Jump to content
Fly Tying

Hooks for Dummies?

Recommended Posts

One of the most confusing aspects for me as a novice fly tier is hooks. Not just brands, and the equivalent hooks across brands, but even more basic than that is what makes a dry hook a dry hook, and a wet or nymph hook a wet hook, and why are some of them "standard"?


I can get why a streamer hook is usually large and long, but what makes a scud hook a scud hook? Is it just the curve? And what is a "scud"?


A lot of recipes for flies give detailed lists of "ingredients" but often skimp on details on the hooks, often mentioning just the size, and not giving details of which type. I realize this will come with experience, and veteran fly tiers will automatically "get" what hook to use, but I am definitely not there yet!


Is there a "Fly Tying Hooks for Dummies" resource out there? Is there a "beginners guide to hooks" pinned thread that I missed (I did look)?


Any introductory material, or advice, regarding this topic is welcome.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Others please chime in if I'm off here, but here's basic trout fly hooks for dummies:


1. The wire can be standard weight (thickness), or heavy or light, sometimes extra heavy. 1xh means 1 level heavier (more stout) than standard. 1xf means 1 level finer (lighter). 2xh (or higher) is extra heavy.


1a. The weight of the hook can help put the fly at the right level you want it. That's why dries and emergers are often tied on 1xf hooks, wet flies (think, soft hackle with floss body, maybe a paired feather wing) on standard weight hooks, and nymphs on 1xh or 2xh hooks. Streamers are often tied on 2xh or even 3xh hooks to add some toughness against big angry trout. But many dries are (or can be) tied on standard weight hooks, as are (and can be) many nymphs.


2. Straight hook shanks are also either standard length, short (1xs) or long (1xl on up to 6xl). Length matters more to most patterns than heaviness.


2a. Most dry flies are standard length, but some like hoppers and stoneflies are often much longer. Wet flies are typically standard length, and nymphs without a bead are often 1xl; with a bead the same nymph will be tied on a 2xl. Streamers are often tied in 3xl hooks, sometimes much longer. Egg patterns are tied on short hooks (2xs if memory serves me).


3. There are a lot of different curved or bent shank types. For example, typical scud and emergers hooks are both curved (sort of like a letter c), but scuds are under water (shrimp) and typically get tied on a 1xh hook, while emergers are often tied on 1xf hooks, both with similar shapes. Shape is typically as or more important than length to the particular pattern. However, there are no have to's. For instance, you can readily tie a zebra midge on a straight shank though it's typically tied on an emerger or scud hook. You can tie a pheasant tail on a curved shank hook, though it's typically tied on a straight shank.


4. There are many different types of hook bends on straight shank hooks, even on curved shank hooks (both czeck and scud hooks have curved shafts and are heavy, but their hook bends are different, for example). There also are differently angled and lengthed points, different surface colors, hook eye differences, and other differences.


5. Pattern recipes typically call for a particular hook to employ characteristics 1-3, not 4. Also, different manufacturers make all these characteristics a little differently. Typically the recipe calls for a particular manufacturer's particular style of hook only because that's the type of hook the recipe provider uses to achieve characteristics 1-3.


Beyond these basics, tiers often develop preferences for particular hooks on particular flies, or even on all flies. Whether that's bs or not, it's not needed for beginning tyers to be concerned with, unless they want to, of course.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chug pretty well spelled it out. There can be a lot that goes into hook selection. But for beginning tiers go by the recipe for the pattern.


All of the manufacturers put on the package the intended use for a particular hook. Most of them anyway. In the Riffle has a very nice conversion chart of the most common hooks. I believe it was put together by Daiichi. I keep a copy and the tying bench.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you need to compare hooks I have photographed over 1000 hooks (and more coming) at https://flyhooks.org/


You can see similar hooks based on length/gap and so on. You can also search based on many different properties, or just browse different brands

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Scud is a fresh water crustacean, more specifically; Amphipod or Gammaridea https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphipoda
as you can see they swim in a C shape hence the hook shape, although you can tie around the bend on a standard hook and get kinda the same shape

Chug cover hooks pretty well, but the important thing is the length of the hook allows correct proportions to the fly (although a smaller or larger fly can be tied on the same hook) and the bend/shape of the hook give a correct profile to the fly and the diameter (or weight) of the wire determines how fast the fly will sink.
some reading; https://flyfishing.thefuntimesguide.com/fly_hooks/
chart gives characteristics for hooks used for types of flies;

Edited by tjm

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Haziz


Every fly tier is different! I like to tie my spiders on short shank dry fly hooks, i have a friend that has me tie his clausers on owner mosquito hooks. I have another friend that wants his weaved meal worms tied on bait holder hooks.


At the end of the day if the fish ate it you did it right. Keep things basic and adjust as you learn more!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...