Fly fishing hooks come in an overwhelming number of sizes and styles. The type of hook used depends on the insect or bait fish being imitated. Fly fishing hooks use even numbers from 1 to 28 to designate the size of the hook. The larger variety of saltwater and streamer hooks use measurements of 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, etc. to indicate size. A separate number is used to label the style of the hook which will vary depending on the manufacturer. Many fly tiers will rely on a single hook manufacturer to simplify the selection process. Most hook companies label the package with the purpose of the hook.
Dry Fly Hooks
Dry fly hooks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The purpose of a dry fly hook is to be delicate and lightweight. A heavy nymph hook should not be used for dry flies as it will sink the fly. Most dry fly hooks have a straight eye and are built from forged bronze. Large dry flies will have a 2x-long hook shank and small flies will have a 1x-long hook shank. The TMC 101 is a standard hook that is used for the Parachute Adams, Humpy and many other flies, while the TMC 5212 is a 2x long hook that is ideal for large hoppers and salmonflies.
Nymph hooks have the largest selection of styles. Hooks come in a variety of lengths and shapes designed to accommodate everything from simple stone fly patterns to crippled mayflies. Heavy gauge hooks on a curved shank are generally used to imitate caddis fly pupa and shrimp while hooks with a down eye and straight shank make up the bulk of general purpose nymph patterns. For large patterns a 2x-long shank and heavy duty forged bronze build is required. Smaller nymphs will use the same build with a smaller profile hook. The TMC 5262 is a standard nymph hook with a straight shank and the TMC 2457 has a curved shank for emergers, scuds and caddis pupa.
Streamer hooks are used for flies that swim through the water and imitate bait fish, mice and crayfish. Most streamer hooks are heavy duty and feature either a down turned eye or straight eye. The shank of a streamer hook generally has a minimum length of 2x and is built from heavy duty forged bronze or steel. The long shank of a streamer hook allows the fly to hold several layers of bulky materials. Most streamer hooks have a single barb just above the hook point but some models can be purchased as factory barb-less hooks. The TMC 300 is ideal for tying large streamers but the TMC 5263 is effective for Wooly Buggers and smaller streamers.
Saltwater hooks are in a league of their own. The hooks are generally heavy duty, corrosion resistant and have been sharpened as much as possible. Saltwater hooks come in a variety of sizes, colors and shapes with the majority being used for bait fish imitations. The size of saltwater hooks are measured as 1/0, 2/0, 3/0, etc. The Gamakatsu SL11-3H is a great hook for large tarpon flies and off shore fishing. The Mustad 3407 is another standard saltwater hook that can be used for everything from bait fish to crab patterns.
Article Written By Zach Lazzari
Zach Lazzari is an outdoor writing specialist. He has experience in website writing as well as standard newspaper writing. He wrote an outdoor column for the Silver World in Lake City, Colo., and articles for Colorado-mountain-adventure.com. Lazzari is currently completing his bachelor's degree online through Arizona State University and lives in southwest Montana.