A push of water...The Reversed Conehead
It was August of 1997. A day earlier I received a phone call from a good friend asking me if I wanted to go with him on a seven day, self-guided float trip on the Alagnak River in Alaska. As I listened to Tony describe the trip, I suddenly realized he was talking about leaving in three days! He had planned to go with his son but at the last minute the son couldn't make the trip. "Hell yes, I'm in", I said. Shortly after I hung up the phone, reality set in -I had no flies for such a trip. So, the next two nights were spent tying flies until wee hours of the morning. I was tying a bunch of conehead buggers and at one point, being way too tired, I mistakenly put one of the cones backwards on the hook prior to placing in the vise. Then it hit me, a fly with a backwards conehead would push a lot of water, possibly attract more attention and draw a few more strikes than typical conehead flies...
I've been tying and fishing a few different reversed cone patterns ever since and dubbed them the "oh-no" series for their O shaped head.
Once the cone is in place and the fly tied. I wrap the cone with bright thread, leaving the very edge of the front of the cone bare. I then coat with five minute epoxy...
Oh-No Egg Sucking Leach
Oh-No Rabbit Strip Deceiver Tube Fly
The conehead has been available to tyers for a long time. However, try this reversed conehead method and see if it makes a difference in your fishing. At the very least you'll get a chuckle from your fishing buddies - at least at first...
The HMH Bottle Tube Alternative
Bottle tubes have been around for a while now and there are many styles of bottle tubes available to the tube fly tier. HMH has not offered a bottle tube - or have we?
First let's take a look at bottle tubes in general. Bottle tubes are nothing more than a weighted tube on which you tie the fly of choice on. All are tapered on the front to allow for smaller heads. This front taper also flares winging material, giving the fly a very lifelike, full bodied appearance. Some bottle tubes even come in a variety colors. All come in different shapes and sizes. The bottom line is that bottle tubes allow you to tie a variety of fly sizes with a lot of heft to them.
At one time John and I talked about making our own bottle tubes. We weren't entirely sold on the idea and yet wanted to increase our line of tying tubes. For many years now we've offered straight copper and aluminum tubes. We also offer micro tubing (liner tubing for hard tubes) and coneheads. As it turns out, you can use all of these components to create a great bottle tube that can be customized to your liking. Here's how...
You'll need 3/32" copper or aluminum tubing; standard drilled coneheads (brass or tungsten); hybrid tubing; thick-walled micro tubing.
HMH Bottle Tube Components
Insert the micro tubing into the copper tube and burn a nipple of plastic on the end of the micro tubing with a lighter and let cool. This will be the end that you place your hook holding tubing. You can do this in one of two ways: If using large Hybrid tubing, you'll slide the Hybrid tubing up and over the copper tube to secure (as shown in the completed HMH style bottle below with fl. chartreuse Hybrid tubing). If using the medium Hybrid tubing you'll want to slide the nipple end of the micro tubing inside of the Hybrid tubing about a 1/4" and butt the Hybrid tubing right up to the copper tubing (as shown in the Completed HMH style bottle tubes below with fl. pink Hybrid tubing). The butt joint that this creates matches the outside diameter of the brass tubing and allows the tier to make a fly body without a lump or ridge of hook holding tubing at the rear of the fly. If using hooks with very large hook eyes you'll need to use the first method of sliding the large Hybrid tubing up and onto the end of the brass tube.
Next slide the conehead onto the micro tubing on the front of the fly. Trim the micro tubing approximately 3/8" above the tip of the conehead and burn a small nipple of plastic on the micro tubing to hold everything in place. Note the length of micro tubing extending beyond the tip of the conehead. This will be your tying platform for the winging material and collars of your fly. Virtually all bottle tubes have a tapered front both to allow for flies with small heads and to flare the winging material and keep it from folding down flat onto the body of the fly. The tapered conehead of the HMH style bottle tube does this perfectly. The copper tubing can be left as is or covered with a body material such and chenille, dubbing, edge bright, etc.
So there you have it, a very good alternative to the standard bottle tube. However, with our system you have a lot more flexibility. You can use tube lengths from 1/2"-3" for copper or aluminum tubing and any length you want if using the HMH rigid cut to length tubes. You also have a choice of coneheads. Use brass or tungsten in any color.
HMH Completed Bottle Tubes
As fly tiers we're always looking for a new materials, improved tying methods, new patterns, etc. As you know by now we at HMH are very into tube flies. While thinking about our tube lineup the other day I came up with an idea...Why not make barbell type eyes from HMH tubes and coneheads or beadheads? So, I set out to see how this might work. I found it both easy and really cool. And if I used the Frodin tubing (available through HMH) and comes in colors, I could make Tube Eyes with colored eye balls. Here's how...
•Beads or coneheads (standard drilled)
•HMH Micro tubing or Frodin xs tubing
•Needle nose pliers
Thread the bead or cone onto the tubing and with the lighter melt the micro tubing to form the eyeball. The flared plastic tube that forms the eyeball also prevents the cone from sliding off the tube. Then hold the gently with the needle nose pliers and slide the second bead onto the tubing. Cut the tube about 1/16" above the second eye and secure by melting and flaring the exposed end of the tube.
If you need really big Tube Eyes you can use the HMH custom drilled cones and the appropriate sized tubing and follow the same procedure above. HMH custom drilled cones, tungsten cones, beads and HMH tubing can be found by following this link.
HMH Tubes, Beads and Cones
Another idea I've been experimenting with is tube lined cones. These can simply be slid onto the leader before tying on the fly to add weight (as well as jigging action) in front of buggers or streamers. I make these with the HMH custom drilled coneheads and HMH neon flex tubing.
Melt a nipple of plastic on one end of the flex tubing, slide cone onto tubing concave side first and slide the cone down to the flared end of tubing. Next cut the tubing approximately 1/8" above the tapered end of cone and melt plastic to secure.
That's it. Now go tie those Clousers, Crazy Charlies and other patterns calling for barbell eyes with these new Tube Eyes and tube cones.
HMH Completed Tube Eyes
How to nest HMH plastic tubes
When nesting HMH tubes there is no need for glue. Simply insert smaller tube within the larger tube leaving the smaller tube exposed at both ends of the larger diameter tube. Melt back a small nipple of plastic on the tip of the exposed smaller tube (rear of fly) using a lighter. Once cooled, pull the small tube (nipple end) inside the larger diameter tube. The nipple should be seated approximately 1/4" to 3/8" inside the larger tube (rear of fly).
Cutting a point on the front of the larger tube (see image below) will help to taper your tying surface as well as allow the thread to further bind the two tubes together.
Mount nested tubes for tying with pins or mandrels (.041 for standard HMH Micro Tubing or .031 for thick wall HMH Micro Tubing) within the eye of the tube tool (as shown below) or in the chuck of the Spinner, Tube Vise Converter or Premium Tube Vise.
HMH Nested tubes