Hooks are the most important piece of the puzzle in my humble opinion. Most of us have had a fish bend out a hook, break a hook, or wriggle a hook out of its mouth leaving us cursing and saying “I will never use this hook again!” Let’s take some time and look over the differences between hooks, the benefits of different manufacturers, and when and how to appropriately use them in our tying endeavors.
Hooks come in a variety of different colors and styles, are made of various metals, and excel in different fishing and tying situations. Let’s start by going over the different parts of a hook. A hook consists of an eye, shank, gape, bend, and point. The eye of the hook comes straight, down, or up and changes the action of how a hook swims, and knot selection. The hook shank is where the body of the fly is tied and comes in various lengths from 3x short to 8x long. Shank length is important when choosing a hook for the fly you are tying. There are also a plethora of styles of bends to a hook, a few examples include the limerick bend, the sproat bend, York bend, and round bend. Each of these will influence the gape on your hook; the distance between the shank and the point (as seen in the picture). Hooks come with and without barbs. Barbs provide a little something extra to make sure the fish is going to stay pinned on the hook, but add extra stress to a fish when trying to remove the hook. The final piece of the puzzle is the hook point. There are even a variety of different hook points like Daiichi’s X-Point or Tiemco’s Super Point. Other manufacturers chemically sharpen the point so it can be as sharp as possible. It’s hard to sting a fish with a dull hook point! The weight of the hook is also a deciding point in hook selection. An example might be a 2x heavy hook or a 1x fine hook. This helps specify the strength and the weight of the hook. Fine wire hooks are good for dry flies and float better but you wouldn’t want to use one on a steelhead! Are we getting it? Let’s move on.
At Great Feathers, we carry hooks that we use, tie with, and have the utmost faith in. The manufacturers that we feel the strongest for include Mustad, Tiemco, Daiichi, Gaelic Supreme, Kamasan, and Partridge. We use and sell these hooks based on the different styles they have, the sharpness of the hook, the strength of the hook (what they are made of and how they are tempered and hardened), and the success and commitment of our customers. All of the hooks we use and sell are made of the finest steel, tempered to exact specifications, and finished, mostly with bronze, to negate rusting and hurting the strength of the hook. Mustad and Daiichi make a variety of different styles of quality hooks, and Partridge and Kamasan are our go to hooks for tying our traditional wet patterns, and Gaelic Supreme has a range of hard to find hooks that are hand-forged for tiers making specific traditional patterns, as well as a great signature series from the likes of Syl Nemes, Dave Brandt, and Carrie Stevens.
The best way to choose the right hook for the right pattern is to follow the recipe given for the pattern by the original tier, but if that is not available, here are a few hook charts:
Here is a link to a great tying hooks chart that also includes Partridge and Kamasan.