Swedish version

How to have your cake and eat it.
By Jurij Shumakov

B&R Long Range Prototype
B&R Long Range Prototype

When I started tying heavy Halfinchers some 6-7 years ago, all I could find on the market were Veniard copper tubes and quite ugly thick brass tubes, of unknown origin. The flies tied on those tubes were far from perfect, with heads that looked "ill and inflamed" and with naked bodies.
As long as this type of fly only interested Scandinavian anglers, progress was very slow. But then the success of the Templedog flies fuelled interest in the Swedish innovative type. The first real breakthrough, however, came when Mörrum type tubes appeared on the market, produced by Danish "The Fly Co". And, almost simultaneously, the first models of bottlenecked LOOP tubes showed up.

Personally, I developed a preference for the Mörrum tubes because they were functional and offered flexibility in tying. Moreover, they allowed me to tie very small and compact heads, keeping the world-famous silhouette of Scandinavian long-winged flies. Eventually, both firms have improved their tubes and now offer quite a wide selection, including summer light varieties, but "The Fly Co" has made an additional step forwards by adding coloured tubes and aluminium versions.

Brown Swedish Bullet
Brown Swedish Bullet

My interest in heavy Halfinchers increased when they helped me on one of my trips to the Kola Peninsula - their presence in my fly-box let me catch fish when all others failed. But, despite the fact that nowadays there are plenty of different tubes you can buy, I had the feeling that I needed to find something to suit my imagination and match my own ideas about shape and balance.

When I looked closely at flies tied on short commercial tubes, I had noticed that in a moderate current, the hook hangs down. Not much, but still. This can be partly prevented by adding compact back hackle at the rear end of the tube. On Mörrum tubes this can easily be done on the plastic insert before you place the metal body. The hackle helps to hold the rear part of the body up, because it works a bit like the horizontal underwater wing on high-speed sea-craft.

Black Skittle Prototype
Black Skittle Prototype

Another way to minimize the tendency of the hook to hang down is to use thick and stiff monofilament, which won’t be bent by the weight of tube and hook. Commonly used tippet material for the spring fishing on Mörrum are around 0.40-0.50, because salmon can be really huge and it is well known how sharp the stones can be. This thick monofilament can be used as well for the evening and night fishing for sea-trout. But with early summer fishing, things get a bit complicated, because it is not a healthy idea to fish small summer tube flies on tippet 0.45. Moreover, on some rivers with very clear water and big fishing press it can affect the catch too.

I simply couldn't understand why the centre of balance should be towards the rear end of the body, like on Mörrum tubes or bottlenecked LOOP! Now it is true that a small and compact metal tube attached to relatively stiff hair, like bear for instance, will not lean that much. On the other hand, if you use polar fox fur, or the newly discovered Caucasian silver goat hair, it definitely does, and that is a nuisance!

Orange Long Range Prototype
Orange Long Range Prototype

Stiff furs, like bear or badger, are mostly used as under wing on big flies for spring fishing. So what should I do if I wanted to tie the "summer" Halfincher with quite a distinct light wing? Conehead tube-flies are intended to move in water like Put & Take flies, and on small flies the silhouette is not really proportional.

Summer tubes from "The Fly Co" have bigger diameter of the hole at the rear part of the tube compared to the front entrance. It makes more sense to see that big hole to improve the balance, than to use the tube as it was anticipated, to set in the tubing and a knot. The knot on the eye of the hook can be easily removed close to the beginning of the hook shank, so you can save a couple of mm space between hook and tube. To set silicone tubing inside the metal body is a real "pain in the…", however. All previous recommendations of LOOP don’t work because silicone cannot be glued firmly, even using Super glue. Moreover, it is impossible to set hook eye bigger than size 10 in the tube while tying knot on tippet 0.35. Well, you might object that summer fishing requires thinner line and smaller hooks, but we are all different and may prefer "secure" stuff. Maybe that’s why LOOP stopped producing these tubes and started with another shape of rear part?

Summer Arrow B 52 Protoype
Summer Arrow B 52 Protoype

The most suitable tubes I found with respect to the connection between body of fly and hook were Mörrum tubes of the first generation and tubes of the brand "Unique", which had just arrived on the market. Unfortunately, "Unique" tubes are disfigured by a big unpleasant "pig-nose" rim at the front of body. The rim is intended to help tying and prevent binding thread from being lost at the head of the fly. In fact, it is just an unnecessary and useless addition. A small rim can be easily built on plastic insert using the flame of a lighter, and that is quite sufficient.

When I use "Unique" tubes I remove the metal rim, and tie on plastic insert exactly as on Mörrum tubes. For those who want to start on metal body anyway, I would recommend to glue metal body to the plastic insert with Super glue. Tie wing partly on metal body, and finish fly with accurate head on plastic insert. When you have secured the last bunch of fur for the wing, take tube out of the holder, cut excess plastic, leaving approximately 1 mm. Insert a suitable needle in the front entrance, prevent all front element from getting in the way by holding them back with your fingers, light the lighter and carefully expose the end of plastic tube to the flame, slightly rotating the tube in your fingers. Your small, accurate and perfect rim is ready! Set fly back to holder and complete the head. (Fortunately, all of this is more difficult to describe than to do!)

Nevertheless, in spite of all the solutions I had found, I kept getting back to my initial reaction: why create imbalance in the first place?

I spent a few months pondering over these problems, until one day last autumn I went to the open air fruit market. The kids wanted pears. Pears? I stood in front of a big pyramid of pears holding one of them in my hands, and couldn't get rid of the feeling that this was something I needed, but for what? Well, you could say that fly-tiers are sometimes almost like idiots, thinking 24 hours a day only about their flies! There at the market, the bright image of a shape for my tube finally emerged.

I sat glued to my computer a few nights drawing blueprints, playing with shapes and different solutions for the "tube of my dreams". All possible and available tubes were lying there in front of me. Ideas came to my mind, one by one. Some helped me improve existing tubes, some presented me with an entirely new use for well-known elements, yet others pushed me on to unexplored territories.

Three shapes finally came to the virtual reality of my computer. So what about the reality outside of my Windows? Internet is a funny thing in some ways. The more net friends you have, the more annoyed your wife gets - but that's the price you pay when you want to bring virtuality into reality. I sent a message with proposals to one of my net friends from Ukraine who, together with another "hooked" man, runs a small company called 'Megoff" (www.megoff.com), specializing in new concept fly-reels and vices. By the way, it is the only company which has managed to make functional fly-reel with a ball bearing weighing just 62 g. It is the smallest reel on the market (only Hardy has a regular "birdy" of about 75 g, but without ball bearing). The Megoff reel is specially designed for those minimalists who want to have unique fly-reels and catch big fish on toothpicks. So, as you might have guessed, my Ukrainian net friend accepted the challenge.

Just a couple of months later I could hold the first prototypes in my hands. I worked hard both on fly image and tube design.   The result is three different body shapes in two weight versions, each made from brass and one in aluminium.

Skittle Tube Fly tubes, Bronze
Skittle Tube Fly tubes, Bronze, 5 mm Ø, 13 mm long
The two tubes at the right are dyed by hand

The "Skittle" brass tube is the one with the best balance among all heavy tubes. It has enough weight at the front end to push the fly down and hold it firmly in the current. The rear part is thin, and not that different from the so-called "US tubes" of "The Fly Co". Front cone helps to hold fur up and mount wing at the best angle. Hair of wing stays far from the hook, so it helps prevent tangling. One variant has grooves on the rear part of the thickening, which can be dyed.

 Long Range Tube Fly tubes, Aluminum
Long Range Tube Fly tubes, Aluminum, 4 mm Ø, 13 mm long
The four tubes at the right are dyed by hand

Long Range Tube Fly tubes, Aluminum
Long Range Tube Fly tubes, Aluminum, 5 mm Ø, 13 mm long
The four tubes at the right are dyed by hand

 Long Range Tube Fly tubes, Bronze
Long Range Tube Fly tubes, Bronze,  4 mm Ø, 13 mm long
The four tubes at the right are dyed by hand

Long Range Tube Fly tubes, Bronze
Long Range Tube Fly tubes, Bronze, 5 mm Ø, 13 mm long
The four tubes at the right are dyed by hand

The "Long Range" brass tube was conceived to reach the deepest lies. To make the rear part lighter, the body has been cut in four places. At the same time, if these grooves are dyed with a different colour (I tried red and black), the body doesn't look as naked as on other brands. The friend who was the first to see this creation exclaimed in amazement: "It certainly is a fly, but it looks like Mepps!" Well, who said that spinners don't catch salmon? We just adopted some good ideas for our toys!

The "Summer arrow" brass tubes are in fact a "conehead mutant". Long ago, I used to tie summer flies using small coneheads behind and under the wing, but the hollow inner surface of the conehead makes that rather inconvenient. The idea behind the Arrow is to tie light summer tubes without using coneheads. The 4 mm Arrow is light as LOOP's summer bottlenecked brass tubes, and doesn't have unnecessary details like a metal neck or complicated tubing holder at the rear part of the tube. The front cone has the same advantages as for Skittle tubes. The Summer arrow can be used in the "Body interchangeable set for tube flies"

."Summer Arrow" Tube Fly tubes, Bronze   "Summer Arrow" Tube Fly tubes, Bronze
"Summer Arrow" Tube Fly tubes, Bronze
Right: 5 mm Ø, 13 mm long
Left: 4 mm Ø, 13 mm long

The size rear part for hook holding permits use both with thin and thick silicone tubing.

Keep well, keep tying and hope some day you'll see a glimpse of understanding in the eyes of your relatives...

Jurij Shumakov 2002 ©


All Tube Fly tubes presented in this article are designed by Jurij Shumakov and manufactured by Megoff Engineering
The stripe coloured ones are hand colored by the auther himself.




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