Full Disclosure - i'm in no way affiliated with the company that produces these products. I purchased them for personal use and opted to write this review
Fish Skulls have been on the market for a while, but two new products were recently released at the IFTD show In New Orleans
1 Sculpin Helmets and 2 Articulated shanks
So i purchased some of these products and tied up a couple of patterns based on what some others had done with them.
First the Shanks
I bought the 35mm shanks, the middle size of the range (25mm and 55mm are the other lengths)
Here is one attached to a size 2 Gamakatsu B10S hook.
There are various attachment options depending on whether you like the hook at the front of the fly or on the tail, and the options are illustrated on the packet for easy configuration. On such option is to attach a longer shank to the 25mm shank, and tie the 25mm shank to your hook.
The loops on the shanks are perpendicular to eachother, therefore, you get perfect alignment for you articulation point with the eye of the trailing hook or shank to provide the maximal amount of movement and orientation of the body of the fly.
Here are a couple patterns i tied with the shanks
Some Red Rockets, with the trail hook attached to the shank at the front.
These shanks are particularly useful for special regulations waters where only one hook point is allowed per fly or per line. Using the shank allows tying of articulated flies without cutting the point off one hook. Further, it being a metal loop, the strength of the articulation point is greatly increased, thus providing a stronger and more reliable joint than say spider wire, diamond braid or any other joining material used in articulated flies.
The other new item i purchased was the Sculpin helmet. Also available in a couple of sizes and two colors.
Here i have the brown size small.
The fly I tied here is a variation of the meat helmet sculpin by Rich Strolis.
Originally tied by Rich with body fur and the hook at the front, i tied it with Palmer chenille and the hook at the back in this case Size 1 Gamakatsu B10S hook, with an articulated shank at the front.
The helmet works in the same manner as the original fish skull, whereby you tie your fly, leaving enough space at the end of the hook or articulated shank to attach the helmet with superglue.
Eyes are included with each packet of helmets.
Like the fish skulls, the helmets are weighted more to the bottom of the helmet, so the hook can be tied such that the point is always up if the helmet is orientated such that the point of the hook and the heavy underside are on opposite sides of the hook/shank. This allows deep pool fishing with the flies and a reduced chance of snagging on the bottom.
Finally i also tied some fish skull pattern, the first blurry on is Senyo's Shaggy Minnow with Fish Skull (it doesnt usually have the fish skull)
and the second is a pattern called river rabbit which is listed on the Fish Skulls website
Over all these products were extremely easy to use. They are affrodable, about the same price a a packet of hooks, and they add a new dimension to fly tying.
Look for them at your local fly tying store (mine had them when i was there this weekend) or you can purchase them online at Flymen Fishing Company
The guys there are really helpful, i had to call them as there was a web browser problem and i couldnt complete checkout. They were thankful for the support and took payment over the phone. I ordered on monday, and had the packet on thursday.