Published Jun 17. 2013 - 10 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 17. 2015

Catskill Tube Flies

The cradle of American fly-fishing in the Catskills and tube flies isn't something normally connected, but fly-tyer Richard Katzman ties tube flies to be fished in these hallowed waters.

Tying table - Clockwise from the top left: myself (Martin Joergensen), Bob Petti, Richard Ross, Steve Schweitzer and Mike Hogue
Richard Katzman - The tyer of the Catskill tube flies
Catskill tying and Catskill fishing
Richard Katzman - Bjarke Joergensen

During a recent stay in the US I tied flies at The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum and decided to tie something that I was sure people rarely saw in this part of the US: tube flies.

While I was getting out my vise and my tools and started preparing for the first tube, a man approached and showed interest in my tying. He introduced himself as Richard Katzman, a local angler and sat down and watched in silence for a while.
As we sat there we of course started talking, and to my great surprise Richard was a tube fly tyer.
And not only that, because he didn't tie the tubes for some remote salmon or steelhead river or to fish in the ocean... no, he fished the tubes in the local Catskill streams!
Now, meeting a tube fly tyer was a surprise, but imagine my surprise when I learned that they were used locally - in the crib of American fly fishing and the birthplace of the Adams and many other classic dry flies.

Bass Catcher

Catskill Moth


Electric Tube Fly

Extended body mayfly

Fan Tip

Richard and I kept in contact after the tying session, and Richard sent me a bunch of pictures of his own flies. I asked him how he got into fly tying and into tube fly tying in particular.

Here's Richard's story in his own words:
I started tying tube flies in October of 2012. I was in the process of learning to tie when I fished the very first fly I ever built. It was built on a hook. When I caught the fish, my fly took a little bit of a beating.
That night I went back on YouTube to continue learning by watching more fly tying videos. I saw Davie McPhail tying a fly on a "tube".
This really intrigued me.
Especially after learning that the fly would travel away from the mouth and teeth of the fish and ride up the tippet. I thought that this was the answer to saving my flies.
That's when I started to tie on tubes. Any and every type of tube I could find. I quickly realized that there were large, small and micro tubes. Then I found out that Q-Tips now come on a tube that is a size in between large and small. After awhile I decided that I should build my flies on micro tubes in order to conceal the tube.
Now my tubes look more realistic, and I consider myself a devout tube tier.
That's my story.

As you can imagine, Richard's flies get a bit of attention when people get a closer look, and even though tube flies are common in some parts of the world, they are not exactly widely used in the Catskills - or in most other parts of the US for that matter.

Richard tells:
I quickly realized that there aren't very many fly tiers in the Northeast of the US that tie tube flies.
When I go fishing, more and more anglers ask me about my flies. Some think they are strange, some think they are unique. A lot of them want my flies so that they can try them out. I find myself educating old time anglers in what they think is a "new" concept in fly and lure fishing. I tell them that tying flies go way back to the 1800's.
You should see the looks I get.

You should see the looks I get.

Here you see images of a whole bunch of Richard's flies, but further below you will find details about some of the patterns, allowing you to tie them and learn a bit about how to fish them.


Brown Sugar

Burning Man




Forestburgh Special

Foxy Lady

Grey Dart



Night Rider

Catskill Tube Fly -
Catskill Tube Fly -
Catskill Tube Fly
Richard Katzman

Catskill Tube Fly

This is a "Catskill Tube Fly". It measures 5/8" front to back. It is built on HMH Micro tubing. Instead of using hook tubing to fasten the size 12 dry fly hook, I prefer to heat the tip of a scratch awl and widen the tubing so that the hook seats inside the micro tubing. This gives a more sleek design without the bulky hook tubing. The nose of the fly gives the sleek appearance that the Catskill fly is noted for.
I have fished this tube fly all day long last week as a dry fly and also as a wet fly when it got saturated. Even though it was saturated it floated just under the top of the water. I stopped counting the amount of fish I caught at around 40+. The fly worked as a tube fly should. When the fish took the fly, the hook stayed with the fish and the fly scooted up the tippet away from the fish.
It was a great fishing day for the Catskill Tube fly and me. I had a blast! I will never go fishing without a few in my box even though there was very little wear on the fly.

Olive Spice

Olive Spice

I call this my "Olive Spice" tube fly.
This measures about 1" long or for our metric friends, 25mm. She's got a lot of fluff and moves nicely on the water.

What it's made of:

Olive Spice
Pattern type: 
Tube fly
Richard Katzman
White Q-Tip tube and a small piece of micro tubing for the hook
6//0 tan
Olive Squirrel tail
Side wings
Coastal deer hair on sides only
Top wing
Olive Marabou and one piece of red and green Kystal Flash
Adhesive Holographic 5/32 Super Pearl
Top coat
Loon´s UV Thin Clear Coat
Tube nose
Cut on an angle dabbed with permanent brown magic marker then clear coated with Loom\'s UV thin clear coat
Skill level/difficulty: 

White Moth, front

White Moth, side

White Moth

I call this tube fly the "White Moth".

Built as follows:

White Moth
Pattern type: 
Tube fly
Richard Katzman
White medium size rigid
Tan 6/0 Uni
White strung Chinese saddle hackle; used feathers from top as well as bottom marabou
30 lb monofilament melted ends, red magic marker colored
4 pieces of white hackle feathers
Crazy glued head thread
Skill level/difficulty: 

The bottom marabou of the hackle feathers really gives this fly a lot of movement. As always concealing the tube is of utmost importance to me. The first photo is what the fish will see.

Simply Orange

Simply Orange

The "Simply Orange" tube fly measures 1" or 25mm long.

Simply Orange
Pattern type: 
Tube fly
Richard Katzman
Medium white tube. Micro tubing used inside medium tube to allow for smaller hook shank to be held inside without hook tubing.
Veevus gold 30m iridescent
Orange bucktail tips and cut ends folded back
A few strands of orange synthetic tie down material and Veevus separated thread strands
Skill level/difficulty: 

Results: Orange dry fly floater.

Samples of Richard's Catskill tube flies

Clouser Grey Minnow

Comet Special

Crispy Gray

Fancy Flight

Fancy Popper

Fire Pupa

Green Eyed Cicada

Green Minnow

Speckled Popper

Katzman Fly

Lion Caddis

Orange Spray

Silver Streak

Silver Tail


Snub Nose

Spent Caddis

Steelhead Delight

White Head Mayfly

Willy Bug

Tubes in the Catskills - Richard Katzman in a Catskill stream, most likely fishing a tube fly
A Catskill tube fly-fisher
Richard Katzman


Great artistic work...

Great artistic work.

They look pretty and...

They look pretty and like some of the type my father has used many years ago for trout fishing.

Very interesting art...

Very interesting article...great tubes. Inspiring!

I'm glad you found t...

I'm glad you found the article and the flies amazing. This is just a small sampling of the flies in my collection. I have over 138 custom built tube flies that I have compiled in a YouTube slide show called Catskill Tube Flies. You can view the slide show by going to Youtube.

I plan on enhancing this collection as time goes on. A plan for instructional videos is coming soon. Just subscribe to the slide show and check back from time to time. Leave comments and I will be happy to answer your question and help if I can. Another slide of hook shank flies will be aired soon. Thank you.

Awesome article. The...

Awesome article. The flies are just amazing. We're hooked!

Way to go. Great fl...

Way to go. Great flies, keep up the nice work.


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