NIcholas’ Tube Intruder – Purple Thunder Step-by-Step Tying Instructions

In this time of self-isolation and Covid-19 challenges, my video camera is not performing to the expectations of excellence I would hope for.

So as a special treat, and also for anyone who maybe is out in the wilderness and unable to watch YouTube anyway, here is a step by step on how to tie my Purple Thunder Tube Intruder. I hope you enjoy this, because it is a devilish challenge for me to upload these images.

The Tube Intruder, as a fly style, has many ardent followers, and yet many tyers are. reluctant to take the proverbial stab at tying these flies on a tube platform. somehow it seems simpler, apparently, to go ahead and tie these flies on shanks, and usually with some kind of trailer wire, power Pro, Mono, or Fire-line to loop in a stinger hook.

I find this a curiosity, because tying on a tube saves the time, from the git-go, of measuring and lashing in the stinger loop. As often as I have heard stories about how a shank-tied Intruder is bomb-proof, and how simple it is to switch our hooks if they become dull or every so slightly bent-out, I’ve not found this to be the case. My personal experience has been to struggle when trying to push the stinger loop through the eye of the replacement hook.

While I’m entirely willing to chalk-up my fumble fingers to age and arthritis, I can assure anyone that they will never have the same issue with replacing hooks on tube-tied Intruders.

Some ardent advocates of tubes over shanks note that shanks sink more easily than tubes, getting down to the fish faster, and therefore put you  “in your face” zone for longer periods during the fly’s swing.

This critique is fair, if comparing the same fly tied on a bare shank versus a bare plastic tube.

Purple Thunder overcomes the tendency of a plastic tube to “buoy” the fly by the addition of two brass cones: one at the rear station and one at the shoulder station.

These two cones serve to balance the fly, allow it to sink at a modest rate, and swim in the same zone as a similarly dressed shank fly with light dumbbell eyes would.

This Intruder is equally effective fished for steelhead, and chinook, and will be eaten by the occasional Chum also.

The fly recipe is listed here for convenience, and i will provide tying notes and tips as we proceed.

This fly is large, between 3.5 and 4.5 inches long. depending on the artist/angler’s tastes.

Tube:  Nanotube, preferably the sink version if available
Thread: a stout thread is preferable when forming spun loops. so the Danville’s 210 D flat waxed black is good, as is the Lagartun 150D black
Butt: spin a neat bump of Senyo’s EAT-A-Peach
Rear cone: large, gold (adjust using a medium or small cone if you prefer
Rear collar: Blue Arctic Fox
Rear collar: Montana Fly Comp[any barred purple and Blue Ostrich
Waist: Hot pink Estaz or cactus chenille
Shoulder: Purple arctic fox or Turkey Flats
Shoulder collar. MFC barred ostrich pieces, staggered around the tube
Front shoulder collar finish: Blue large Guinea feather
Wings: These should be long, as far back as the bend of the hook and I prefer Ewing saddles over all others
Finish cone: Pro sport fisher hot pink, large


With the tube secure, dub a bright butt using Senyo’s Fusion Eat-A-Peach, and then add a gold Pro Sportfisher cone in front of the dubbed trigger point.


Spin a collar of Blue Arctic Fox and wind in front of the gold cone. The cone will serve two matters: adding a little weight, and keeping the collar from collapsing around the tube.


Add a halo of Montana Fly Company barred purple Ostrich.


Add butt station trigger points of Pro Sportfisher Jungle Cock on both sides of the tube.


With the JC secure, add a body of hot pink estaz or cactus chenille.


Tie off, making sure you have sufficient tube remaining to finish the fly. You can shorten the body if needed.


Use your dubbing twirler to create a simple composite loop of Copper ice dub and Senyo’s Predator wrap. Wind this in front of the body.


Spin a collar of Purple Arctic Fox and wind onto the tube. This should be considerably denser than the rear collar at the butt station of the fly.


After winding the purple collar, prepare Hareline barred purple ostrich or some similar material that you will add in clumps evenly around the tube.


With the ostrich all around the tube, prepare to add lateral scale or your preferred flash to the fly.


Now it is time to add Pro Sport Fisher Pro Jungle Cock to the fly.


This fly will be topped with two or four grizzly saddle feathers. I use natural, blue, or pink for this fly. All of these color combinations work well, I Prefer the Ewing saddles but others will make satisfactory substitutions.


Before tying in the grizzly hackle tips, I add a blue Guinea feather to the collar.


Now, with the fly nearly complete, it is time to.whip finish, cement and prepare to add the cone.


Here is the perfect hot pink metal cone to finish the spectacular Purple Thunder Intruder.  

4-05-20 Book – diary of a fly fisher DSC_3501 copyThis tube intruder is rigged with an OPST swing hook, but it can also be rigged with similar high quality hooks by Gamakatsu, Aquatalon, or Ahrex, or Owner, in sizes 2, 1 or 1/0  – if the quarry is chinook. The hook is rigged to swim in the down position, because this is the best means with this pattern of assuring that the fly will swim with thr wing in the dorsal attitude.


I normally think of fishing this fly in big water, like the Clackamas, Sandy, Umpqua in winter flow,  lower Rogue, and similar places. I did not have this fly when I was routinely fishing the main-stem Santiam, but it would have been a very good choice in that big water. At roughly 4.5 inches, this fly makes a dominant presence, and it is only suitable for swinging in our coastal rivers when the flows are full enough to make the steelhead feel safe.


Meanwhile, you may tie this fly as shown exactly, or perhaps you may take the liberty to adapt the recipe to suit your own materials and tastes.

I wish for you health and good humor in this era when we thoughtfully take extra time to cherish our friends, co-workers, and family.

Jay Nicholas – April 19 2020














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