Working With Stretch Tubing

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Photo by Bob Reece

By Bob Reece

I love flies that have both transparency and durability. 

Incorporating stretch tubing into the construction of a pattern adds both of these elements.  In addition to this, manipulating the material and those that it’s paired with, can help produce more effective flies. 

Stretch tubing comes in the sizes of micro, midge and standard.  Micro is the smallest ranging up to standard on the large end of the scale.  This range of sizes provides a wide range of applications for patterns of all sizes.  For reference, I use the standard for nymphs size twelve and up.  Midge for nymphs down to size 18.  Lastly, micro for dries and nymphs size twenty and smaller. 

One huge benefit of the stretch tubing in comparison to solid vinyl ribs, is its elastic nature.  By applying different amounts of tension to the tubing, a tier can alter the diameter of the wraps that are laid down.  This allows for the creation of different natural tapers when imitating different bugs.

The color selection for stretch tubing is fairly extensive.  It is important to note though, that the color of the tubing itself is greatly affected by what it is paired with.  If wrapped over a dark thread, it will radiate a darker shade that when by itself.  Conversely, when partnered with a light thread a lighter shade is seen.  Even further, wrapping stretch tubing over different reflective materials produces even more varied results.  

Variety is a good thing.  As you continue to move forward in your tying ventures, add stretch tubing to your standard list of supplies.  It’s durability and versatility make it a beneficial addition to nymph and dry fly patterns.  

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4 thoughts on “Working With Stretch Tubing

  1. Hey Bob, I love that stuff too. It’s been a few years since I even touched that solid vinyl ribbing. I’ll lay down a base of white thread
    and use markers to bleed colors together or a few wraps of krystal flash for a hot spot and bling before wrapping the tube. Combinations are endless. John Collins inserts fine wire into the tube for his “Electric” series of patterns…genius
    Check this out

    Good stuff !

  2. I’ve been using stretch tubing for a couple of years. This is a great article in pointing out the versatility of this material. Undoubtedly, the possibilities are endless!

  3. Pingback: Working With Stretch Tubing | Fly Fishing | Gink and Gasoline | How to Fly Fish | Trout Fishing | Fly Tying – Context

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