A Full Guide to The Best Fly Tying Hooks 2021 (Reviews & Top Tips)


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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Top 5 Best Fly Tying Hooks 2021

XFishman Fly Tying Hooks

If you have just started on your fly-tying journey, you might be unsure which hooks would be the most suitable.

Do you know what the answer is?

Buy a selection of fly tying hooks. These are just perfect for the beginner. First off, you’ll get lots. Depending on your choice, you’ll get between 100 and 240 hooks.

That sounds like a good deal to me.

Aside from a good quantity, you’ll also be given flexibility in the choice of patterns you tie. Their hooks range from size 10 up to size 16.

And that’s not all.

You also get two different styles of hooks. If you are looking to create nymphs and subsurface creatures, then you find curved hooks. If you are looking to tie flies to sit on top of the water, then you’ll also get a selection of straight-shanked dry fly hooks.

To make the deal even sweeter, this setup comes in a durable and divided foam box, perfect for staying organized.

Pros

  • Great value and selection.
  • Strong 2x wire hooks.

Cons

  • I sometimes tie flies smaller than size 16. But for beginners, this is probably a little advanced.

Takeaway

Straight out the gate, you are getting great value. The quality of these fly tying hooks is really good for the money, and an assortment of fly tying hooks will let you tie hundreds of patterns, literally!

YZD Fly Tying Hooks

Do you know what a favorite meal of trout is?

Minnows.

Tell me the last time you saw a minnow with a short body? To tie streamer patterns and effective lures, you aren’t going to want to run out of space.

Here’s the answer.

A fly tying hook with a long shank. And they aren’t just great to tie on. The chemically sharpened point will ensure that they have real penetrating power when you get a bite.

They are made from tempered alloy. As a result, they are 30% stronger than your average hook, meaning they are perfect for pulling in larger fish. The hooks are barbed too! This gives you the option to crush the barb if you are a fan of catch and release.

Pros

  • Nice long body, perfect for tying streamers.
  • Strong and sharp, just what you need in a hook.

Cons

  • You will have to buy more than just these. They aren’t great for tying dry flies.

Takeaway

Streamers are a great fly to learn to tie as they have all the core skills needed when you are learning. These hooks provide plenty of room to practice and would be ideal for beginners tying their first patterns.

Mustad Signature Fly Hooks

When it comes to fishing hooks, Mustad has been the gold standard for a long time. As your skills progress, you can consider tying finer patterns.

These hooks are eye-down, meaning they will work extremely well for dry fly patterns. When it comes to the fish-catching ability, they are about as good as it gets. Mustad uses UltraPoint technology to ensure that their hooks are as sharp as possible.

These hooks are barbed, meaning that the fish is more likely to stay hooked if you get a bite. The barb can also be crushed depending on your requirements.

I really like that these are bronze colored. Trout have excellent eyesight, and this color actually compliments the vast majority of my patterns.

Pros

  • An industry leader offering great quality hooks.
  • Multiple sizes are available.

Cons

  • I’ll be honest. They are good fly tying hooks. I have no complaints.

Takeaway

Given a whole choice of brands, Mustad is definitely the way to go and my preferred choice. They are strong and sharp, perfect for fly tying.

MaximumCatch Maxcatch Fly Hooks

If you know your preferred size, you might not need to buy a whole selection of hooks. Maximumcatch offers you the option of purchasing a lot of hooks in bulk. In each style, you’ll get a range of sizes, from hook size #6 all the way up to #16. Giving you plenty of scope to tie amazing flies.

With 100 hooks in each pack, not to mention a handy plastic case, you’ll have enough to keep you going on the tying bench for a good while.

Here’s what you’ll be able to tie…

Nymphs, jigs, caddis, shrimp, and dries… Oh, and lures too! That sounds like a pretty decent range to me.

The hooks are made from hardened carbon steel with chemically sharpened hook points. This makes them durable and pretty corrosion-resistant too!

Pros

  • Excellent value. A lot of hooks for the money.
  • Great range available, so you’ll be able to tie lots of different flies.

Cons

  • The hooks are barbless, so if you need barbed, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Takeaway

These forged hooks are pretty good. When I look at the price, they are even better. Ok, so they don’t have barbs, but that isn’t a deal-breaker for me as I spend most of my time crushing them anyway.

With a selection of sizes, these could be some of the best fishing hooks for fly tying.

Classic Extra-Fine Dry-Fly Hooks

Classic Extra-Fine Dry-Fly Hooks

When tying really effective flies, it is often all about proportion. Once again, Orvis has come up with the goods.

If you have advanced your skills and want to make lifelike midge imitations and smaller creatures, you’ll be looking to buy fine hooks.

Check these out.

The hooks are constructed from tempered steel. This is great as they allow the hook to be made thinner and finer without losing strength. It also keeps the weight down, which is exactly what you need to create dry flys.

Here’s why.

Heavier hooks tend to sink! It really is that simple.

If you look at the hook eye, you will see it is in the ‘down’ configuration. This means that the leader will sink beneath the water, giving you a better chance of catching!

As with all good fly tying hooks, the points are chemically sharpened.

Pros

  • Small hooks, perfect for dries!
  • A large bend, giving plenty of room when tying.

Cons

  • Compared to some of my other suggestions, they are a little more expensive.

Takeaway

Sometimes what you lose in bulk, you gain in quality. These are some of the best hooks on my list when it comes to tying flies. Specifically dry flies. These won’t let you down.

Buying Guide to Fly Tying Hooks

Buying fly tying hooks. A hook is a hook, right?

Wrong.

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 vise and fly fishing tying tools

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.

set of different accessories and hooks for fly tying

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.

The solution?

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.

Simple, right?

fly tying vise and bobbins for fly fishing

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.

When you are just starting out, tie on longer hooks. It will give you much more room to work and let you see what you are doing right (or wrong).

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.

Summary

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.

If you need advice on some great fly tying kits or are looking to invest in some new fly tying scissors, I’ve got plenty of advice on both.

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.

Bob Hoffmann

The author of this post is Bob Hoffmann. Bob has spend most of his childhood fishing with his father and now share all his knowledge with other anglers. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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