Tube flies are a great addition to your fly boxes, with more and more rivers going catch and release or imposing hook restrictions the benefits of the tube fly have become even more apparent. You can easily switch out a double hook for a single should the rules dictate.
I really enjoy fishing with long winged or tailed style flies, those long fibres move so well in the current but have you ever noticed that the tails or wings can become wrapped up in the hook? Nothing is more annoying than fishing through a pool and winding in at the end to discover a tangled wing around the hook. How long has it been like that? Did you just present a wonky fly the entire length of the pool? In this weeks blog I want to share with you a solution, that will enable you to break free from the fixed hook and tangle issues. Free Swinging!
Free swinging hooks are not a new idea in the salmon world, but it means the hook is free from the tube, not mounted like we traditionally imagine our tube flies. Thats right, no more need for that junction tubing to be squeezed over the end of the tube on a cold, wet morning. Now you don’t want to just dangle a hook off the end of your tube fly, a small piece of plastic tubing to cover the knot is needed, this ensures your hook stays in line and does not dangle at a 90 degree angle.
There are several free swinging hook components on the market, they all function perfectly in their intended role but I prefer to make my own. It was Stefan Jones who first put out a video on YouTube that showed exactly how to do it. By making your own free swinging hook covers it allows you to play around with colours, make the cover as long or as short as you wish, you can even make them fatter or thinner with different diameter tubing. We all have the tubing in our Flytying drawers I am sure! The standard 3mm tubing works perfectly, I have been using the eumer and FITS tubing lately to create my own covers, they melt and stretch just fine so whatever brand preference you have just know, it will work!
Now to make these free swinging hook covers you only need some tubing and a lighter, if doing large batches then I like to use a heat gun, but the lighter is fine! Take your tubing and gently heat it while rotating it smoothly. You will see it start to change colour and begin to go soft. Don’t heat it too much, and try to heat it evenly around the tube as you want it to stretch evenly. Then gently stretch the tubing out a few cm, try to pull in line as this keeps everything nice and straight, stop, stay calm, don’t move and allow the plastic to cool one again. Within seconds it sets hard and you have just created two hook covers. Choose how long you want them to be and cut them to length. There is a tiny bit of wastage in the centre but it is a great way of making all different sizes and colours, you can even trim them on the river bank with a pair of nippers.
A few practices and you will soon get the hang of how much heat and stretch each tubing requires. There really is no limit to the colour combinations and lengths you can make. I usually like to blend the tubing colour to the colours found within the fly I am fishing with, although sometimes a completely contrasting colour is a great way of triggering a response.
Break free from the fixed tubes, give free swinging a try.