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Thread: Choosing a hook question????

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Upper Mojave Desert

    Default Choosing a hook question????

    I did a search, learned a lot about hooks, but it didn't answer the question I was looking. When you are going to tie a new fly do you always use the exact hook that the receipe calls? OR, will any "dry" hook, "nymph" hook, etc, do? Sizes good of course.
    Really appreciate hearing what each of you do.

  2. Default Re: Choosing a hook question????

    As long as the size, lenght, and weight match yes you can. Ofcourse by weight I mean a dry fly tied on a 2x heavy nymph hook is gonna take a hell of alot of past to float it lol

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Default Re: Choosing a hook question????


    Good question. I mix it up all the time. There really isn't any consistency between different hook companies and their model numbers, so if you see a pattern listing a Mustad, and you just have TMC's or another brand it can be hard to know what to use. Here's a conversion chart to see comparable hooks from different companies and what hooks are typically used for what..

    Here's a good resource for you:
    Fly Hook Comparison Chart

    and while I’m there, here’s one for bead sizes and Mustad hooks. Not all hooks accept beads well.

    In addition to using comparable hooks for listed patterns, you can also mix it up a little using stuff you have to tie different things. For instance sometimes I'll tie soft hackles or nymphs on a dry fly hook if thats what I have.

    What I try to do is to make sure the shank length is a close match to get the size right. As I understand it back in the day they had hooks in different sizes, including odd numbers, which you don't generally see anymore. A size 12 2xl nymph hook would have a shank length of a hook 2 sizes up, counting the old odd size 11, that would make it the same length as a standard 10.

    So, some of the "weird" things I do, would be to tie size small nymphs on a size 18 and 20 dry fly hook, which would be the same size as 20 and 22 2xl nymphs, but with a bigger gape for better hooking.

    Another example would be our large Eastern Green Drakes. Fly patterns typically call for a size 8 dry fly hook, but i use a size 12 4xl streamer hook. The shank is the right length, but the hook weighs less and is easier to float. (Even though it's a streamer hook, the wire is thinner than a size 8 1x fine dry fly hook). I just use wings the length of the standard size 8 (=12 4xl shank) and size 8 hackle to keep the proportions right.

    Another example might be a nymph pattern tied on a 3906 or 3906B. If I want to tie it in a bead head, I use a smaller size 2xl nymph hook like a 9671 because it accepts beads easier.

    I just started using a light wire scud hook (TMC 2487) and have been tying a lot of emerger patterns on it instead of a dry fly hook called for in some recipes. It gives the fly a nice curved look, but will still (hopefully) ride in the film.

    So feel free to mix it up. As long as you have an idea of what the basic properties of the hook are in the recipe, and/or you know what look you're going for, you can just use whatever you have. If you run out of a size 12 2xl nymph hook, use a size 10 std dry hook and you're in business. You can put a couple wraps of lead, extra wraps of ribbing wire, or a bead on it before building the rest of the fly if you want it to go deep.

    If you have a pattern recipe in mind listing a specific hook, and want to know some other choices, based on the hooks you already have, just holler. I'm sure you'll get a lot of options.

    Hope this helps.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Upper Mojave Desert

    Default Re: Choosing a hook question????

    Thank You guys. Really appreciate the info. The "hook chart" got printed for future reference. That's a good one. AND, thanks for the offer to answer any future questions peregrines.

  5. Default Re: Choosing a hook question????

    Hello jimmie, something I do but that I don't know if anyone else ever does is to 'under' or 'over' tye the pattern if I don't have the right size hook from the recipe.

    By way of explanation, 'under tied' would be if you wanted a size 14 fly but only had size 12 hooks, just tye the pattern as if you were tying on a size 14 hook. I've never known the fish to notice. The converse would be true of 'over tying'...if you wanted a size 12 fly, and only have size 14 hooks, tye as if the hook were a size 14.

    I know some will say the 12x14 will look funny and it sure does, but once again the fish aren't laughing anymore once they take a taste !



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Wasilla / Skwentna, Alaska
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Choosing a hook question????


    I generally stick to the originators recommendation for the hook, unless the hook is hard to come by. In reality if the pattern says Mustad and the store you're in sells Tiemco or Diichi, then just go with size and type of hook.

    I use a classic loop eyed streamer hook for stuff that calls for a Mustad 3665A and the authorities have never came for me yet.


  7. #7

    Default Re: Choosing a hook question????

    When first starting out, I tried to stay true to the recommended hook size and style. Once you get familiar with the hooks you use for tying, you'll be able to adjust and fine-tune for the target fish species and the size of the fly you think is most effective. The hook comparison charts are a great way to identify comparable hooks among manufacturers, and you've probably already discovered that one manufacturer's size 12 is another's size 14. Uniformity across brands is not at play here. That being said, precision is a relative term, and you learn to adjust your tying to the hook style and size clamped in your vise.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Metuchen, N.J.

    Default Re: Choosing a hook question????

    Hi Jimmie
    When someone designs a fly & states a type & size of hook, they are using their judgment as to the how the completed fly should look.
    Back when a lot of the old patterns were made they didn't have as many different types & styles of hooks as we have now so there weren't too many options. . When a pattern calls for a size 12 hook that's because the originator is trying to imitate a insect of that size. ....In the stream you fish that insect may be either smaller or larger & the colors might be either lighter or darker..............As for style of hook , some patterns look better on a different style hook & there are some hook bends that you'll have a hard time getting a bead on so you use another hook. Sometimes you might want the fly longer or shorter but the same gap size so you go to a different length (X) hook of the same number........If your copying a fly for show or a contest use the hook called for, but if it's for fishing use the size, gap, bend style you like & as a GENERAL rule use a lightwire hook for dry flys & a heavier wire hook for subsurface or for larger drys for bigger fish, Salmon, bass etc.. Another problem is that there is no ridged standard between manufacturers & if the pattern calls for the swedish hook & all you have are Japanese you have to adjust to something close.
    Good Luck

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Southeast Pennsylvania

    Default Re: Choosing a hook question????

    Hmmmm....When I started tying again about 9 years ago, I followed recipes.
    One that drove me nuts was a Pheasant Tail Nymph that was supposed to
    be tied on a Mustad 3906 hook. I just couldn't get enough material on the hook to look like the pictures I had seen, especially if I used a bead head.
    I went to the local fly shop, and the guy there said, "Yeah. Use a standard
    length nymph hook." When I looked at the PTN's on display, they were definitely tied on at least 1X long hooks, and I showed this the shop employee. He said, "Yeah. You can do it that way to, I suppose." Well, I now
    use whatever hook length looks right to me.

    Another example that comes to mind immediately is Wooly Buggers. Many recipes call for a 3X-4X hook. I use Mustad 9671 hooks for my Buggers, and
    that hook is only 2X long. The shorter Buggers are easier to cast, and don't
    do as much damage to the fish...IMO.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Upper Mojave Desert

    Default Re: Choosing a hook question????

    Thank you everyone. Really appreciate all of your experienced info that I'll put to good use. A little off topic but I'm excited about tomorrow. I have my first fly tying class 10a-12n. Goes for four weeks. I'll try to get some pics.

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