Swedish version


Interchangeable Body Tube System

Happy mistake
(Lets make things easier and...cheaper!)
By Jurij Shumakov

  As so often happens, a new idea appears absolutely suddenly. It can just pop out of nowhere, like the devil from the tobacco box, and with no apparent reason. One of my net correspondents tried to tie tube-fly using Mörrum tubes in an untraditional sequence. And what could have been a mistake turns out to be the creation of an Interchangeable Body Tube System (or if you prefer, 'I-Bits'), which opens quite a wide range of options allowing you to vary the weight and colour of fly body.

When you tie tube-fly using The Fly Co. tubes in the "traditional" way, you end up with a single fly, a fixed body size, weight and combination of colours in wing and body. If, for instance, I simply want to combine only 5 different colour schemes with 4 different wing lengths, say 3.0-3.5, 5.0-5.5, 7.0-8.0 and 10-12 cm, I will be forced to buy 20 sets of metal body parts and plastic tubes.

Now if, in addition, I want 5 different colours of metal tubes for each of the preceding colour combinations and wing lengths, it brings the total amount of flies to 100. Today, the market offers US and Low water type short cylinder tubes in many sorts of colours. Knowing the importance of body weight, I might like to vary the weight of my flies, which would force me to tie at least 500 flies. Then please consider that the normal fly-fisherman never goes fishing with only one fly - as a successful fly can get lost with a fish, hung on a tree or sadly dragged to the bottom - but generally carries at least two flies of each type in his fly-box. It looks like I would be forced to buy off half the stock of materials at the nearest fly-fishing shop, and need to spend my winter evenings tying something like 1000 flies!!! I am not sure that even professional tiers could afford this...

A fresh runner from Pana river taken on Black Rainbow IBS fly
A fresh runner from Pana river taken on Black Rainbow IBS fly

So, what should a fly-fisherman do if he wants to be sufficiently equipped with a broad range of flies to meet different and varying circumstances, but at the same time doesn't want to spend a huge amount of money and free time tying thousands of flies?
Last year, one of my online friends asked me to bring a pack of standard brass Morrum tubes to Russia for him to try. We hadn't discussed much just how to tie flies on such tubes, because each pack comes with a leaflet with simple instructions in English and I actually couldn't see any obstacles or potential difficulties. Which just shows how wrong you can be!

As my friend couldn't read English, he tried it his way. First, he tied wing on plastic insertion, and then set a metal part as it should be and secured it from behind with a piece of silicone tubing. We discussed the sequence of tying on one of the Russian web sites, and when I discovered his "mistake", I helped make it clear how you normally tie on these tubes, describing the correct way without paying much attention to his method.

Pinky IBS fly

Pinky IBS fly

Pinky IBS fly
The same fly with three different bodies; Pinky IBS

Only later, sitting with my vice and playing with materials, I had the impulse to check out his sequence to see if it would actually be easier to do, or to add some new elements. There were many different tubes lying in front of me on my tying board. It suddenly struck me that many of them could be set on the same fly, making it different from case to case. The "Interchangeable Body Tube System" was born!

Some fishers may think such patterns are too simple to fish. Nevertheless, it has shown good results all around Scandinavia, Kola peninsula and Kamchatka. For each wing attached to the plastic insert, I combined a few different metal bodies, according to my own idea of how the fly should look. This method gives you the option to use free swinging or fixed hooks, as you please. You just need to bring a stock of silicone tubing in different lengths along with you on your fishing trips.

Kolpakova Rainbow taken on Pinky IBS fly
Kolpakova Rainbow taken on Pinky IBS fly

Each "Interchangeable Body Set" includes a certain type of body in different combinations. This allows me to meet most situations I might encounter on the river bank, such as changes in water temperature and colour, changes in light (sunny or gloomy weather, mid-day or sunset/sunrise hours), different current speeds, and so on. I think the system may prove specially useful in those unpredictable days of spring and autumn when weather changes play a really crucial role and a change in how you present your fly makes all the difference. On early patterns I used usual front hackle made from cock, but later realised that hackle made from dubbed rabbit hair turned to be more sufficient and easier to handle on this type of flies.

Fresh Kolpakova Silver salmon taken on Pinky IBS silver Long Range
Fresh Kolpakova Silver salmon taken on
Pinky IBS silver Long Range

Now, a very simple example will show how important the colour of the body can be in Half-incher flies. Two years ago, I went fishing with a friend on Mörrum. Since we have often tied flies together and exchanged ideas, our fly-boxes are pretty similar, but... You may have noticed that almost every tier wants to have something new to try without saying anything before he sees the results, and my friend wasn’t an exception. He had tied a well-known Mörrum pattern, just changing the colour of the body from black to silver. The prize for this innovation turned out to be a bright fresh runner over 17 kg and the third place in the Mörrum league. Well, as we Russians like to say: though you may live a century, you'll never stop learning!

I hope you will find the method as interesting as I have.

More examples of IBS flies:
Black and Red IBS
Black Rainbow IBS
Rusty Green IBS

P.s. Flies were checked out on river Pana (Kola peninsula) at the beginning of June 2002 and on river Kolpakova (Kamchatka) at middle of Sptember 2002.

Jurij Shumakov © 2003




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