Tube Fly History and the Use of Brass Tubes
Brass Tube Fly Bodies
Fly fishing is an old and respected style of fishing, but tying and using tube flies is perceived to be a relatively recent concept. However, this idea is not true. Tube flies have an interesting and far reaching history. "If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday." This quote pertains to many aspects of our life, from our family ancestors down to our hobbies and recreation. Being aware of the hardships and triumphs, struggles and discoveries of the anglers who lived before us, we can appreciate how the modern day tube fly evolved.
The use of tube flies in North American can be traced back as far as the 1800's. The Native American Indians used tube flies to fish the west coast salmon runs. They utilized hollow quills and thin bones as tubing material for their flies. However, the first actual written record of tube flies didn't appear until the 1930's. In Europe, Alexander Wanless, a British angler wrote a book that contains descriptions of tube flies. But the concept did not gain popularity until more than a decade later.
Around 1945, a fly tier for Charles Playfair & Co. reinvented the idea of tube flies using the end of an empty quill pen. Mrs. Winnie Morawski's creation began to gain support in the fly fishing community. A local doctor eventually suggested the use of surgical tubing to replace the quills, which enabled the hook to placed outside the body tube. This discovery began the rapid spread of the tube fly across Europe. Around the same time this great event was taking place, many anglers in North America were developing their own version of the tube fly.
After many years of experimenting and imagination, the new age tube fly finally evolved in the late 1980's. A variety of plastic and metal tubes began to develop along with many other tube fly components. As we all know, you can't have a tube fly without a tube, so this could be argued as the most important part of the tube fly. The style of tube used in a tube fly can influence it's swimming motion and overall success. There are many different choices to consider when deciding on the correct style of tube for your fly; from the material it is made of to its color and shape. There is an overwhelming number of different styles and types of tubes available today. One of the categories that is growing in demand and popularity is the pre-shaped brass tube fly body. It is revolutonizing the fly fishing industry.
The brass tube fly body comes in many different shapes, colors, weights and sizes. A few of the numerous pre-shaped styles to choose from are the ball tube, cone tube, teardrop tube and bottle tube. The large selection of styles offers great verstility in tying tube flies, and it gives the tier an option for more creativity. Knowing what species of fish your tube fly is targeting will help you determine the type of tube fly body you will need. For example, if you are fishing for steelhead that are in deep pools with a hard current you would most likely choose a heavier weighted tube body.
Brass tubes are extremely easy to tie with. Many are grooved for multiple tying points and are shaped to give incredible swimming action. Most tube styles are offered in many different sizes. This option gives the tier flexibility in how large their finished tube fly will be. The large range of color schemes give tiers little reason to cover the tube fly body. Brass tubes allow for endless variations in the art of tube fly tying.
As tube flies continue to grow in popularity the components are becoming easier to find. The Canadian Tube Fly Company offers a variety of brass tubes as pictured to the right. Eumer, Frodin, and Yuri Shumakov Tubes are a few more brands that offer brass tubes as part of their tube fly materials. There are many tube fly patterns available that utilize brass tubes, from very simple to expert level. Check out this simple pattern for a Steelhead Killer Tube Fly that is tied on a brass teardrop tube. The internet offers an endless supply of resources for beginner tiers to become familier with tying on brass tube fly bodies.
Tube flies have been around for over one hundred years. As they continue to evolve, tube fly tiers have options that anglers in the past would never have dreamed about. From animal quills to brass tubes, we can only imagine what the future of tube flies has in store for the modern day anglers.