged in flowing water, marabou has the ability to move and impart life like no other known material.  Marabou comes in several configurations in each package.  There is Marabou with short stiff stems and short, fluffy fibers.  This kind of marabou works great for Leeches and Wooly Buggers or or any application where the plumage doesn't need to be wrapped around a hook.  There is also the kind that has long fibers and fine stems. This kind of marabou works best for Alaskabous, Marabou Speys and Marabou Tube Flies.  Fine stemmed marabou can be wound on the tube or hook like a hackle.  Most good plumes have a stem long enough for about 6-8 wraps on a hook or four wraps around a tube.  In every case this is the finest marabou we have seen.

Item Description Color Price To Top
MSM 001 Strung Marabou, Black   $2.45

MSM 003 Strung Marabou, Dark Brown   $2.45

MSM 006 Strung Marabou, Light Rust   $2.45

MSM 031 Strung Marabou, Dark Olive   $2.45

MSM 034 Strung Marabou, Damsel Olive   $2.45

MSM 052 Strung Marabou, Medium Dun   $2.45

MSM 075 Strung Marabou, Lemon Yellow   $2.45

MSM 080 Strung Marabou, Fluorescent Bubble Gum   $2.45

MSM 084 Strung Marabou, Ginger   $2.45

MSM 091 Strung Marabou, Purple   $2.45

MSM 092 Strung Marabou, Maroon   $2.45

MSM 096 Strung Marabou, Kingfisher Blue   $2.45

MSM 101 Strung Marabou, Lavender   $2.45

MSM 121 Strung Marabou, Fluorescent Flame Red   $2.45

MSM 122 Strung Marabou, Hot Red   $2.45

MSM 125 Strung Marabou, Fluorescent Chartreuse   $2.45

MSM 130 Strung Marabou, Fluorescent White   $2.45

MSM 131 Strung Marabou, Fluorescent Orange   $2.45

MSM 135 Strung Marabou, Fluorescent Shrimp Pink   $2.45

MSM 141 Strung Marabou, Royal Blue   $2.45

MSM 150 Strung Marabou, Hot Pink   $2.45

MSM 151 Strung Marabou, Cerise   $2.45

MSM 221 Strung Marabou, Fluorescent Light Flame   $2.45

MSM 296 Strung Marabou, Fluorescent Blue   $2.45

MSM 910 Strung Marabou, Light Orange   $2.45


Thank You!
The weather is turning cold; frost is really in the air. Even had just a spot of snow at the store the other day. Thanksgiving is like the October Caddis hatch.. Gone. There are still a few husks lying about, and even those remnants will soon disappear. We are moving quickly towards Christmas.
Steelhead are starting to show. Shouldn't be long before we start seeing that wild-eyed species in our local area.. The Winter Steelheader. Seems like they only show up when the weather is not fit for man or beast. I think the steelhead bring them out. These are people who won't put up the Christmas lights because it's raining (or it's not, for that matter), but they are out there, rod in hand. Pretty good group though.
     I would like to say, again, thanks to all of you. For shopping here, of course, but much more.
     For sending pictures from all over the world and letting me share in your adventures.
     For inviting me to come fish, well, everywhere. I went to Mexico last year with friends and I am headed to Ireland next year. Because I work here, and you shop here.  Many of you are counted as friends because we have made a connection through fly-fishing. Perhaps we should make fishing a worldwide requirement? It's a thought though.
     Thanks for talking to me, on the phone and in person. For asking my opinion, soliciting my advice and using it to decide on what to buy, or where to go, what to try when you get there. What line to use, are egg patterns actually fly fishing, and is that new rod really better? Whatever.
Any time that you have asked my opinion, and then at least considered it, makes me feel good.
     Thanks for sharing your fishing tips with me. It has made me a better fisher person.  The collective knowledge is priceless.
     Thanks for teaching me to cast a fly rod better. Yes. Believe it. Every time I get the chance to help someone cast a fly rod, it makes me better. If you think that I can cast, it was many of you that helped.
     For those of you that call and email from other parts of the world (here and abroad) and are willing to spend your hard earned dollars, as much as a few thousand and as few as three, based on my opinion of things that you have not seen or touched, thank you. Trust is a fragile thing, and I do not always remember to tell you how much I prize that very thing you give.
     For those few of you that were able to fish with me (I am trying to get to all of you, but it's taking longer than I thought), Thank you. Time has always been a valuable thing and I really appreciate the time that you have spent with me.
    To the fly fishers all over the world that have, in a sense, cast a line to me, Thank You.
Have a good holiday.
   John Morgan Jones

Speaking Engagements

January 9, 2008 - Tualatin Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited General Meeting

A PowerPoint Presentation "Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing" by Mark Bachmann. How-to/where-to fly fishing adventure with lots of pictures of fish and commentary from an angler who has caught winter steelhead with flies for the past 40-years.
The meeting starts at 6:30 with 30 minutes of social time.  Meeting is upstairs at the Lucky Labrador Public House, and they serve pretty damn good beer and pizza.  Many members come early to eat and socialize.  The formal

meeting starts at 7pm with about 20 minutes of announcements and club business.
Lucky Labrador Public House (NOT to be confused with the Lucky Lab Brew Pub in SE Portland) is located at 7675 SW Capitol Hwy in the SW Portland community of Multnomah Village. 
PH: 503-244-2537  or for more information about the meeting, call Hank: 503-228-6553.
This event is free and open to the public.

January 21, 2008 - Clackamas Fly Fishers General Meeting

A PowerPoint Presentation "Summer Steelhead Fly Fishing" by Mark Bachmann. How & where-to catch summer steelhead from our local rivers such as the Sandy & Clackamas. Showcases the Deschutes River where the narrator camped 10 out of every 14 days last summer from August 1 through November 1.
The meeting is Tuesday the 22nd of Jan at 7pm at High Rocks Pub in Clackamas. Most people start showing up around 6:00 for dinner.

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Fish long & prosper,
Mark & Patty

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