“Now you must understand that the hardest and most difficult thing in producing your tackle is the making of your hooks. In order to make these, it is necessary for you to have a set of sharp, thin and lightly beaten files, a seamy iron clamp, and a pair of long and small pincers, a somewhat thick and hard knife, an anvil, and a small hammer.” - Dame Juliana Berners
When Dame Juliana Berners penned those words in A Treatyse of Fysshynge With an Angle in the late 15th century, the Angle she referred to was the hook. The hook is what sets anglers apart from fishermen, and is an integral part of our sport. Luckily, today we don't have to make our own hooks. Nevertheless, choosing the right hook for your fishing situation remains one of the hardest parts of fly fishing.
Not all hooks are created equal. When looking at flies, make sure your hook is up to the task. After all it is your point of contact with the fish, and arguably the most important part of the setup.
Designed with the lightest material possible to help a fly float, this hook uses a 'model perfect bend' that is smooth and uniform, with the hook point parallel to the shank. Most dry fly hooks have a down-turned eye, which is a tradition from the time when anglers would attach their tippet to the shank and not the hook eye. The down-turned eye also helps the fly ride hook point down.
Sample Model: Umpqua U001 - sizes #8 - #24
Fly Pattern: Royal Wulff
This is a more modern hook design consisting of a bent shank with a 'model perfect bend'. This combination gives the hook a slightly up turned hook point, and the nymph a more life-like appearance in the water. This double bend design can make it difficult to push an oversized bead onto the hook. In this instance, pinching the barb first can make it easier to add a bead.
Sample Model: TMC 200R - sizes #4 - #22
Fly Pattern: Yellow Stonefly
Characterized by a sproat bend with a slightly upturned hook point, this hook style was traditionally used for deer hair poppers and other bass flies. This bend provides anglers with an extra wide gap that is perfect for fish with hard mouths, and flies tied with lots of material. Today, this hook style has become the preferred choice for streamer tiers crafting monstrous multi-hooked flies.
Sample Model: TMC 8089 - sizes #2 - #12
Fly Pattern: Deer Hair Popper
Usually forged and not bent to shape, and made out of stainless steel or plated to prevent them from rusting, saltwater hooks are designed to be stiff and strong. They come in a variety of shank lengths, have a straight/ring eye, and are extra heavy to keep up with saltwater game fish. Although most come chemically sharpened, when fishing salt it is handy to keep a hook file nearby to resharpen.
Sample Model: TMC 811S - sizes #3/0 - #8
Fly Pattern: Seaducer