A pile of fly tying hooks

A guide to fly tying hooks

Fly tying hook chart

Is the hook type important?

Tying imitations of flies, insects, baitfish, and other aquatic creatures often requires that we use a specific type of hook for that fly. There are various hook types, each designed to suit specific fly patterns and fishing situations.  Let’s explore the different types of hooks, highlight popular brands, and see some examples of flies commonly tied on each type of hook.

In almost every case, the hook suggested in a pattern will have multiple alternatives by different brands. In my opinion, as long as it’s a quality brand that makes quality hooks, and a similar size and shape, the specific hook used in the original pattern isn’t 100% necessary. This is a great comparison chart for choosing alternative hooks.

Dry Fly Hooks:

Dry fly hooks are designed to support flies that float on the water’s surface. They have a standard wire gauge to maintain buoyancy and allow the angler to present the fly delicately. Popular brands for dry fly hooks include Mustad, Tiemco, and Daiichi. Common dry fly patterns tied on these hooks include:

elk hair caddis fly

Elk Hair Caddis (Tiemco TMC 100): A classic and effective caddis imitation, perfect for imitating adult caddisflies skating on the surface.

Parachute royal wulff fly pattern

Parachute Royal Wulff (TMC 100): An all-time favorite, A slight variation on the original Royal Wulff, this parachute version is no better or worse, but probably a little easier to see in rougher water, which is where the Royal Wulff really shines anyway.

Nymph Hooks:

Nymph hooks are designed for subsurface imitations, such as nymphs, larvae, and other aquatic insects. They have a heavier wire gauge to help the fly sink. Brands like Dai-Riki, Hanak, and Umpqua offer reliable nymph hooks. Common nymph patterns tied on these hooks include:

Pheasant Tail Nymph (Dai-Riki 135): A staple in any nymph box, this pattern imitates various mayfly nymphs and can be tied in different sizes and colors.

Hare’s Ear Nymph (Daiichi 1560): Another versatile nymph pattern, mimicking a range of aquatic insects, particularly caddisfly and mayfly nymphs.

Jig Hooks:

Jig hooks have gained popularity for their unique design, which positions the hook eye at an angle to create a jigging action. This type of hook is effective for Euro-nymphing and other techniques. Brands like Fulling Mill, Firehole Outdoors, and Hends produce quality jig hooks. Common jig fly patterns tied on these hooks include:

perdigon fly

Perdigon (Fulling Mill FM5055): A sleek and heavy nymph pattern designed for rapid sinking, perfect for Euro-nymphing in fast-flowing streams.

Rainbow Warrior (Firehole Sticks 516): An attractive and effective pattern that can imitate a variety of small aquatic insects, often tied in flashy colors.

Streamer Hooks:

Streamer hooks are robust and designed for larger patterns that imitate baitfish, leeches, and other prey. They have a strong wire to handle aggressive fish. Renowned brands for streamer hooks include Gamakatsu, Ahrex, and Partridge. Common streamer patterns tied on these hooks include:

Woolly Bugger (Daiichi 1750): A versatile and widely-used streamer pattern that can resemble leeches, minnows, and more, making it a go-to for many species.

Balanced Leech Olive

Balanced Leech (Daiichi 4647): This is an extremely successful fly created by Phil Rowley and was originated from the Pyramid Lake fishery with phenomenal success. The flies can be used effectively in both lakes and rivers where leech patterns are utilized and effective for trout, smallies, steelhead and other large predatory fish.

Saltwater Hooks:

Saltwater hooks are designed to withstand the harsh conditions of saltwater environments and the powerful strikes of saltwater species. Brands like Tiemco, Gamakatsu, and Mustad offer durable saltwater hooks. Common saltwater fly patterns tied on these hooks include:

Clouser Minnow (Tiemco TMC 811S or Daiichi 2546): A versatile and effective saltwater pattern that imitates various baitfish, making it a must-have for saltwater fly fishing.

Crazy Charlie (Mustad C68SZ): A classic bonefish pattern that’s lightweight, yet highly effective for shallow water fishing.

Specialty Hooks:

Klinkhammer Hooks:

Klinkhammer hooks, designed by Dutch fly tyer Hans van Klinken, are unique and versatile. They feature a down-turned eye that allows emergers to sit in the surface film. These hooks are great for emerger patterns and other specialized flies. Hans van Klinken’s original Klinkhammer hook is a must-try, but you can also find similar designs from other brands, such as Tiemco. A famous fly tied on Klinkhammer hooks is the:

Klinkhammer (Tiemco TMC 200R): A highly effective emerger pattern that imitates mayflies in the process of hatching, presenting a vulnerable and tempting target to rising fish.

In conclusion, selecting the right hook is essential for successful fly tying. The hook each serve a specific purpose, catering to different fly patterns and fishing scenarios. Familiarizing yourself with these hook types and brands will enhance your fly tying skills and help you create effective and lifelike flies that entice fish to strike. Happy tying and tight lines!


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