Fishing for Tarpon from a float tube…
Nuts, maybe, but we approve of this! Next summer we’re thinking of going out for Salmon sharks in ours… Let’s dangle our legs in the water around something thata can bite back!!
A simple to tie strong knot for tippet to hook eye connections. Try it! You’ll Like iT!
For most Alaskan fly fishers spring brings melting snow and thoughts summer fishing, with (hopefully) sunshine and green things growing everywhere. But some of us have discovered we can have frys with our spring.
Salmon eggs laid last fall have been hatching under the ice, slowly developing into alevins (yoke sac fry). As ice pulls away from the spawning beds, the alevin, having used up their yoke sac, become fry. New fry swim to the surface, gulp some air to fill their air bladder, and begin free swimming and feeding. It’s at this point in their young lives that fry become available to all the other fish that have been on minimum rations through winter.
The Tubular Smolt came from my desire to have a fly that imitated the young fish I grew up seeing in the shallows of lakes. In my younger days we had small Flatfish and Rapalas for our ultra-light spinning rods. Once I started fly fishing I missed that basic minnow shape, and the desire to imitate it never really left the part of my brain that fishes. When I began learning more about bait fish, I kept thinking that there had to be a way to create a pattern that would mimic the head down attitude of a crippled fish. I also reasoned that a pattern that floated head down could be twitched back to horizontal creating an impression of struggling to stay alive. I wasn’t so concerned about movement, there are plenty of flies for that, I was mostly focused on size, color, and shape.
Although I had played with a few different patterns over the years, it was the thermometer probe cover that finally got my creative juices flowing. Here was the shell for an underbody. I knew I wanted to use Mylar tubing as an outer cover; all I had to do is figure out a way to get this long, thin walled tube onto a hook. After a few failed attempts at prototypes I became frustrated in that I just could not come up with a way to create a solid enough union to a hook to tie materials onto and over the tube. So the probe covers sat in my material box for almost a year. Then, while looking at some tube fly materials, I noticed cone heads designed for small tubes. “Tube flies” I thought, (mentally smacking myself on the side of the head) that’s the answer! I had toyed tying tube flies in the past, but being a bit of a traditionalist, I had failed to think past the shanked hook school of design when working on this baitfish imitation.
It took three attempts to create a tube fly that suspended head down, looked like a small fish, and did not have the disadvantage of an extra-long hook shank. The material sizes listed in the instructional PDF are based on getting the fly to suspend with neutral density. I’ve since subsisted foam for the head, for a high floating fly, and I’ve been stuffing the front part of the probe cover with fluorescent glo-bug yarn and/or Everglow fibers. You can alter the length of the body to create a shorter or longer baitfish and color the body to match any local baitfish. It is important that the body (Mylar tubing) be sealed. I’ve used regular epoxy, rod wrapping epoxy, and am currently playing with a couple different UV cured coatings. All seem to have their pros and cons. I use nail polish, especially ones with sparkle, to add color and extra bling to the body. Once you have the basic pattern, variations are endless.
The pattern’s name come from the fact that I now fish areas where salmon smolts are a prime baitfish; and the fly has proven itself on a couple of different river fisheries for rainbows. The interesting point is that I’ve yet to get the chance to fish one in a lake, where the process started years ago. But then, life is still young!
For a PDF of the Tying Instructions for this pattern, go to our Patterns page.
If you have questions or other comments, please feel free to post them here or email me at Rich@2GuysFlyFishing.net.
Our friend and fishing buddy Greg Heister just posted a new segment of his show Seasons On The Fly about fishing the Naknek with guide Nancy Morris Lyon. Beautiful photography, great river and BIG RAINBOWS!! Check it out and see if you agree. This segment is only available on Facebook. But if you want to see more of Greg’s work go to his website - Seasons On The Fly – where you can watch full episodes of the show. Or you can catch him on cable on the NBC Sports Outdoors channel (formerly Versus) Saturday morning and Monday afternoon. Fire up those DVRs!
Added a couple of new links to my January Link list. Flymage Magazine (blow it up full-screen for best viewing) is another online FREE fly fishing photography magazine of EXCELLENT quality. Check it out – this month they have a great article on the Pebble Mine controversy. Excellent reading and great photos. They also have a blog – Flymage Magazine – Fly Fishing and Photography. Another great resource. Take a look at some of the fly patterns presented there. I’ve got some new stuff to try this summer… Oh, and if it should be that you’d prefer this mag in Spanish, they can accommodate. There’s a Spanish version online as well as the English. Enjoy!
Next Saturday!!! Don’t Miss It!!!
For those of you attending my Tube Tying Class at the February 18th Tying Clinic sponsored by the Alaska Fly Fishers, I have created a page that lists some of the basic tubes and tools available both locally here in Anchorage, and through the web.
Download the pdf at: Tube Flies – Materials and Sources
Tube flies are just starting to make some inroads into the American fly tying culture, and although they are not a total solution, tube flies have several advantages over traditional hooks in some specific applications. In my opinion, it’s always a good idea to have a couple of different tricks up your sleeve, especially when you are targeting our larger salmon (Kings and Silvers), or those beefy rainbows and char that Alaska is known for.
Long shanked hooks, necessary when creating large bulky patterns, have the disadvantage of creating a lot of leverage once the hook is in the fish’s mouth. The current trend of using stinger hooks is one way of addressing this problem. Truth be told, using a stinger loop off the back of any fly pattern is a great solution to the problem of shank leverage.
However, in some cases stinger loops may not be the most practical solution. Tube flies were based on the concept of keeping the fly away from the fish’s sharp teeth after the hook set. The fly body is designed to disconnect and slide up the leader, allowing the angler to play the fish on a short shanked hook tied directly to the leader. This offers the advantage of not having your fly in shreds after one or two fish.
An additional advantage is that the hook doesn’t have a chance to hinge over during casting and hook itself onto your leader, or in some cases the fly body itself. Using junction tubes, you can control the distance behind the body that the hook is riding; which can be important when the fish are short striking, or nipping at the rear of the fly. The junction tube is flexible, but not enough so that it will hinge back on itself like most stinger loops.
Or, as in the case of most of my fishing with tube flies; I just let the fly slide down to the hook knot. I find that a junction tube isn’t necessary most of the time. Without a junction tube the fly will have a tendency to spin on your leader, something that I hope the fish fish find as tantalizing as I do. (I am a fan of the “If it moves, it’s alive and food.” school of thought.)
Whether you get into tube flies big time or just for a couple of specific uses; spend some time getting familiar with this style of tying.
Here’s a sample of a tube specific pattern that is working very well for our meat eating rainbows. The Tubular Smolt will be featured in a new fly pattern book from the Alaska Fly Fishers, most likely to be published later in 2012.
“Any day on the water is a GREAT day”
Song from www.fishingmusic.com.
Ben Winship & David Thompson wrote this piece for their album Fishing Music II. It’s a great album with a pretty wide range of music. This one is hilarious! Give it a listen and head over to their store at http://store.benwinship.com/ to buy a copy of this one and their first – Fishing Music. Very good stuff!