Think about it. The best fly-tying hooks have to tick two boxes.
On the one hand, you’ll want them to behave like a regular fishing hook and keep any caught fish on the line. But they also have to form a suitable ‘blank canvas’ for you to make into a fly.
Choosing can be tricky, but I’m here to offer a little advice and make your job easier.
Here’s a fly tying hook assortment that will have you covered.
Check out my buying guide for some top tips too!
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Table of Contents
- Top 5 Best Fly Tying Hooks 2021
- Buying Guide to Fly Tying Hooks
Top 5 Best Fly Tying Hooks 2021
Buying Guide to Fly Tying Hooks
Buying fly tying hooks. A hook is a hook, right?
It may surprise you to learn that there is a little more thought required when trying to buy hooks for fly tying.
I will have a run-through of some considerations that you really need to consider before you make your purchase. If this all seems a little complex, why not start at my quick read fly tying guide here and then come back?
It will all make sense, I promise.
Fly Tying Hooks, What’s the Difference?
You may be surprised to learn that there is a difference when buying hooks for fly tying.
Look at it like this.
Take an average sea fishing hook. Do you think that would work for fly tying?
No, me neither.
It would be too heavy, thick, and would make your flies look unnatural. Apply this principle in reverse to see what makes fly tying hooks so great. You want something that is lightweight to make the fly behave in the most natural manner possible.
When reducing the weight, you might think that this will reduce the strength. Therefore, the best hooks will be those that still offer a decent amount of durability regardless of the size of fish you catch.
Types of Hook Required for Fly Tying?
Unlike in other forms of fishing, you actually have a variety of hooks. Particularly shapes and sizes.
Here’s a brief rundown of the different types of fly and what hook shape would be best.
Hooks for Dry Flies
Hooks for dry flies require a few key properties. Generally, flies tend not to have curved bodies. Therefore you will be looking for a hook that has a straight shank. Natural flies tend not to be too long either, so keep an eye on the proportions of the hook you choose.
Ever seen a fly land on water? Here’s what happens…
They float! To make your fly as realistic as possible, you will need a hook that will do the same. This means nothing too thick or heavy. Look for hooks with descriptions involving the words ‘fine’ and ‘wire’ as this normally means they are thinner gauge.
Hooks for Nymphs
Nymphs are a little different, and you do have a little bit of flexibility in the hooks you choose.
Here’s my preference.
I prefer tying my nymphs on curved hooks. If you look at the bodies of real-life nymphs, you will see that they have a slight bend to them.
Here, check this out and see for yourself.
Curved hooks are a little more challenging to tie with, so if you are new to this pursuit, it might make more sense to opt for a straight hook until you get your skills perfected. This won’t affect the fly too much and will still catch fish.
A decent fly tying bobbin can also make tying on curved hooks a little easier; check out my fly tying bobbin suggestions.
Hooks for Lures and Streamers
Lures and streamers definitely need a nice long hook. The more body the lure has, the more you can ‘bulk’ it up with material, and subsequently, the more action it will have in the water.
Here’s what I like best about tying streamers.
They are some of the easiest flies to tie. While they are imitative, they rely more on their action to catch fish, so you can get away with a few more imperfections.
Streamers and lures are designed to sink.
Do you know what that means?
There’s a good chance that you’ll want to tie on a bead head or sinker. This takes up room on the hook shank, so a little extra to play with is always a good thing.
If you want to see what I mean, here’s a quick video of one of my favorite patterns. The Montana fly:
Hooks for Wet Flies
While the term ‘wet fly’ is loosely used to mean anything fished subsurface, it can also relate to the type of fly. Anything that is fished slowly on the drift in a natural way can be a wet fly.
Wet flies have to look pretty natural, so you might not want a gold head but still, need it to sink.
A heavier hook. Some of our above suggestions are great for tying wet flies.
Read about eyes below to see how you can tell whether a hook is more suitable for dry or wet flies.
Hook Eyes Explained
Hooks for tying flies? It’s all in the eyes. Here are a few handy rules of thumb to tell if the hook you are choosing is for dry or wet flies.
It goes like this…
When tying dry flies, you will need to choose a hook where the eye is pointing down. The reason for this is that it makes the leader sit under the surface. A leader on top of the surface will spook trout.
When fishing wet flies, you pull them through the water. The axis of the eye should be in the same direction that you are pulling the fly. An eye that is pointing down in this instance will cause the fly to swim down. This isn’t a good thing when trying to make something look natural. So for wet flies, look for hooks with an eye in line with the hook shank.
Barbed or Barbless Hooks, Does it Matter?
This might be down to personal preference when it comes to fishing.
A barbed hook decreases your risk of losing fish. However, if you are fishing catch and release, it is kinder and safer for the fish to use barbless hooks or squash the barb.
When it comes to tying flies, it makes no difference whether you use barbed or barb-free hooks.
Material and Construction?
As a general rule, fly tying hooks need to be lighter without compromising any strength. The strongest hooks are forged. So keep a good lookout for this feature when purchasing.
Do you know what happens when you make something thinner?
It gets bendier. This isn’t what you want in a hook. My choice of fly tying hooks are always constructed from alloys that have been hardened to give them a little more strength.
Long or Short?
Again this can come down to personal preference.
But let me offer you a tip.
The key to tying successful flies is variety. I often tie multiple variations of the same fly because in fly fishing, size matters.
The same can be true of tying. Here’s another tip.
As your skills improve, you can go shorter and shorter on the hook shank… Until you are tying positively microscopic flies. Just like this…
Consider your vise too. The best fly tying vises will let you fit a range of hook sizes. However, it would be a shame to invest in hooks that simply don’t fit. So choose wisely!
There are some funky sizes out there. Some aren’t the standard either, so be sure to check a fly tying hook comparison chart if there is any doubt.
Is there more to the best fly tying hooks than you thought? Yeah, it is tricky, isn’t it?
My closing advice to you is this, choose a hook that you are comfortable tying on, try a few, and you’ll soon figure out what works.
Then you can go from there. There’s plenty of ideas in my list above to tie all sorts of flies.
What’s the biggest fly you’ve ever tied? Did it work? Let me know in the comments below. I love hearing from you guys.