Many fly fishers do not like or use tubeflies, perhaps because there is no obvious top and bottom to the fly, and thus no good place to put that eye that most streamer fishermen adore. The bouncer keel can change all that, and the sink-rate of a pattern can be easily changed by using more or fewer beads.
Tubeflies are good for short-striking fish because the hook can be placed further back, and more fish are landed because the short-shank hooks used in tubefly construction don't give the fish as much leverage to "throw" the hook. Tubeflies are generally more durable than regular flies because the tube body usually moves up the leader out of the fish's mouth when playing the fish and when extracting the hook after landing. Since the body of the fly can be re-used if the hook is dulled or damaged, tubeflies are a good option when extra flies are hard to get, like on a long rafting trip or in a remote country.
Tubeflies often have a short section of soft vinyl tubing to connect the hook to the tube. In addition, you can also use a short section of removeable tubing to connect one end of the keel mono to the head of the fly as shown in the photo, allowing you to change the fly's weight to meet conditions in the field by adding or removing beads. For situations like spooky fish in shallow water, you can quickly ascertain the minimum weight needed to turn a particular fly hook-point up.
Some tubeBouncers are shown in the photos below, as well as an inexpensive vise you can make to construct tubeBouncers. Click on the photos to enlarge and to get more details about the fly construction.
Proptail flies work. I think it is because when a
predator fish is chasing a baitfish it canít see much of its prey from
behind, and makes its decision to eat or not based on the sonic
vibrations from the frantically beating tail of the terrified baitfish
flexible attachment to the fly is best to allow the gamefish to clamp
down on the hook without the propeller getting in the way. However,
metal propellers often have sharp edges that will cut through a
flexible monofilament shaft. I use a short metal shaft made from a 5/8-inch section of a straight pin or headpin; the shaft is connected to
the fly by a piece of (highly flexible) PBL as shown in the following
Note that the end of the metal shaft is bent back about 1/8 inch to form a retainer barb that keeps the propeller shaft in the tubing. Pliers with one slim round jaw work well. Make the retainer barb with a rough end, and larger than the ID of the tubing, so the tubing will stretch over the barb and then close around it for maximum retention.
I have caught many fish with proptail flies: steelhead, 3 species of salmon, char, bass, freshwater dorado, as well as many saltwater species—barracuda, jacks, tarpon, snook and even triggerfish. However, the metal props are heavy (about 7 grains for larger props), making the flies tail-heavy and harder to cast. Plastic props are much lighter, and will not cut through a flexible mono shaft.
Plastic propellers can be made using two metal propellers and strips of that obnoxious plastic that is used to package most modern electronics—the clear plastic that needs a mat knife and a lot of swearwords to open. Cut a rectangle of this stuff a little larger than a metal propeller; sandwich the plastic between two metal propellers, grabbing the sandwich off-center using a pair of pliers (the sandwich will gape quite a bit at the other side because the propellers are angled and swept back, whereas the plastic is flat). Dunk the sandwich in boiling water for a few seconds, squeezing the pliers so the plastic deforms somewhat toward the shape of the metal. Then grab the sandwich at the center—making sure the two props are still in alignment—dunk the sandwich in boiling water and squeeze hard. Quench with a brief dip in cold water. If done properly, the plastic will closely conform to the angles of the blades, and the raised “hub” of the blades will make a dimple in the plastic. Trim the edges of the plastic to the shape of the metal props (I trace around the metal with a Sharpie first) and don’t worry if the trimming is not exact; leave extra material around the hub area for more strength (you can glue on a sequin for even more strength). Poke a hole in the center of the hub with a pushpin. To attach the plastic propeller, I use the PBL and bent pin method, but a 30lb mono shaft will do. SoftGlass, a material similar to PBL but with 20% larger diameter, works well for larger flies. As in all propeller flies, the dressing must be short enough not to interfere with the prop, and weeds, filamentary algae and the like will also inhibit the prop.
Flies with plastic propellers look good in my test tank; they have been eaten by many salmon, as well as by dorado and tarpon, and I welcome anyone using these plastic proptail flies for other fish and sharing their results.