The Dolly Lama Tube Fly ;


I never heard of a Dolly Lamma until about 14 years ago when I saw some people hooking a bunch of fish on the other side of a large river from me. I overheard one call out to the other “What are you getting all them on” and the fish catcher answered Dolly Lama!

Me? I had no clue but I could see that whatever it was it was big and seemed heavy based on the cast he had to use and the splat the fly made when it landed. I did what most would do and the next trip into town I stopped at the fly shop and had a look through the flies for sale annd sure enough there they were.

This is a store bought Dolly Lama

They are 2 strips of Bunny Fur with a trailing hook lashed to the fur. You can also see the rather large cone head that takes them down. If you are casting a 20 foot Skagit head with some T material on as a tip this may not be much of a challenge. Guys like me using Scandi lines? That’s where it gets rough. Once that bunny fur gets wet the weight of both the water and the cone head coupled with wind resistance presents certain technical difficulties no matter how well you adapt to changes in conditions. The flies catch the heck out of fish but they proved to be a royal pain on my rods and lines.

I use primarily 4 rods; a Hardy Swift 11 1/2 foot loaded with a 475 grain Beulah Elixir line having a 37 foot head and fused running line behind it. Next is a Hardy Marksman 2 T thirteen foot that uses a Steve Godshall Super Scandi line, 45 foot head at 600 grains with fuesed runner behind. Thrid is a Sage One 13 foot 6 inch that uses the same exact line as the Marksman rod. Last is a Sage X 14 foot rated #8 that doesn’t like the 600 grain Scandi so it is fitted with a Ballistic Launch 540 grain at 47 feet with fused runner.

The short Hardy actually throws a Dolly Lama better than the other three. It has to be the taper configuration of the line, at any rate it is still laborious casting. So it became clear that I needed a Dolly Lama that would catch fish but could be cast with my rods and custom leader rigs. If you don’t know what I mean by custom leaders just scroll down the blog until you find a video, that’ll clear things up. Where was I? Oh yeah, the fly……….

That one on the bottom has been getting things done and this post is going to go long now because I did a step by step on tying it. They are light enough to fish all day without frustration over weight, they are less air resistant and best of all they sink!

Here we go: first off I tie these on Pro Tube Micro Tubes like the one below

Step Two – slip on a piece of clear junction tubing about 1 1/2″ long, there is a cool little flange on the tube that’ll hold it well.

Step Three – Guess what, junction tube comes in coils so you need to straighten things out. Slip things onto your mandrel and break out the lighter. Rotate the tube and apply heat. Once it is good and hot gently stretch it backward and hold it a few seconds.

It will now be straight.

Step Four – Slip on a Pro Bullet weight of about 20 grains / size large I use Black 0/8 thread for these

Step Five – Instead of Bunny Fur I use Craft Fur synthetic and the rabbits love me for it :)

Secure a nice clump of the Olive to the top of your tube and white at the bottom as shown, be sure to pluck the equivalent of under fur out to reduce bulk at the head area.

Step Six – Now you’re ready for the lateral line stripe.

Just one strand will do both sides.

Step Seven – Add a nice batch of Peacock Herls as long as the hair body as topping over the Olive hair. At this point soak the fur and feather herls with cement so that the entire works are bonded together.

Now trim things up a bit and begin forming a head.

You can begin to see how these stack up to the original now I hope.

Your last step is to trim the excess tube off the front and carefully rotate as you melt it back against the formed head. This holds everything together for keeps.

To finish this up I should explain how to rig these on your leader. I find that a Jam Knot is the ticket here. You get good at tying them with the right length loop as seen below.
The idea behind the knot is that the knot will slide through the junction tubing but not be able to pull into the Micro Tube due to a smaller diameter. So what’s with that? Tow things at play with this rig, one is that you can make the hook ride right at the very tail of the streaming & undulating materials as seen below………..

The second advantage is that when you have a fish hooked and in the net you just grab the tube fly and slide it up the leader leaving only the hook in the jaw area. With big hairy flies it can be very hard to actually find the hook once the fibers are into the fishes teeth.

Last but not least, if you get snagged and are forced to break off due to depth of water………. When the knot breaks it will be jammed into the tube at the rear. You lose the hook but get the fly back about 80% of the time. I love this system, the flies I use now are easy to make, they catch fish and even if I hit a submerged tree I stand a good chance of getting the fly back. You have to take the flies home and dislodge the knot from the tube with the mandrel or bodkin but you at least still have it :)

That’s that.

[Edit] It is worth saying that if you are in Alaska you can find Pro Sportfisher Tube components at Mossys Fly Shop on Diamond Blvd. In the lower 48 The Caddis Fly Shop has a great selection of tube components. I’ve tried HMH tubes but the Pro Tubes are the easiest to work with in my opinion.