Gear Review: The Tacky Tube

Tacky Fly Fishing has risen to fame in the fly fishing world with their revolutionary fly boxes. The majority of guides I know use Tacky boxes to store their flies, and I just recently made the switch to all-Tacky, all the time, for storing my flies.

I’m not going to waste time in this review going over Tacky’s patent-pending slit-silicone insert. That topic has been covered in great detail already.

What I will talk about, however, is Tacky’s newest product offering – the Tacky Tube.

Tacky’s office is literally two blocks away from my home here in Utah, so I walked over there one afternoon to meet with Shaun Curtis, a member of the Tacky team. I wanted to know more about this new tube I’d heard anglers discussing and Shaun generously offered his time to me.

The Tacky Tube is supposed to replace the old fly patch – that giant piece of wool on your dad’s old fishing vest. These days, fly patches seem to be lost altogether on modern vests, and I can’t say that’s the worst thing in the world. They weren’t the most effective tools for drying flies.

But the Tacky Tube is. Featuring super-strong magnets to keep it closed and secure, and their patent-pending silicone insert, the Tube can hold as many flies as you can stuff into it, and hangs easily off the vest or sling pack without being a disturbance.

The Tacky Tube. Image courtesy Tacky Fly Fishing.

Now the question to be asked is this – is the Tube just another gear gimmick, like we’ve seen so often in fly fishing? Or is it actually a functional, solid piece of equipment that’s simple to use and eliminates the need to be carefully replacing flies in your box when tying on new flies?

After three weeks and one long trip to Oregon, I can safely say the Tacky Tube is one of my favorite new pieces of gear I’ve received in the past few years – and I’ve done a lot of gear reviews.

Now, let’s dig into the nitty-gritty and discover what makes the Tube such a great product.

What Works

It holds flies securely

Obviously, Tacky’s silicone insert is a huge part of why the Tube is a good piece of gear. I slipped, stumbled, and ambled my way through five rivers and one Rocky Mountain hurricane while testing the Tube, and I didn’t drop a single fly.

Strong magnets keep flies from escaping the Tube, and keep it securely fastened shut. Image courtesy Tacky Fly Fishing.

The two magnets in the Tube are also pretty stinkin’ amazing. If you drop a fly down the tube – say, a size 26 parachute midge (yes, I fish those stupid small flies) – when you intended to slide it into the silicone, the magnets catch it and prevent it from falling through the entire tube.

I’m serious. It works probably 95% of the time. The few instances where the magnets didn’t catch the fly was when I dropped the fly straight down the middle of the Tube, purposefully trying to see if I could escape the Tube’s seemingly willow-like fly-grabbing powers.

Dries flies quickly

The advantage to using a fly patch, at least for dry flies, was that you could rub them against the wool and dry them off quickly. But with the rise of floatant products like Frog’s Fanny, the need to dry flies off via a wool patch has disappeared. The Tube, with its open construction, allows flies to dry quickly. When I was in Oregon over the past weekend, I really appreciated that aspect of the Tube when the hatch would change from midges to BWOs to midges again. I could use the same three or four flies, knowing they’d be air-dried and ready to go when the hatch changed.

Doesn’t get in the way

The anglers who still wear fishing vests seem to be in the minority these days – or at least, they do on the rivers I fish. I love a vest, and haven’t found a sling pack yet I’m willing to spend $100+ on. I can get a solid vest for $20 from Wal-Mart, and that’s really all you need.

Vests and sling packs aside (I have nothing against them, by the way, I’m just not a fan) the Tube doesn’t get in the way regardless of what you attach it to while fishing. It’s not too big, or too small – it’s just the right size to dangle and not be annoying. Tacky knocked the sizing dimensions out of the park with this product.

What doesn’t work

Limited amount of storage space

One of the reasons I love the Tube is also an area I think it could use some improvement. I love the fact that it’s small and doesn’t get in the way while fishing, but its storage space is limited. Granted, the storage space on a dry fly patch is limited as well, so I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here to find things I think Tacky could improve upon with this product, but I would like to see a larger option offered in the future. Something along the lines of their Big Bug Box, but in Tube form, would be great.

Clasps aren’t as strong as they could be

Tacky had to walk a fine line here between creating strong clasps to keep the Tube securely shut, while also not making it too strong that you can’t pop it open with one hand. That being said, the Tube did pop open on its own several times, and when I had multiple small flies clinging to the inside magnets, I got worried that I’d lose a few.

Final word

The Tacky Tube is a great piece of fly fishing equipment, and for any angler who fishes dries as much as I do (70% of the time, I’d say) it’s a must-have item. It’s functional, affordable ($18.00 at Fishwest), and doesn’t try to do more than it should. I’d highly recommend the Tube to every fly angler, especially with the spring dry fly season fast approaching.

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Posted in:Gear Reviews

Spencer Durrant

Spencer is a fly fishing writer from Utah and author of the soon-to-be-published YA novel, “Learning to Fly.” He’s a regular columnist for the Standard-Examiner, where he authors the monthly Trout Bum column, in addition to writing the Cutthroat Chronicles for Fishwest. His writing has appeared in Hatch Magazine, On The Fly Magazine, The Orvis Fly Fishing Blog, and If he’s not on the river, he’s at home tying flies or writing. Connect with him on Twitter or Instagram @Spencer_Durrant.

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