Swedish version

Coloured tubes. Perspectives.
by Jurij Shumakov

Colored transparent bodies on mirror, photo by Jurij Shumakov
Colored transparent bodies on mirror

  It is absolutely true that Scandinavia is one of the leaders in the fly-fishing world today. And not only in equipment design, but in fly pattern design too. Living here in Sweden for more than 12 years, I have never stopped to be amazed at just how creative, innovative and careful in tying Scandinavian tiers are. But a portion of critical distance is never useless, even when dealing with absolute guru products.

  When I saw, for the first time back in 2004, the fluorescent coloured tubes described in an article by Michael Frödin in the Swedish fishing magazine "Fiske för alla", I wasn't much impressed. Perhaps because of the way the innovation was presented. Lurid photo of coloured cone heads of about the size of my fist, with coloured leaps made from fluorescent tubing staring at me on the title page clearly led me to the conclusion this was a pure advertisement trick, with the aim of impressing and catching customers, rather than fish. The effect of the photo was enhanced by the use of UV light. Size of that leap at front of cone head is about 1mm in diameter in reality, so with fish watching fly 99% from behind and below this coloured bijouterie can hardly be seen at all. The rear coloured part of tube can be easily replaced by coloured silicone tubing on any usual tube, like transparent plastic or metal ones, without significant changes in fly appearance. Three flies presented in that article were evening or night patterns, one had dense tinsel body, and only one fly was a clear illustration of the idea. So at first sight, from my point of view, the idea looked like a "dead baby" at the time.

  When I look at any fly, especially tied on tubes, I first look how body is built. On the flies presented in that historical article, nothing was new, just ordinary tube fly bodies. But since I was always looking for as much transparency and translucency as possible in my flies I returned to Frödin's idea of transparent coloured tube flies some years later. The reason was pretty simple: the second photo of that article, where only tube bodies were shown. Those examples of bodies were half covered in non-transparent flat tinsel, which heavily reduced the positive side of idea, while front was tied with sparse synthetic dubbing.

  My idea to exchange flat holographic or any other tinsel with something that helps save transparency sat lurking at the back of my head for quite a long time. Solution came when I was working with a balanced and coloured tube system. Highly reflecting and fine new materials can be used, not only to enhance the wing with glimmering and colour, but inserted in transparent tube they can improve body appearance too. Those strands of different materials could be fixed inside of body tubing by smaller front tube, and glued with Super glue. They did not reduce place for tippet material, or affect ability to set hook eye directly into the fly body.

  Coloured tubes with flash inside. Photo by Jurij Shumakov
Coloured tubes with flash inside. Inserted Micro Crystal Hair, mix of Holographic silver and Midge Crystal Hair and Krinkle Mirror flash

  Using set of tungsten micro tubes from German company WURM Tungsten Products, I easily solved problem of fly balance without using cone heads. Those compact tubes with a weight of commonly used size M brass cone heads allow me to build perfect fly with small and accurate head, either adjusting colour of front plastic leap to head colour, or making it contrast. The outer diameter of tungsten tube is exactly as plastic tube used for body, and small enough to be covered by sparse dubbing without creating bulky silhouette. Tubes produced in silver, gold, copper and gun smoke colours provided a range quite broad to cover my needs.

Serebrjanka dubbing, Photo by Jurij Shumakov
Serebrjanka dubbing

  Each idea must be digested and matured. Often that process has a few steps. Another trigger to improve transparency of body occurred when I was dyeing a portion of Caucasian Serebrjanka goat hair. I brushed a patch of hair and, after cleaning the brush, I left hair curled up in ball on my table. Hours later, when I came back to the kitchen, the sun was lighting the table with lumps of hair. They were shining like hell! In addition, I could see through them! The new dubbing quickly became my favourite on tube flies, where bushy body is often required. But those "bushy" bodies on new flies have never appeared as the ones made from dense synthetic dubbings. When I started experiments with different transparent materials, as well as with methods of applying on tube, the time for Fredin's coloured and transparent tubes had finally come.

  You can save transparency if you apply suitable material, tightly applied on tube. Certain softness of tube allows you to place ribbing, hackle and other rounded materials firmly on place you applied them, so with a bit of pressure they go deep into outer tubing and can hardly be moved.

Body of Green Magenta. Photo by Jurij Shumakov
Closeup showing body of Green Magenta

  The use of transparent hairs, like from Polar bear or Serebrjanka goat, in combination with saved translucency of coloured tube body, produces an outstanding effect and brings whole fly an appealing appearance. At this stage, I can't say that this combination is fully developed or present a small article. I prefer to put forward the suggestion to use transparent tubes for those fly tiers outside of Scandinavia who can't read Frödin's article in the original, rather than present this idea as a confirmed and certain recommendation. I just have a feeling that it might work, and invite other tiers to try it.

  You can also use some of the newest synthetic materials to decorate body of fly, and at the same time save transparency, at least partly. One such material is Crystal and Tri-Lobal hackle. The most simple, and definitely not the worst solution to save transparency, is just to leave whole tube without any dubbing or other materials. Such flies have shown very good results for both Atlantic and Pacific salmon. My favourite Sunray Shadow version, tied on slightly brownish transparent tube, is deadly for Norwegian and Kola salmon, while Purple Shadow hooked both landlocked and East coast American Steelhead, as well as bright Chromies and Kings on Kamchatka Peninsula.

  Preparing for the new season and looking at my new creations, I must thank for the idea of coloured transparent tubes, and would subscribe to Fredin's words in that article:" To find a new solution, which allows to make things simpler, to improve and perhaps, make for a better appearance of fly, is definitely the real joy of the fly tier". I would like to add, that I still have fun, and enjoy tying huge flies with heads not bigger than 2 mm.J

  Photos of flies with coloured tube system:

Photo by Jurij Shumakov

Photo by Jurij Shumakov

Photo by Jurij Shumakov

Photo by Jurij Shumakov

  *Serebrjanka hair is still not the kind of material that you can easily purchase in your nearest fly fishing store nowadays. A few years of close work with the hair has given me knowledge, which could be useful for others. Sooner or later this type of goat hair will become standard, I believe, because it does not come from rare wild, but from domestic farm animals. I know that fly-fishermen are becoming more and more interested in it, so I would like to give some recommendations based on my experience.

Natural Serebrjanka goat hair, close veiw. Photo by Jurij Shumakov
Natural Serebrjanka goat hair, close veiw

  When you look for it you should pay a lot of attention to how straight the hair is. Most Serebrjanka hair is more or less wavy. The less wavy the hair is, the better it lies incorporated in wing. On the other hand, the hair is so fine and soft, that as soon as fly hits the water, all hair waves disappear, so hair becomes straight and does not affect fly appearance. The best hair of high grade is totally straight, but to find skin with such hair structure is very tricky business. If you are lucky to buy a whole skin of natural and real Caucasian Serebrjanka goat, you can find only few patches of straight hair on it. The rest of the hair will be wavy. The question is therefore how strongly wavy the hair on the rest of skin is. Normally, I don't pay much attention if hair has a couple of waves. It is fairly easy to reduce waviness by rotating of bunch of hair between fingers. Individual hairs will lose the same direction. It gives bunch of hair more volume.

  Another lesson I have learned by experience is that it is impossible to build whole wing from only long hair, because in water it will collapse and lose volume. The best way to use long hair from mature animal is to place layer of goat hair between sections of other hair, for example Arctic fox. Usually I cover bunch of Arctic fox with thin layer of the same colour Serebrjanka hair. On coloured wings, like hot orange or red, a top layer of Serebrjanka over the wing gives outstanding effect: whole wing shines like varnished. Such wings are especially effective on flies for early or late season, when water is cold and salmon must be "warmed up" with something really bright and shiny.

Hair from Serebrjanka mature animal. Photo by Jurij Shumakov
Hair from Serebrjanka mature animal

  Hair on patch of Serebrjanka contains two types of hair: long and short. It is, perhaps, very unusual, but guard hair of Serebrjanka is quite thick and short, while under fur is fine but long. On some skins, transparent guard and under fur can be found at the same time. It gives a nice opportunity to use both types of hair for different types and sizes of flies.

  Short guard hair is actually very nice, which I saw for the first time on skin of immature Serebrjanka when I discovered this fantastic material. That short hair is perfect for small flies, or to use it as under wing on big flies instead of Polar bear. Perhaps, it is a particularity of Serebrjanka goat that the young animal first gets dense guard hair, and only later under fur develops in full length of about 15-25 cm. So you can benefit from the same patch of hair material for different purposes. I think that long, slightly waved under fur hair can be easily turned into nice and shiny transparent natural dubbing.

Inside of shiny colours. Photo by Jurij Shumakov
Inside of shiny colours 

  The hair very easy takes a dye into it, and doesn't loose its transparency. This dubbing can be used for bodies on big and medium size flies. For dubbing purposes, it doesn't matter how strongly waved hair is. When you buy Serebrjanka, also pay attention to quality and transparency. Often hair is shiny, but not transparent. Some skins contain milky guard hair, while under fur is transparent. Such variations of hair quality may be confusing. Just in February 2006, I checked about 30-40 Serebrjanka skins, and only 2 of them were of the right quality, while one of them was too wavy, so I could use it only for making dubbing.

  *I've written this notice because I have already been seeing Serebrjanka hair sell commercially in the West, but not all of those commercial products are of a quality I would personally buy.

Text and photos by Jurij Shumakov 2006 ©



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