Sunday, May 12, 2019

Fly Product...TLTFF Review of The Chum Bucket Fly Tester

Photo via Jason Haddix on IG of double tube Chum Bucket (@watersedgeflyco)

There was one item as a fly tier I had on my wish list for awhile that, at the time I could not justify the cost for nor find available when it did seem that eventually came off the market.

A fly tester.

Once FlyMen decided they would no longer carry their $285 Fish-Skull Fly Tester, I was on the hunt to find a used one for sale or something I could use in its stead. This would be one to test out new ties or run some simulation tests of tried and true patterns to see how they look to the fish I was planning on chasing. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to want to let theirs go and they were impossible to find at the shows as dealers had sold out.

Thats when I was introduced to Kent Christensen of Pristine Plastics by friend Jason Haddix of Waters Edge Fly Co. Jason and Kent recognized the void that had been left and the remaining demand for a fly tester...thats how the Chum Bucket came to be.

A little bit about Kent and Pristine Plastics...

We fabricate a variety of plastics, most popular are acrylics and poly-carbonate. Our specialty shop has the ability to work with all available thicknesses. We can also customize your design with one or multiple bends. They specialize in:

Custom AquariumsAquariums & Filtration Systems - Specializing In Live Reefs

Fly FishingFly Testing Tanks, Commercial Fly Trays, Fly Tying Benches & Tool Caddy's, Fly Tying Material Holders  

AdvertisingSigns, Tabletop Displays, Awards & Trophy's, etc.

Once we started to chat about the product I had been looking for, it was pretty obvious that Kent's Chum Bucket single tube tank was it. There are two different models offered currently from Kent, a single tube and double tube (double seen above, currently being used by Jason for shows and testing). He has worked in plastics and custom acrylics for years and put together exactly what Jason knew was needed in the commercial and recreational space...a quality tank that wouldn't break the bank while keeping necessary functions for accurate testing of flies from fresh to salt, topwater to deepwater.

Immediately after receiving the Chum Bucket single tube tank, I had an order come through from a friend for a few dozen flies for Chesapeake Stripers. The mixed bag of ties included patterns from size 1 Clousers up to bigger meaty baitfish on 5/0 hooks.

Single Tube Chum Bucket Slow Mo from TLTFF on Vimeo.

Before I decided to crank out the order I had received, I set up the Chum Bucket so that I could run through every first tie of each pattern to ensure my wraps and material groupings were doing exactly what I wanted them to. While setting up I ran through the tank to acclimate myself to the features and chatted back and forth with Kent to make sure I understood each function to take full advantage of the Chum Bucket.

The single tube Chum Bucket comes with:

-Custom Acrylic Chum Bucket tank
-Single propulsion pump
-Two magnetic cubes for line anchor points
-Care and maintenance instructions (see below)

The pump is a single propulsion pump with an adjustable flow intake valve. This allows you to adjust the intake and therefore output from wide open to completely closed. I played around with this up and down to simulate a stripping motion which gives you a pretty awesome variable impression of your fly underwater beyond the constant flow. *Disclaimer, photography of acrylic is difficult.

The pump fits down and locks into two custom slots built in to the back wall of the tank (shown below). The slots allow you to run the pump with the flow output higher or lower in the water column of the tube. I prefer to have it flipped with the intake facing down and outflow more towards the bottom of the tube (opposite of photo below). Adjusting the height of the pump allows you to play around with flow through the tube so you can accommodate different weights of the fly being tested. To lock the pump in at different heights, a simple clothes pin clamping the power cord to the edge of the tank can do the trick.

The magnetic cubes are magnetized to two anchor magnets built in to the tank. One is on the bridge above the end of the tank, opposite of the pump. This anchor point is perfect for running flies on top or subsurface above the tube, where water returns back to the pump. The second magnetic anchor point is directly behind and slightly above the pump. This is perfect for running flies down into the tube. I have been using small tippet (5x) for testing almost all flies to give them the most free-flowing motion possible, it also anchors well under magnets.

The water leaves the outflow and shoots directly down the single tube at the bottom of the tank and water column, maintaining a consistent, channeled flow through the tube. The flow is then redirected through angling up at the end of the tank and immediately back towards the pump at the top of the water column. Below you can see the tube, which is about 8.5" in length by about 3" in diameter and with the flow wide open, you can see the turbine effect it has as it returns towards the pump (you can also see the top anchor magnet).

Being made of acrylic, this tank can last an eternity if maintained properly, which takes minimal effort. The cleaning process is pretty simple, keep it clean by wiping it down. As with acrylic fish tanks, if water is left stagnant or unchanged for a period of time, it can have a film build up. Kent recommends emptying the tank out once every few weeks and giving it a solid wipe down with a warm, damp microfiber towel to avoid any scratching. There are a few don'ts associated with cleaning the Chum Bucket...NEVER use a towel or cloth you use with other household items, they can retain dirt and chemicals, NEVER use glass cleaning products that contain ammonia or chemicals (even if they are environmentally friendly, organic, or scent-free), NEVER use scouring compounds or any type of solvents. If you do need something other than a towel and water to clean, Kent recommends Novus 1 which can be found affordably on Amazon.

When discussing tools every serious tier should have on their desk, we can all agree it comes down to quality bobbins, a vise that fits the needs of your tying/fishing portfolio, scissors, hair brush, a hair stacker, whip finisher...but I would argue, after this review, that every serious modern tier should add in a fly tester and more specifically, The Chum Bucket. The difference in a bend rod and a skunked day could come down to fly action when targeting most fish that tend to change their appetites based on something as simple as the way a fly moves. This cuts out that confusion and allows you to trim or add to a tie after a brief observation from an added tool right there in your tying room.

Pricing, this is where is gets good. The single tube Chum Bucket sells via Jason at Water's Edge at $79, while the double tube is at $129. Yea...go ahead and read that again, then hit up Jason via phone (970) 310-1393 or via email at as he is currently the wholesaler for Kent's Chum Buckets.

The Chum Bucket fly tester that Kent has made goes above and beyond what I had expected. When paired with the extremely affordable price (comparatively), and added features that were missed in previous models and iterations, I can honestly say this is one of my favorite reviews to date. This product alone added a new dynamic to my tying bench and quite possibly added to the success I had this Fall on the Bay and local rivers.

For more offerings including fly displays, epoxy turning wheels and more, give Kent a call at (970) 776-9228 or shoot him an email at Kent is an awesome and innovative person to work with and is constantly asking for feedback. Being a small shop, he is able to customize your order any way you see fit from sizing changes (away from the single tube's 19" long x 7" tall x 4" wide build) all the way to added features. I highly recommend working with him to customize your ideas!

Stay tuned for a second review coming soon of Kent's new Flapper Material Holder.



  1. I'd be interested in seeing these tests applied to some of the large articulated flies, such as those at the URL below. Do they really have the action they purport they do, or does the rear hook just drag the back of the body down. Or for insights on how quickly you need to fish these to make them effective. I try to vary my speeds and strip in different patterns, but don't think I've had any more success with articulated flies than with non-articulated, which I do just fine with. Any thoughts on this welcome. Thanks, Mark

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  23. The Chum Bucket Fly Tester is a great product for those who want to test their flies before they go out fishing. This fly tester is easy to use and gives you accurate results so you can make sure your flies are up to par. I like that it comes with a lanyard so you can easily carry it around your neck. The Chum Bucket Fly Tester is a great product and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to test their flies before they go fishing.

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