These barbless hooks these days

scotty macfly

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It's no secret that some hook companies are making these wonderful barbless hooks, companies such as Firehols Sticks, Fulling Mill, Partridge Patriot series and some more companies as well. I really enjoy these hooks, then after a few conversations with a friend of mine about hooks, and tying a few flies I started putting 2+2 together.

I'm not great at math, and in my own personal opinion I am not on the same tying level as as flytie09 or Hairwing530. I take that back, it's not an opinion, it's a fact I'm not on the same level as those two are, or even as many of you too.

Hook gapes have been talked about many times here, but I think I have come up looking at this in a different way, and I got some questions.

Many of these hooks have a larger gape, so one of my questions is when you take a hook like Tiemco 100 size 16 for example, and you use a hackle gauge to get the proper hackle size, you're pretty well set, or just wrap the hackle around the shank and check the length according to the gape and that works great too. . . . but. There's always that but.

So you take a Firehole 419 hook, same size, a 16, and because it has a wider gape do you still use hackle length according to a hackle gauge, or wrap the hackle around the shank to get the hackle length according to the gape size? My guess would be not to use a gauge, but wrap the hackle around shank?

Another thought I had is if you look at these hooks, they look bigger in every way compared to another hook, like a Tiemco or Mustad. So when fishing these hooks, wouldn't such a bigger hook gape stand out to a fish more than a different hook? After tying flies on these hooks I was looking at them and saw that the bend of the hook is very visible. So wouldn't that put off some fish when they bite down on the fly feeling the bigger gape so spitting it out faster?

In this photo you can see three hooks: all are #18
Top hook Partridge Patriot SUD2 with a Capt. Hamilton bend. Much like many other hooks have.

Middle hook Partridge Patriot SLD2 which has a deeper curved gape.

Bottom hook Firehole 419, and as you see it has a really deep wide gape.
20200215-105054.jpg


Third question is, am I putting too much thought into this and shouldn't have any concerns about it?
 

okaloosa

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It has been a problem for me too especially if I run out of one size and order online a different brand and get a hook that is one or 2 sizes larger.
 

sparsegraystubble

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Hi Scotty,

I see what you are talking about. I tend to use those bigger gaped hooks for nymphs particularly with beads and other weighted flies. As a result, those seldom have traditional wound hackle.

When tying soft hackle patterns or other wet flies with wound hackles, I generally will use more of a traditional hook. But whichever, I generally will tend to Judge it by looking at it and then go from there.

The only time I use one of these new style hooks for dry flies or emergers is when tying Klinkhammers or maybe one of the Puglisi patterns. With the Klinkhammers (or sparkle duns, X caddis, etc.) I size the wings and/or hackles by the overall look, but the wing length at least can be tied long and then trimmed as appropriate. Some patterns I tie longer and then trim on the stream as seems appropriate.

I am just telling you what I do and am not pretending that these are right answers for anybody else. I do think that trout tend to key on the actual tied portion of the hook so the larger bend is not a big issue. And I think you are right that the larger gaped hooks can be detected quicker by a trout when it takes. I think though that is counterbalanced because the larger gape means the hook is probably set more efficiently and thus is more difficult for the trout to spit it out.

I also think that when weighted, many of these hooks tend to ride with the bend up almost like a jig hook and that changes the dynamics as much as the size of the gape.

Notice again that I am reporting what I think and believe. As usual with fishing I could be all wet. I will be interested in reading how others here with more skills and wider experience respond in this thread.

Good subject for discussion that could help many of us.

Don
 

bigjim5589

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There's no real standard between hook makers and never has been. How they label their hooks for size is up to them. Some of these newer brands are intentionally having their hooks made so they don't match other brands, perhaps to meet a real need. Then it's a sales point too.

Those hackle gauges are based on the basic J hooks, not these newer jig style hooks. So, use the hook you're tying on as your point of reference, not the hackle guage.

flyhooks.org has been a good reference tool too, and the fellow who started it tries to keep it up to date and is always adding hooks to the lists. It's a good source for comparing hooks between the different brands.

There still may be differences between brands for the same style and size, so sometimes you have to physically compare until you find a closer match. Sometimes that will be a different size as labelled.

Unless you can do that first hand, in a shop, it may not be ideal since it requires buying hooks you won't be sure about, but unless you can get someone else to show you a photo comparison, that may be the best you can do.
 

Matt4.0

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Timely post as this has always been on my mind during my relatively new tying experience. Today I knocked the dust off the vice and was tying some “size 12” flies...out of 3 different packages of hooks from 2 different manufacturers....I had 3 VERY different size hooks to work with.
 

Lewis Chessman

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Hi, guys. I just bumble along with my tying but regarding Scotty's question:
So you take a Firehole 419 hook, same size, a 16, and because it has a wider gape do you still use hackle length according to a hackle gauge, or wrap the hackle around the shank to get the hackle length according to the gape size?
my intuition would be to use the hook shape to its best advantage rather than force a pattern onto it by lengthening the feathers. If I 'had to' tie a trad. wet, say, on the Firehole 419 I think I'd keep the same proportions as I would with the Partidges and see how much the exposed point mattered over fly bulk (to the fish).

I would certainly use the Firehole 419 for sedge pupa and buzzers where the hook shape is apt. Also for wide-hackled, bog-brush flies, bob flies like the Bumbles, Dabblers, Zulus and for short-bodied Muddlers where the bullet deerhair head has a wide diameter.
I imagine that at smaller sizes (18+) the wide gap makes tying easier, dries especially, and at these wee sizes the amount of metal exposed is less important?

I do know that when I've tried to force a pattern on an inappropriate hook it's always looked wrong to me and I seldom have the confidence to fish it.
Trust your eye and your heart, Scotty. :)
 

losthwy

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I ran into that today. These are hooks from Big T Flyfishing. Both are #20 but from two different companies. Top is BT-MDG 100 the bottom is BT-SCU 100. The BT-SCU 100 is really a number #22 compared to most other makes. So if you are looking for a #22 scud/midge hook this will work.
20200427_141030.jpg
 

scotty macfly

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I ran into that today. These are hooks from Big T Flyfishing. Both are #20 but from two different companies. Top is BT-MDG 100 the bottom is BT-SCU 100. The BT-SCU 100 is really a number #22 compared to most other makes. So if you are looking for a #22 scud/midge hook this will work.
View attachment 22554
It's funny how they do that, or better yet, why they do that. I like Partridge Patriot hooks, but their hooks are half size short, so you have a size 14 Tiemco hook, the Partridge is a 15. No big deal really, but it does mess my portions of the fly off a bit when I don't tie with Partridge on a regular basis. But that's not the hooks fault, it's all me.

I did find some hooks from Firehole Sticks that will do the trick very well. The 718 series goes down to a size 24, which is smaller than I plan to tie. But a prince nymph would look very good on this hook.
 

losthwy

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It's funny how they do that, or better yet, why they do that. I like Partridge Patriot hooks, but their hooks are half size short, so you have a size 14 Tiemco hook, the Partridge is a 15. No big deal really, but it does mess my portions of the fly off a bit when I don't tie with Partridge on a regular basis. But that's not the hooks fault, it's all me.

I did find some hooks from Firehole Sticks that will do the trick very well. The 718 series goes down to a size 24, which is smaller than I plan to tie. But a prince nymph would look very good on this hook.
Yes it makes buying hooks sight unseen a crapshoot. I have had a hard time finding #20 barbless scud/midge hooks. The ones Big T carries are 7MM in length. I just lucked out for they sent me 4 of the BT-SCU 100 as a free sample. I'm curious what are the lengths of the Firehole #20 hooks? Always good to have a plan B, if store A is out or no longer carry them.
 

JDR

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It is just part of the self-perpetuated obfuscation and confusion the fly fishing industry (and others) thrives on. Hook sizes, line weights, rod designations are all confusing and sometimes, contradictory. So, what is the industry answer? Introduce more hooks with no relationship to any agreed upon standard! Genius!!! It makes it easier to get our money, does nothing to improve the situation, and life goes on. That's why the caveat is: Buyer beware, not You can trust the label.
 

stilis

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I like to tie and fish a lot of hackled dry flies. Both traditional in the sense of Catskill, Wulff, and Humpy styles, as well as parachutes. I have also switched from the traditional proportioned Mustad R50/94840, and now use Firehole 419's.

Out of force of habit I use a hackle gauge exclusively. Using the Firehole 419, on parachutes I follow the hackle gauge faithfully. For traditional flies, I try to aim for the upper end of the range for the hook size on the hackle gauge, and this gives me a fly that sits up nicely on it's tippy toes and tail.

I do not notice any additional refusals using the 419 with the large gape, and my hookup rate is a bit higher than using the R50/94840. Finally, those Firehole 419's are sticky sharp and fine wire as well. I find the handling time of the fish, as well as the wound on the fish to be much smaller, compared to the R50/94840 with a mashed barb.

With that said, and I am particularly picky about my fly tying, these patterns look better to me on an R50/94840. Something about the traditional proportions, and the nice bronze color.
 

silver creek

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It's no secret that some hook companies are making these wonderful barbless hooks, companies such as Firehols Sticks, Fulling Mill, Partridge Patriot series and some more companies as well.

Hook gapes have been talked about many times here, but I think I have come up looking at this in a different way, and I got some questions.

Many of these hooks have a larger gape, so one of my questions is when you take a hook like Tiemco 100 size 16 for example, and you use a hackle gauge to get the proper hackle size, you're pretty well set, or just wrap the hackle around the shank and check the length according to the gape and that works great too. . . . but. There's always that but.

So you take a Firehole 419 hook, same size, a 16, and because it has a wider gape do you still use hackle length according to a hackle gauge, or wrap the hackle around the shank to get the hackle length according to the gape size? My guess would be not to use a gauge, but wrap the hackle around shank?

Another thought I had is if you look at these hooks, they look bigger in every way compared to another hook, like a Tiemco or Mustad. So when fishing these hooks, wouldn't such a bigger hook gape stand out to a fish more than a different hook? After tying flies on these hooks I was looking at them and saw that the bend of the hook is very visible. So wouldn't that put off some fish when they bite down on the fly feeling the bigger gape so spitting it out faster?

In this photo you can see three hooks: all are #18
Top hook Partridge Patriot SUD2 with a Capt. Hamilton bend. Much like many other hooks have.

Middle hook Partridge Patriot SLD2 which has a deeper curved gape.

Bottom hook Firehole 419, and as you see it has a really deep wide gape.
View attachment 21370


Third question is, am I putting too much thought into this and shouldn't have any concerns about it?

1. Tie the pattern based on the LENGTH of the hook. The length of the hook is the length of the insect body that you are imitating and every other part of the fly pattern including the length of the tail and wing are based on the body length. Regardless of the size of the hook gape, use the hook length as your guide.

2. The hook bend is visible in most dry fly patterns. So the fish see it BUT the fact is that for them to REFUSE the fly, they have to have RECOGNIZE the the hook for what it is. In other words, the hook bend has to be a part of their "search pattern" for them to refuse the fly. We just don't know if some fish do refuse because they recognize the hook.

3. Here's the deal. Worry about what you can control and not about what you cannot control. A benefit of wide gap hooks is that they have a higher hook up percentage in the small patterns. Similarly, if you think that these are wonderful barbless hooks with advantages that make them better than other hooks and they are working better for you than other hooks, isn't that the bottom line?
 

trev

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Shank length and insect body proportions. The insect's body proportions are the key to imitation, correct?

If we look at the more traditional, hooks the gape is about 1/2 the shank length, or the shank is 2X the gape, and the dry fly hackle is given as 1.5 times the gape, if we think of this in terms of shank length, then the hackle should be about 3/4 the shank length.
Since the tail is based on shank length (T=SL) and the body is based on shank length (B=3/4 SL) and the wing is based on shank length (W=SL) shouldn't we also base the hackle on Shank Length? Any slight variation in the exact relation between gape and shank by brand shouldn't be an insurmountable problem.
Even better perhaps when tying and fishing would be to eliminate number designation from our minds and perceive the insects and our imitations as being fractions of an inch long (or fractions of a meter); if I tie one pattern to always be 5/16" long it really doesn't matter what the manufacturer named the hook size, or even the hook I use, my flies will always be the same size.
I think keeping the hackle about body length should work with any hook, We know from using Parachute flies that the bend and point can be naked and below the film.
 

bigjim5589

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It is just part of the self-perpetuated obfuscation and confusion the fly fishing industry (and others) thrives on. Hook sizes, line weights, rod designations are all confusing and sometimes, contradictory. So, what is the industry answer? Introduce more hooks with no relationship to any agreed upon standard! Genius!!! It makes it easier to get our money, does nothing to improve the situation, and life goes on. That's why the caveat is: Buyer beware, not You can trust the label.
I certainly understand your point, and the frustration that can develop. However, as the saying goes, be careful what you wish for, particularly with regard to hooks. Do you really want everything to be standardized and all be the same? I've accepted the fact that each brand does it's own thing and have learned to work with it. So, IMO, this discussion shouldn't be as much about buyer beware or not trusting the label, as it is becoming educated with the differences and taking advantage of it.

And yes, most of this may be about marketing and getting more of our money, but it is also about the business of the sport, and without the differences and demand for the products, the many products may not even exist, and the sport may not even exist as we know it. Like it or not sales drives the sport.
 

JDR

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Big Jim, you make a valid point, but it doesn't negate my point. Yes, nuance will always be a part of successful fishing, and individual adaptation to more specialized technology drives the sport forward. But, there is still no reason to manufacture and sell a hook that is out of parameters of the well established and accepted standard as size XX hook. If is actually size XX.5 - label it that way. The same is true for fly lines, rod weight, reel capacity, anything that isn't what it says it is. If fly tackle makers have to rely on any form of deceptive marketing to sell their product it hurts everyone. You are also right that people should educate themselves about the differences in design and application. But without accurate labeling in the first place it just makes learning that much harder. That in turn feeds the idea that fly fishing is elitist. But please understand this is just how I see it. I am not asking for change, in this post or the previous, that would be stupid. The whole core of sport/recreational fishing is grown from deception, though it disguises itself with many other names.
 

mtboiler

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I have a 'selection' of hooks I have collected over the years. I prefer to tie on a set of hooks and when I buy new hooks now, I only buy those hooks...until Dai - Riki stopped making hooks!!! Luckily, I have found decent replacements.
When I tie something new, I am constantly experimenting with new tying techniques, lets say a dry fly, I grab size 14 and 12 of several different hooks. I might have 5 or 6 different hooks only tying table. I than sit them on a white sheet of paper, my tying desk is wood and does not provide great contrast.
I have found that since I know what I intend the end result to be, I can look at those 4 to 6 hooks styles and pretty much guess which one will look the best. Sometimes though, I tie it on two different hooks.
Ironically, in my humble opinion, I think we put to much emphasis on the 'perfect' looking fly. Insects in nature are not all perfect and some that hit the water are down right beaten up. I find that my flies that look less than perfect seem to catch the most fish. But, I am still guilty of trying to tie the perfect fly which I will probably never do.
 

LePetomane

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As stated before, the size of the fly is determined by the length of the hook. I use Hanak 130BL for dries and have been very satisfied. The gap is a little wder than the Tiemco or Daiichi but not extreme. A friend of mine uses the J:Son hooks for dries. The gap on those is too wide for my use.
 

mikemac1

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But, there is still no reason to manufacture and sell a hook that is out of parameters of the well established and accepted standard as size XX hook.
What ”standard” would that be? AFFTA doesn’t have a hook standard for fly fishing as it does for fly lines, reel seats and reel feet. If you go back through fly fishing literature, I think you’ll find that fly hook parameters have always been changing as innovation, new designs and better manufacturing processes evolve the fly hook. I think you’d see the biggest food fight in the fly fishing industry if AFFTA or some one else tried to establish “fly hook standards”.
 

JDR

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"I think you’d see the biggest food fight in the fly fishing industry if AFFTA or some one else tried to establish “fly hook standards” "

As I said, I am not trying to change anything. The fly fishing industry has happily created the current situation - consumers have been taught to accept it and don't complain - the money flows. What is there to change?
 
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