I am a great fan of very slimline fly bodies, particularly for sea trout fishing at night. In 1999, I devised the Needle Fly, the slimmest of all lures, for late nights on the River Earn in Perthshire. More recent years have seen the development of Needle Tubes for both salmon and sea trout fishing. The slimmest of these have an outside diameter of only 1.5mm and provide a more durable and perhaps more practical alternative to the Needle Fly. Not as slim perhaps as a Needle Fly but slimmer than any other commercially produced lined fly tying tubes. Being made from polished stainless steel, the kind used in the making of hypodermic needles, they sink more readily than aluminium tube flies but fish a little higher, and more attractively, than the heavier copper and brass tubes. Needle Tube flies have a comparable sink rate and similar slim profile to flies dressed previously on Waddington shanks, but with the important benefit that the hook is easily changed on the needle tube fly. Needle tubes are also much easier to dress than Waddington or snake lures. In lengths from 20 to 40 mm, the Needle Tube Fly has become my favourite lure for late night sea trout, taking the majority of my catch in recent years.
One unforgettable night springs immediately to mind, showing that the superb Spey sea trout fishing of yesteryear is not necessarily a thing of the past. It was the night, or rather morning, of 23rd June 2014. By midnight, I was on a favourite pool on the Strathspey Angling Improvement Association water of the River Spey raring to go, although my catches so far that season had been modest. There had been rain during the day but it had little effect on the river, which was running at about 3 inches above summer level. A fairly calm night with very good cloud cover made for perfect conditions. My first cast was made just after midnight. The fly was a simple one inch black and silver needle tube, fished on a floating line. By 2am, I had caught eight sea trout, all very fresh with an average weight of around two and a half pounds. For once, I was in the right place at the right time with the right fly. All fish were returned except one kept for the table. I stopped fishing just after two in the morning. I could have fished on till daybreak and added to the total but I had caught enough.
The Needle Tube Fly has also done well for other sea trout anglers in the British Isles, and proved effective also for salmon and steelhead internationally, with many Needle Tube Successes reported.