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Tube Fly Hitory The History & Evolution of the Tube Fly
Tube flies have been in use in North America for well over a century. Native North American's used "flies" tied on hollow quills to fish the once prolific west coast salmon runs as far back as the nineteenth century. This method however quickly disappeared and it would be many decades before tube flies would make an appearance again, this time across the pond in Great Britain.

The first written description of a tube fly comes from noted british author/angler Alexander Wanless in the early 1930's. His ideas however fail to gain traction with the fly anglers of the day, quite possibly due to the fact that his book was written for spin fisherman and failed to reach the audience who would finally embrace the design.

Credit for the birth of the "modern" tube fly is now generally given to Mrs. Winnie Morawski, a fly dresser with the Charles Playfair & Co. tackle manufacturer located in Aberdeen, around 1945. Her original creations were traditional patterns tied on sections of turkey quill with the hook shank (generally treble's at this time) bound inside. It's a wonder that this style could manage to catch on, as turkey quill is rather fragile and having hook and tube bound together negates much of the benefits inherent in the tube fly design. For this we can be grateful to William Michie, a british doctor who suggested using surgical tubing rather than quills while visiting the Playfair Co. It is at this point that the notion of tube flies begins to spread and it's usage and evolution become rather swift.

While tube flies are rapidly evolving and spreading across Europe, a very interesting thing is happening back here in North America in the late 1940's. Fly fishermen in Washington, Florida, and the North East are simultaneously, and independently of one another, quietly "inventing" tube flies of their own. Due to the extremely isolated nature of there development and the huge differences, both between regions and from the earlier european tube flies, it looks most likely that these flies were created to fill a need specific to the fishery and probably not due to exposure to the now fashionable european tube flies. As is often the case in fly fishing, necessity is the mother of invention.

In Washington, tube flies are being used to create long-bodied streamer patterns for ocean trolling for Pacific Salmon, while Florida anglers realized the benefits of tube fly design for large off shore billfish flies. In the North East, the tube fly is adopted by both Maine's landlocked Salmon fishery and the coast's beach combing Striped Bass fishermen. Again, the Great Lakes fishermen fail to notice this innovation in fly tying and the tube fly misses it's opportunity to catch on.

Learn More About Tube Flies
  • Introduction to Tube Flies
  • History of the Tube Fly
  • The Benefits of Tube Flies (Coming Soon!)
  • Buying & Making Tubes (Coming Soon!)
  • Tube Vise Options (Very Soon!)
  • Basic Tube Fly Tying Techniques
  • Saltwater Tube Flies
  • Steelhead Tube Flies
  • Rigging & Fishing Tubes
Fly Tying Article By: Brian Doelle

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