Published Oct 15. 2002 - 21 years ago
Updated or edited Jan 24. 2021


A tube fly is different - a muddler is me - a tube muddler is a perfect choice. Tube muddlers are not unknown to me. I have tied and fished a few in my time, and I like them... so do the fish by the way.

Chicago-Zürich-Copenhagen Delayed Nutria Tube Muddler
Martin Joergensen

What extensive travelling can lead to...

I'm tying at a fly show in Chicago, and a person who knows my web site steps up to my tying table and asks me to tie one of these: A Full Metal Jacket Nutria Muddler
"Well, I can't" says I, "I'm only tying tube flies at this show!" Showing him the tubes (some of them Q-Tips) and my primitive tube vice tool, a thought strikes me.
"Why not tie it as a tube?"

Muddlers and tubes go together very well.

So I get out my darning needles, my new tube tool as a backup, deer hair, my nutria skin, some tinsels and get started. And as hoped the fly comes out a beauty. Large but yet light, brutal but yet elegant. Just my kind of fly. I show off to the rest of the spectators and my fellow tyers at the table.

Choose your favorite color
Martin Joergensen
Full Metal Jacket Nutria Muddlers AKA FMJNM
Martin Joergensen

A variation of a favorite fly pattern of mine has been born thanks to that spectator.
I have this Illustrated Pattern Swap coming up. It's the third and I have been in both the earlier ones. I want to make something that's me, but hopefully something different from what everybody else is doing.
A tube fly is different – a muddler is me – a tube muddler is a perfect choice.
Tube muddlers are not unknown to me. I have tied and fished a few in my time, and i like'em... so do the fish by the way.
I'm on my way back from Chicago. My trip over was a horror show with cancellations and delays and lost luggage.
I went from Copenhagen to Zürich, Zürich to New York, New York to Chicago.
And the my bag with all my tying stuff (and clean underwear) was three days late.
The trip back has only one cancellation and a four hour delay which gives me time to draw up sketches of the fly. I'm munching Swiss cookies and drinking espressos in the business class lounge in Zürich Airport. What a relief after the thin American coffee. As time passes I dub the fly The Chicago-Zürich-Copenhagen Delayed Nutria Tube Muddler – or CZCDNTM for short.
I go over the tying process in my head, and let the pencil work on my newly acquired sketch paper. I'm not good at drawing, but things work out OK anyway.
I can see what's happening with the fly - so will the IPS audience... hopefully.
This is an unfished fly. It or any of its kindred has never touched water.
It will work. I fell the confidence as I hear the boarding call to the plane to Copenhagen.
I decide not to include tying instructions with my submission. Just some sound advice on tying tubes and muddlers. I consider both types great fishing flies and great fun to tie. Here are the points I want to stress:
Tubes: Play with some inexpensive tubes. I often use Q-Tips. Cut off the cotton and melt a small collar with a flame. Use a large darning needle as your tube vice. You can always buy Slipstream copper tubes and an expensive Renzetti tube vice later. And remember: tubes require a lot of material and demand more than usual precision because of the large surface on the shank. Especially tinsel bodies are more than revealing.

Muddlers: Hair! I want to stress hair. The importance of the right material cannot be stressed enough in this connection. Don't use any deer hair. Most is not suitable. Get some that is suitable for spinning or stacking and make sure your source knows what they're doing when it comes to fly tying and knows what they have on their shelves.

Tying on a tube fly is quite easy. Any tube fly you tie, you leave a small piece og the tube uncovered by materials. After tying or before fishing you set a piece of rubber tubing over that rear end. The hook slides into the extension of that tube and stays in place while you fish.
Tying on the fly is easy. Draw the leader through the tube, tie on the hook and pull the hook eye into the rear tube. You can select a traditional treble hook, but a lot of fishers will choose a short shank single hook. There are specially designed hooks of both kinds. They have narrow needle eyes which facilitates slipping into the soft tubing.
The CZCDNTM can easily be transformed into a CZCFMJNTM.
Yeah, that's The Chicago-Zürich-Copenhagen Full Metal Jacket Nutria Tube Muddler. It takes nothing but a large brass cone. Slip it over the leader before you tie on the fly, and presto! You have a deep sea diver.
Fishing this thinggy is a challenge. Don't try casting a fly like this on your average trout rod. This is a big fly with weight and air resistance. It's meant to be fished on a two hand rod, but with some gentle movements it can no doubt be cast on a heavy single hander in the 8-9-10 range.

The least expensive material and tool for tube flies: Q-tips (cotton swabs) and a large darning needle which fits into the tube and the vice.
Martin Joergensen
First steps
Zonker strip
First steps
Martin Joergensen

Instructions for tying the CZCDNTM

You need the following materials:

  1. Tube: Q-tip
  2. Thread: Tan or brown, 6/0 or strong
  3. Rib: Oval silver tinsel
  4. Body: Flat silver tinsel
  5. Tail: Nutria Zonker strip
  6. Collar and head: Natural deer hair
  7. Hook tube: Silicone or vinyl
  8. Hook: Tube treble or single

Tying instructions:
1: Tie in the ribbing in the rear of the tube. Leave approx. ½ centimeter for hook tube
2: Cover the body with a smooth layer of tying thread. Leave almost 1 centimeter for head in front.
3: Tie in the tinsel in front of the tube.
4: Wind the tinsel to the rear of the tube and back again to form a smooth tinsel body
5: Tie down the tinsel and cut surplus
6: Tie in a piece of zonker strip right in front of the tinsel body. Do not trim.
7: Pull the strip to the rear and tie it down with five tight turns of the ribbing
8: Tie down the ribbing and cut surplus

Hair stacking
Final steps
Final steps
Martin Joergensen


You can find tubes a...

You can find tubes and tube kits at most fly tying shops, you can use q-tips, the ones with the hollow plastic tubes, or you can use tubing (plastic or metal) found at hobby stores. Most common sizes to use for tube flies are 1/8" or 3/32" OD (outside diameter). If you are using a metal tube, you will have to line it with a hollow plastic tube to prevent cutting your leader.

Martin Joergensen's picture

The tubes can be pla...

The tubes can be plastic tubes, which can be found in many well stocked flyshops. I have also used cotton swabs. Trim off the cotton and you have a nice tube. Some are too brittle to work, but some are sturdy enough to last.


where could I find t...

where could I find tube materials


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