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Guideline: FITS tube fly supplies and tying materials review
Posted 20 June 2011 - 06:55 AM
I just posted a review of the Guideline (FITS) tube fly system. I also reviewed a few of their tying supplies for those who do not tie tubes. Anyway, you can find the complete text of the review below and the review with photos at the following link: FITS Review
Guideline is a fly fishing company based in Sweden. They produce a full range of fly fishing equipment including single and double hand rods, some of the finest spey lines available, reels, clothing, waders, and fly tying supplies. Guideline products are among the top Scandinavian fly fishing companies and their dedication to the sport carries over into not just product development but also they run a series of spey "boot camps" in the U.S. to help both beginner and advanced spey casters hone their skills. Guideline's site also offers a nice selection of articles on tying with FITS tubes.
The review that follows will focus on the F.I.T.S., Guideline, and Salar tube fly system and a few tying materials. After having finished four tube fly system reviews I thought I had a pretty good grasp on tube fly design and theory. Most tube fly companies offer varying degrees of specialized tubes that are pre-formed and made of either brass or plastic. The tying platform on the tubes of the four companies I reviewed was pretty obvious and the basic design of the fly is established by the manufacturer. The F.I.T.S. system is different. The simplicity of the design was, I have to admit, a bit overwhelming at first. Where is the junction tubing? How do the different size tubes fit together? Why do the cones only fit on certain tubes? After watching "Make em swim" by Mikael Frodin the genius of the F.I.T.S. system started to make sense. With the F.I.T.S. system the fly tier has complete control over the fly design and is only limited by material selection and imagination. If you want a 4" long tube fly, then you can make one. On the other hand if you want a size 14 tube fly that has a total length of 1/2" then the F.I.T.S. system has a tube that will work. Here is a look at the F.I.T.S. system in detail:
The F.I.T.S tube system
The basic tube design consists of four different size plastic tubes: extra small, small, medium, and large. The different size tubes can be tied individually or you can insert the smaller tubes into the larger ones to allow for different heads. The extra small tubes fit into the medium tubes and the small tubing fit inside the large tubes. The plastic tubes come in six colors and can be mixed and matched to create the exact color combination for a given fly.
For tube flies that consist of a single size tube all you have to do is cut a section of tubing and insert the tube into the F.I.T.S. tubing device or most any tube fly adapter, tie the fly and you are done. The F.I.T.S. heads will fit the extra small and small size tubes. If you want to use a head on a fly tied on medium or large tubing, then all you have to so is insert the corresponding smaller tube into the larger tube and you are good to go. To connect the two tubes simply cut an angle on the larger tube, insert the smaller tube, and tighten things down with a few turns of thread.
To connect the two tubes simply cut the larger tube on an angle and then secure with a few turns of thread. The FITS needle does a great job of holding both tubes. No need to use messy glues to secure two sections of tube.
The F.I.T.S system offer a wide range of cones to allow your fly to balance; additionally you can control which part of the water column your fly presents in and how much action you would like the materials to receive. The cones also do a great job in keeping soft material such as spey plumes or arctic fox from compressing in the current. All of the F.I.T.S and Guideline cones come in a nice range of sizes that further allow you to control how much impact the current has on the fly. The size range also helps prevent material spin-out that often happens when a cone is too small for a given fly. Below is a quick look at the different cones.
Plastic turbo cones add almost no weight to your fly but generate tons of movement. Guideline also offers soft rubber turbo cones that can be custom colored with markers. These are perfect for flies that you want to ride just below the surface. They also work great when fished with a sink tip.
In addition to cones Guideline offers tungsten tubes that can be slipped over the small tubing. These tubes work great for balancing out larger flies or for those times when you need to present a fly deep quickly. I have used these in conjunction with a 10' section of T14 for those holes where you have very little clearance and need to get your fly down fast.
Guideline also offers a complete range of hooks to accompany your tube flies. They offer single, double, and treble hooks in a nice range of sizes. These hooks are extremely sharp! The only other hooks I have used that compare are Knapek hooks. The Guideline hooks have a "sticky" point and the short stout lengths work great for securing the hook via junction tubing or a knotted leader.
Salar synthetic series Angel Hair HD (Heavy duty) is a version of standard angel hair only in a slightly heavier version. Unlike traditional angel hair the HD does not pull out and offers a bit more flash when you need it. It is thick enough to pick out individual strands and for its size is very durable. Like the Salar dubbing the colors of the Angel Hair HD are unlike anything I have seen in the States. The blends offer purple with hints of red and gold and the "rainbow from hell" is a a gold variant with copper and green highlights. If you have ever admired Mikael Frodin's flies the subtle flash comes from these blends.
In Sum: After having worked with and written reviews for most the tube fly systems available the F.I.T.S. tubes are quickly becoming my favorite. The simplicity of the system gives the tier near complete control over the fly and the colors, sizes, and styles of cones available with the F.I.T.S. tubes allow the tier to control what the fly does in just about any situation. I have tied flies for bluegills, trout, steelhead, salmon, bass, and pike with the F.I.T.S. tubes and they have held up great. I also put some of the F.I.T.S. plastic tubing in a chest freezer for a few days to see how it holds up to freezing temperatures. Last winter I had a few flies (tied on tubes from two different companies) break when the temperature dropped into the teens. The F.I.T.S. tubes, even after being frozen for three days, still maintained their flexibility and would not break no matter how I twisted them.
I would recommend picking up Mikael Frodin's DVD "Make 'Em Swim". Mikael provides not only a wealth of information on working with F.I.T.S. tubes but his philosophy of tube fly construction is well worth the price of the DVD. Questions regarding when to use weight, how to balance a fly, which materials to use when, and different ways to secure the hook to the fly are addressed.
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Posted 20 June 2011 - 07:25 AM