Tube flies are not new in the world of anadromous fish. Anglers in Scotland started fishing tube flies around 1945 for Atlantic salmon, the original tube flies were tied on sections of hollowed out turkey quills. In the years since tube flies have come a long way, now most commonly tied on plastic tubes. I started fishing tube flies for steelhead around 2000 and they have continued to be a tying platform for steelhead and salmon.
if you’ve fished with me or come into the shop and asked about my fly selection or for a fly recommendation for winter steelhead, my top two choices will be tube flies. A marabou tube and a rabbit strip tube are my typical go to flies.
I don’t remember my first fish caught with a tube fly but there have been many since. I have caught fish on tube flies in Russia, Sweden, Alaska, British Columbia, and all across the Pacific Northwest. If I’m chasing anadromous fish you can be guaranteed that I will have tube flies in my box.
The marabou tube fly was introduced to me by Mark Bachmann from the Welches Fly Shop. The marabou tube fly is a classic and every box should have them. An unweighted or lightly weighted marabou tube fly is easy casting and will allow you to fish into the soft insides or to obtain a good consistent depth while fishing low gradient gravel bars. If you need to get deeper add a tungsten bead, or barbell eyes.
This tube is lightly dressed with a small ball of dubbing, one marabou feather, a wing or topping of arctic fox, and a few pieces of flash mixed in for some sparkle. I usually tie the fox wing in a contrasting color so it will stand out more. I don’t believe that a big shoulder or some kind of prop is that important, my flies don’t need a big profile. Quite honestly the most popular steelhead lure is a rubber worm and those are about the size of a number 2 pencil. The more material you add, like composite loops and extra prop feathers make the fly hard to cast and slower to sink, and they take a long time to tie. I want a quick tying fly, that I’m not afraid to lose, it needs to be easy to cast, and I need a bunch of them.
If you’re not familiar with tube flies, you’re new to tying, or are looking for a new steelhead fly give this one a shot. I’m sure this will be a winner for you!
Thread: Black Danville 6/0
Tube: 40x40 Pro Flexitube
Cone: Medium Silver Pro Cone
Dubbing: Senyo’s Fusion Dub Smurf
Body: Black Marabou 1 or 2 Feathers
Flash: 4 Strands Purple Krinkle Mirror Flash
Wing: Blue Arctic Fox