One of the first steps to tying a tube fly would be to purchase or create a tube fly vise. You can accomplish this in many ways. The simplest method, and the most inexpensive is to purchase a few different sizes of blind eye hooks. The blind eye hooks fit snugly into the vise you already have. I used several sizes of blind eye hooks when I first started tying tube flies. As you acquire and tie different sizes, and materials of tubes, you may find that the blind eye hooks aren’t suitable for all tube fly tying situations.
Another very simple option, is to use your bodkin (pictured left), and place it in your vise, and tie the tube on the bodkin. This can be a good technique if you don’t have any other options available to you. The disadvantage of the bodkin would be that you have a very limited size of tubes that fit properly onto the bodkin.
My preferred method, is to use a tube fly vise adapter (on the right). These are both inexpensive and highly functional. I really like the Eumer Tube Adapter Kit. The kit comes with 3 mandrel pins, and 2 graduated pins. With the 5 different pins you are able to tie many different types and sizes of tubes. There are several different manufactures of tube fly vises and I have not tried them all. With tube fly vise adapters I have noticed that you don’t always get more when you pay more. In some cases I have found that buying from a European manufacturer can be a safer bet, as opposed to buying from the newer companies that are making tube fly vise adapters in the US.
If you are like me, and want to have a pin or needle for every tube you can think of, you can pick up the Canadian Tube Fly Companies Tapered Needle Kit (pictured below). The kit includes 9 different needles that should cover you for almost all of your tube fly situations. Combining the Eumer Tube Adapter Kit with the Tapered Needle Kit from CTFC is a great combo that is still very inexpensive and just a fraction of the cost of buying an actual “tube fly vise”.
The most obvious option, and possibly the option that most people think of first, is to go out and purchase an official “tube fly vise”. I wouldn’t be surprised if tube fly vises work well, hell they may even work great, I’ll never know. I already own a very good quality vise, and see no reason to spend $100-300 on a “tube fly vise”. For less then $30 I can purchase a good quality tube vise adapter that fits into the vise I already own, and will do everything that the outrageously expensive tube fly vises do. Also, if you have tube fly vise, you are extremely limited in your range of tying options. All you will be able to tie on that vise, is tube flies. With a tube fly adapter, you can remove it from the vise any time you want and go back to tying on hooks or shanks, if the situation arises.
So, maybe the economic woes that most of us have been facing lately have not hit you. And hey, you have the extra cash to go out and purchase that shiny new tube fly vise. I still think you may be wasting your money, and valuable bench space. I find myself constantly running out of space at my tying station, with all the different materials, tubes, hooks, junction tubing and other things that clutter my table, I would be very pressed for space if i had to deal with two different vises. I could not imagine dealing with two different fly tying vises, when I have one vise that when slightly modified, effectively does the work of two.