How to tie the Sparkle Tube Stillwater Fly

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They’re big and brutal, but when large resident trout migrate down into the depths for winter, a tube fly is exactly what you need to tempt them to take, writes Peter Gathercole.

BACKGROUND

TUBE flies aren’t everyone’s favourite pattern, but they’re certainly effective. What you lose in finesse, you certainly gain in numbers of fish caught and at fry feeding time, they’re often big ones too. They’re the mainstay of rudder fishermen - who scour the depths of reservoirs in search of large, resident trout.

Large browns in particular seem susceptible to this tactic, with many a reservoir’s record brownie falling for a Tube Fly fished on the rudder - drifting point first with the wind, covering vast amounts of water.

Tube Flies originate from salmon fishing and their main advantage is that extra weight can be added and the fly’s length increased without using a longer hook. This is of huge benefit because hooked fish can actually lever longer-shanked hooks out of their mouths. Also, longer hooks have thicker wire, so offering less hooking capability.

The early Tube Flies used treble hooks, which provide better hook ups, but since the onset of catch and release there’s been a move to double or even single hooks.

The tubes are made from light plastic - usually a cotton bud, aluminium or brass. The type of tube material chosen can therefore influence sink rate.

Before fishing, the hook is separate from the fly - but simply thread the leader through the hollow tube and out through the silicone tubing, which connects the hook to the fly, tie on a hook and push the fly to the hook.

Tube Flies have another benefit too, when playing a fish the tube rides away from the hook so the actual fly is well away from damage by trout teeth.

Tubes can be between 3 and 5in long, the length is governed by what size fry the fish are taking and how long a fly you can get away with without spooking the fish.

With so many modern materials around, all kinds of patterns can be crafted and they’re quick to tie too.

Tie one up yourself; there’s a big fry feeder out there just waiting to grab one and it could be your fish of a lifetime.

FISHING TIPS

The recognised method is to strap the oars down and travel downwind, each angler casting out the opposite side of the boat (so that you don’t cast over each other’s head).

The line is then paid out and retrieved when you feel the correct depth has been reached.

Many fish find the arc (the swing) irresistible; the sudden change of direction and speed, as the fly is retrieved, is usually enough to induce them into a take. At the end of the retrieve the rod tip should be lowered, this has the effect of dropping the fly back (just like the hang). Again, this can often induce any following fish into taking your fly.

As soon as a large fish is hooked, the boat should be turned broadside. You do not want to be travelling in the opposite direction to a large fish at speed or the hooks will pull out or you will be broken. Sometimes it’s a good idea to start the engine and get upwind of the fish so you are drifting on to it.

You should look to fish areas that hold numbers of coarse fry for example the Towers at Grafham. Think where the features are on the reservoir such as pipework, drop-offs, deep holes, weedbeds, marker buoys at the sailing clubs and streams entering the reservoir. They will all attract big fish.

Depth, features, speed of retrieve and the size of fly are all important in your pursuit of big fish. As you are able to cover vast amounts of water relatively quickly while presenting your fly at the correct depth, fishing the rudder or oars is often the most effective way of catching large trout. The attractive curve produced in the fly line when fishing in this style is often enough to induce a take when other methods fail. Productive months include May, September and October.

Tube: Any fine stiff plastic tube - the tubes found in

cotton buds work perfectly and are extremely cheap

Thread: White, strong thread

Wing: Silver and gold Angleflash or Flashabou

Hook mount: Silicone tubing

Hook: Size 8 single, double or treble (check with

your fishery to see if they allow trebles)

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1. Fix a large darning needle in the jaws of the vice. Ensure that the needle is the right size to fit snugly in the tube you are using.

2. Slip the tube on to the needle and run the tying thread on at one end creating a solid base for the wing. Adding a half hitch will prevent the thread unravelling.

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3. Take a length of silver Angleflash or Flashabou and catch it in at the eye. The exact length depends on how big you want the finished fly to be.

4. Twist the tube slightly on its needle then add a second wing section in the same way. Here it is formed from gold Angleflash. Add a half hitch to lock the thread.

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5. Continue adding lengths of tinsel until the whole of the tube has been covered. Try to keep all the tips level though they can be trimmed later if needed.

6. With the wing secured in place with tight thread turns, trim off any excess that projects over the front. Build a neat head and cast off with a whip finish.

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7. Remove the tube from the needle mount and add a short section of silicone tube to the rear end. This soft tube holds the hook in place.

8. Insert the hook into the silicone tube and stroke the wing back into position.

VARIANTS

The Friendly Tube

Wobbler Tube Fly

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Rutland warden Paul Friend developed his own Tube Fly designed for rudder fishing. The foam body helps the fly rise and fall through the water levels so covering depth. When pulled, the fly stays on the same level as the sinking line, but when left static the pattern rises up. This up-and-down motion attracts plenty of fish. According to Paul, the foam also makes the fly wobble slightly through the water. Its success rate is tremendous with Paul catching and returning a brown trout estimated between 12 and 14lb from Pitsford in Northamptonshire. Many of his fishing pals, including Rutland’s Senior Warden John Seaton, have also taken big fish with Paul’s pattern.

MATERIALS

Hook: Size 2 Drennan Carbon Specimen

Hook mount: Silicone tubing

Thread: Red

Wing: Silver and gold Angleflash or Flashabou

Tube: Cotton bud tube

Body: Foam

This pattern, contributed by Rob Edmunds, is based on the Tullis Wiggle Bug - a bass fly from the USA and is definitely not one for the purists. Rob claims that it’s very effective for trout, pike and zander at Grafham Water, himself taking pike to 32lb and zander to 8lb with the pattern. It fishes very much like a plug in its action but Rob stresses that on Anglian Water reservoirs you’re not allowed to use treble hooks. He uses one, or possibly two, large singles - one whipped near the head just in case the fish strikes at the eyes.

MATERIALS

Hook: Size 8 single hook (one or two)

Hook mount: Silicone tubing

Thread: White

Wing: Silver and gold Angleflash or Flashabou

Tube: Cotton bud tube

Body and head: Foam