Welcome to Beginning Fly Tying

Part Two

Streamer Dry Hooks

"The Hook"
By Al Campbell

It seems strange that I'd start looking at equipment by looking at hooks. After all, there are many other important things to consider like vises, bobbins, scissors, etc. to look at.

Thorax Fly

So why hooks? Well, hooks are the things that hold the feathers, fur, hair and other fluff you use to create a fly. Hooks are designed for specific purposes. If you choose the right hook, your fly will be better proportioned and thus perform better in use. If you choose the wrong hook, you'll have a flawed fly and your success with that fly will likely be less than the success you would enjoy with a properly tied fly.

I won't spend a lot of time on barbed vs. barbless hooks. You'll have to decide the direction to travel there. After all, a simple squeeze from a small pair of pliers will turn a barbed hook into a barbless one. Rather than concentrate on hook design, I'd like to spend as much of this time as possible working toward tying quality flies. However, you'll need to know what the basic parts and shapes of a hook are if you're going to succeed in tying your own flies.

Hook Anatomy
Let's take a moment to look at the anatomy of a hook. First, the hook has a "gape" or gap. That's the distance between the shank (the part of the hook you tie flies on) and the point. Hook sizes are usually rated by the size of the gape. Second, the hook has a bend. Depending on the shape of the bend, it will have different qualities and be more suitable to certain types of flies. Third, the hook has an eye. The shape and angle of the eye help determine the possible uses for the hook. Finally, the hook has a shank. As I mentioned earlier, the shank is the length of the hook where the body of the fly is usually tied.

There are a lot of companies who make fly tying hooks. Many of their shapes overlap from company to company. For this reason, I'll usually list more than one hook for a specific fly. If your favorite hook company has a similar hook, feel free to use that one instead of the hook I list.

Dry Fly

Dry fly hooks come in several shapes and many sizes, just like the flies. Depending on their use, they might have a straight or a curved shank.

Standard Dry Fly Hook

Some dry fly hooks are longer than others to accommodate the variables in insect profiles.

Hopper Hook
Choose your hook according to its use. Many fly tying books list the appropriate hooks for you, but you aren't bound to any specific brand as long as the hook has a similar shape, length and size.

Lace Scud

Wet fly hooks are similar to dry fly hooks except they are usually heavier. Hook bends and shank lengths vary in these hooks depending on their designed use.

Nymph hooks vary in design more than any other type. Some are designed to tie scuds , others lend their design to stonefly nymphs and some are just good hooks for common nymphs like mayflies and caddis larva.

Try to select a nymph hook with a shape similar to the natural nymph you wish to imitate.

Streamer Hook

Streamers usually imitate minnows, leaches, crayfish or other swimming critters. Their hooks are usually longer than the rest and often have specific bends to accommodate the swimming pattern of the subject being copied. Some hooks are designed for use in poppers for bass and panfish. These have a hump in the shank to prevent any turning of the popper body.

Popper Hook As you can see, there are a lot of hooks out there. They each have their designed uses. No one can expect you to have all of them at first, but a minimum selection of the ones you will use the most is a good idea. Draught Hook Make a list of the flies you really want to tie at first, then purchase the hooks you need for those flies before you purchase any others. ~ Al Campbell

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