Save Your Tube Fly System
by Tony Pagliei
Over the years, several of my tube fly colleagues have asked if I’ve figured out a way to retrieve a tube fly after it’s been hung up in a snag? The answer has been…yeah…no! If you have ever fished a topwater tube fly made of closed cell foam then you know the possibility of retrieving a snagged tube fly is a reality. If the hook breaks free from the popper, the head system (main part of the tube fly) should continue to float in the surface film near the snag area or begin to drift downstream in a current situation. Simply catch the lost tube flyand re-tie!
Unfortunately, this was not the case for subsurface tube fly patterns (anything that sinks below the surface film) when the tube fly is stuck in woody debris or rocky terrain - until now. I can not take the credit for my latest contribution to the tube fly industry. It was inspired by the “god father” of Great Lakes steelhead fishing on the fly. I’m a strong believer in giving credit when credit is due, so hats off to Mr. Ray Schmidt of Schmidt’s Outfitters and his staff in Wellston, Michigan, for planting the seed. Ray and his guide staff have been tying and fishing tubes flies for years on the Big Manistee River in Michigan. The Big Manistee River is full of woody debris, which as we know, holds fish and grabs your tube flies more often than not.
Mr. Schmidt has created a tube fly streamer system that allows the separation of hook and flies when snagged to allow your tube fly to easily be retrieved. The hook is left is the “hang-up” and your tube fly remains on the line. This is due to a micro swivel attached to the main portion of your tippet, which internally catches the tubing of your tube fly streamer. There’s a four pound test difference between the leader to the hook and the main tippet to the swivel.
Well, the old saying “there’s always another way to skin a cat” applies to my new discovery thanks to a world class fly tiers that I have the utmost respect for. My wheels began to spin after seeing this Fearless Tube Fly System! The goal was to try to achieve an easier concealed system that offers a wider range of patterns! The result was a “loop-to-loop” system on an octopus style hook which seats a bit cantered in the hook holding tubing for better hook setting ability and a boat load of popular tube fly patterns to boot.
The Daiichi 2553 size 4 is the perfect size for most of my personal streamer fishing applications! This hook has a red finish (I’m buying into the bleeding hook concept) that’s forged with an off-set beak bend…perfect for “snag-proof” tube fly rigging. I’m following the same rule of thumb (four pound test difference) between the main tippet and the “micro leaders” that Ray has established.
Micro leader…what’s a micro leader? I’m using Maxima leader material to create a miniature looped leaders which is thread wrapped and glued to the octopus hook. Then I created a small loop in the main tippet (mostly using Fluorocarbon leader material) with a single surgeons loop. The two loops are connected and then hidden inside on the main tubing of my tube fly streamers. I leave the tag end of the main tippet loop so it protrudes past the hook when seated in the tubing. This “tag end’ allows the angler to pull the main tippet back out of the retrieved tube fly after the hook breaks away.
Intriguing, isn't it? I fished an olive and white Riverhead Leech (RH2) for 60 plus days without losing the tube fly to a snag or a fish. It was finally removed from my leader system because the tube fly was lacking feathers and fur! These new “fearless” tube flies are going to cause a stir in the tube fly industry in 2010!
I’m currently back in fly fishing retail sales at Grand River Bait and Tackle in Lansing, Michigan, (www.grandriverbaitandtackle.com) and I would love the opportunity to personally demo this new concept with you. Also, I bet if you stop by Schmidt Outfitters in Wellston, MI, that Ray Schmidt will do the same. Being able to fish challenging terrain with the confidence that you will not loose your tube fly gives you the advantage over conventional j-hook streamer anglers! Tie ‘em…try ‘em…you’re going to like the results so much, you'll tell all your friends!
Good Tying - Tony Pags
For more modern tube fly related information from professional tube fly tier Tony Pagliei, please visit www.tubeflyjournal.com!